My adventures with Kiloton the greatest Off The Track Thoroughbred ever!

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Long lost journal

I’ve been really bad bad bad with updating lately. It’s not that nothing is happening, but that TOO MUCH has been happening! Work is extremely busy and then once I’m home, after making dinner for the family, feeding the horses and dogs, doing stalls, and maybe squeezing in some riding and grooming time, setting up hay and grain for the next day, etc, I’m exhausted – not to mention everything that goes into getting ready for the 4 AM wake up time the next morning!

So since I last journaled, Kilo and I went on the big big trail in the woods. He was a superstar, barely flinching over the rustling of trees or cracking of sticks under his hooves. My darling husband made some amazing trails through the woods and I couldn’t wait to try it out. He walked in front of Kilo which seemed to help Kilo’s confidence, and even though my kids were following about 100 feet behind on their power wheels, we had no scary issues at all. He’s such a wonderful boy!

I think all of this praise was starting to get into his head as Kilo started acting a little stud-like in his stall, swooshing his tail and pinning his ears at feeding time, kicking the stall….. I think that my mare Rainbow had a little to do with that, as they’re often making mean faces at one another. He has this crazy thing with gnashing his teeth into his feed bucket and grabbing a mouthful of grain as soon as it’s poured and throwing it all over the stall. I’ve told him to cut it out in a stern voice, which seems to make his attitude worse. I’ve tried ignoring it, and have also tried talking to him in a nice voice. So far, as weird as it sounds, the nice voice has worked the best. I only scold him if his ear pinning is directed at me, which doesn’t happen too often but has happened a few times. Lately though he’s been a total teddy bear.

We changed farriers this past week. I know that my boy needs someone who REALLY knows how to shoe a thoroughbred with thin soles and low heels and I think I found just the guy. He COMPLIMENTED all of the horses – and said that Kilo was exceptional in his personality compared to other thoroughbreds he had worked with. He put a wedge pad on the back of his front left foot to help with raising his heel up so his hoof has an angle more identical to his right hoof. I also asked the farrier about the possibility of jumping lower level in the future (the other farrier said I shouldn’t even RIDE him and that I should just get rid of the horse – yeah so I decided to get rid of the farrier instead – the nerve of him insulting my baby!… disclaimer- there were other – MANY other reasons I let go of the other guy but I digress…) and anyway this new farrier said that we should be able to do lower level stuff, which really is all I’d ever want to do anyway. I’m not quite the daredevil that I was when I was in my teens or even 20’s and I don’t want to push my horsies (or myself for that matter!) beyond their abilities in any way.

I’m thinking of putting Rainbow into dressage training. We’ll see if we can conjure up the money! The big news right now is that I’m EXPECTING baby #3 – human baby that is… and so our expenses are undoubtably going to increase.

Plans for my QH OHK-bred filly are up in the air. I think she’ll make a wonderful kids’ mount and at the same time realize she’s worth her weight in gold in terms of bloodlines and temperament and ability. I just need to find the time to work everyone. 

I’m seriously considering either donating my husband’s QH mare to either a good therapeutic riding center so we can assure that she’s well taken care of, or well, I don’t know. I don’t want to SELL her because I’m afraid of her not going to a good enough home. We have too much time and love invested in her to see her go to just anywhere. But out of my 4, she receives the least amount of riding/training time since my DH is busy with work and school and honestly, even though he would like to call himself a horse person, I know in my heart that horses aren’t his passion as they are mine. His horse deserves more attention than what she’s receiving and we really need to figure out a way to cut some costs.

Cantering!

What is it with the canter? It’s the gate the I adore more than anything – the gliding on air feeling with a 3 beat gate and a rush like being on a roller coaster. At the same time I’ve come to slightly, should I say, “fear” it, on ‘new’ horses as my adult precautious nature sets in and I think of how in my experience, I’ve had more horses buck at the canter than any other gate. The first time I cantered my husband’s horse Tiara, everything went fine. So we cantered again. Everything was fine – and yes this was her first time cantering under saddle with a rider. The 3rd time in that session started out okay and then she was like, hey I wonder what happens if I start bucking? I stayed on for a couple of bucks that felt like 5 minutes in slow motion, and then once my center of balance was off, it was all over. I knew I would be meeting the ground in seconds, and I did. Course, I got back on and managed a walk but that was all I could really manage while I was mending my ouchies.

With my first horse Cheyenne, she was lovely at every gate. She had a thing though for the canter where she would try these little mini hops from time to time. She would rather just walk as she was rather lazy by nature, but once we’d get up to a canter, I knew that her normal super obedient attitude would change and she would try things. Maybe it was my anticipation for what I expected that caused her to recognize my intuitions and THAT was what caused her to change. Horses are in fact, very in tune with our emotions. Or maybe she was just lazy and really didn’t want to go. I don’t know.

What I DO know is that the canter now for me, is a gate that I move on to with caution. Naturally when cantering an off-the-track thoroughbred, that precaution comes without exception, no matter how docile he may be, and especially when doing it for the first time.

A few weeks back I was on Kilo and feeling very confident that day. I kissed him into a canter. He broke into a very quick trot, so I slowed him down to a more controllable pace. We tried again. He picked up the correct lead at the canter and after probably 2 strides I slowed him down. That was my first test. To see how he would initially react. Baby steps.

Last night we were in the ‘big’ field which is about 120 feet square. Normally we ride in a small(er) circular area in the 1st paddock but in preparing him for future trail rides, I wanted to test a new area, and a bigger area, to see how he would react. Tacking up was okay until he spooked over a crazy fly hitting the electric. He didn’t have a horrible spook, but the suddenness of it made even me jump a little. I was adjusting his saddle and he was tied to a firm post with a loose quick release knot. He spooked, jumping backward about 10 feet and the knot came loose but his lead was long enough that I was able to grab it and quiet him down as he stopped. I’m glad he isn’t a spook and run type of horse.

After several minutes of lungeing, he kicked up his heels a little and was feeling good. The weather is MUCH less humid, thank goodness, and it shows.  I got on and we walked and did some turns and bending. We went around the big big field and then came back to our starting place. Worked a little on the trot and he was listening well, as always. Then I had the confidence to just do it. So I asked him for a canter. He almost immediately picked up the lead like nothing and unlike my mare that always hated the canter, he had his EARS FORWARD! I’m thinking to myself, gosh I LOVE having a thoroughbred!!! Don’t get me wrong, he’s not like a get-up-and-go type. He would still rather be lazy, but at least when we’re cantering he really does seem to enjoy it. We didn’t do too many strides – maybe 5 or 6 but it was enough. He was good. He was happy. I was happy. So we ended on that note🙂 And I can’t wait for our next ride.

 I LOVE this horse!!!!

Beer for my horses?

The Song Beer For My Horses always made me smile. Just the idea of a rugged cowboy celebrating beer with his beloved horse somehow just shows respect from cowboy to his pal – like a bond that only guys share and that cowboy shares it with his horse.

I’m not a beer drinker. Maybe back in college I had a few (very few definitely and only because it was at frat/sorority parties) but overall if I’m offered a beer or an ice water I’d definitely choose the ice water. My DH on the other hand will have one here or there because he likes the taste. He’s not the only one – Kilo likes it too!

A few weeks back I was tacking Kilo up. DH comes outside with a cold Dos Equis in his hand and Kilo’s ears perk up and he starts moving forward, eyes on the beer like, “Oh is that for me??!!!” Normally Kilo is a ho-hum type of horse, going with the flow and not much seems to excite him. I admit I was a bit surprised. DH says to me, “Honey I think this horse has had beer before. Look at him!” As he’s saying this, Kilo is moving his mouth towards DH’s beer trying to sniff in that beer aroma and maybe steal a lick. Such a funny boy! DH didn’t share though.

So last night I’m currying Kilo and we’d all but forgotten about Kilo’s interest in the bottle. Again, something sparks Kilo’s interest and he’s moving towards DH again. I’m like where the heck are you going? Then I see the beer. Really Kilo?! This time my husband decided to see if he liked it or if it was just curiosity, as I’m protesting not to give him too much Kilo about grabbed the green bottle in his mouth and swished a few swigs around, happily.

At that moment, my husband and I concluded that our horse not only likes to get high off cribbing, but he is also a huge fan of beer.

Cowboy Dos Equis would be proud. I’ve read that back in the day, trainers would give beer to their horses. I’ve also read that it’s quite common on the tracks and for some reason, Guinness is the preferred one. I wonder if Kilo would prefer Guinness over Dos Equis.

Horsey ramblings

It’s hard to believe that I’ve had Kilo for several months now because I’m really still figuring him out. With the mares who we’ve had for years, I know their personalities and quirks pretty well.

Tiara

Tiara, our 12 year old QH mare, has this funny thing she does of thrusting her neck to the side over and over while in the field to point to the direction she wants her followers to go. She is all tough girl attitude until she’s wearing a halter and then she does a complete 180 in personality and turns into miss docile sweetie. She’s decent under saddle but at times likes to test, doing things like body drifting towards the barn while her head is turned the way she’s SUPPOSED to be going – things like that. We get back on track after she tries her stunts but she always likes to test, just to see if there is a small possibility she can get her way.

Rainbow and Tiara

Rainbow (6 year old PMU) is a dream to work with on the ground, can pick up a lead in a snap and has great propulsion. She also loves treats, kids, and tons of attention, to the point where she’ll push another horse out of the way just to get an extra rub on her head. She has these beautiful amazingly huge hooves for her little 14.3 hand size and is solid as can be. She can gallop at full speed in the pasture, making stops on a dime and amazingly tight turns, never missing a step. She changes colors with the seasons too which is pretty neat – and she almost looks purple depending on whether her bay roan coat is shedding her coming in – she’s a tri-color with purple I’d say – hence her name!

Flirt (QH), our yearling, is just that. She’s curious, sweet and precautious, happily following the mares to find her place. She’s smart as a whip and learns quickly. I need to take some updated pics of Flirt – she’s a beauty queen.

All the mares are well mannered most of the time. Rainbow can be a stink at times during farrier trims so we’re working on her patience. That reminds me I should start sacking her out a little bit this week (need to have my awesome handyman husband put up that Clinton Anderson tie ring!)

Kilo is quite the actor I’m learning. He knows how much attention he can get and is very tuned into ‘ohhhh poor boy!!’ pity whenever the flies are after him. So while the mares go about their business munching on grass and swishing the flies away, Kilo can have one little fly after him and he’s rushing up to me as if he’s saying “Help Mom!” Well yesterday wasn’t just one fly. Those dive bomber flies yesterday were insanely hungry. I put some Equispot on Kilo and it helped a little but I really wish I could do more while he’s out. Other than fly masks, a good fly spray, equispot, and keeping the area as clean as possible, I hope that I’m at least making somewhat of a difference. In my neverending effort to make him as happy and comfortable as can be, I tend to overanalyze things and then it cuts into my riding time and then I wonder why I don’t ride more often. Kilo doesn’t mind me riding. He likes the attention but he tends to be on the lazy side. So this is where his actor part comes in. We lunge before I ride, for a few minutes, not for countless repititions, but enough to see how he’s feeling and responding. Normally he’s going along as asked but not really striding out or picking up his feet or acting like he has a ton of energy – more or less like ‘okay you asked me to go so I’m going but I’d rather be standing’ type of attitude. So then I start overanalyzing. Are his hooves okay? Is he sore anywhere? Is it too hot to ride? (that’s been my thing lately as I WON’T ride if the heat index is over 95… something that I took with me from the equine physiology class in college) A few times I decided that I didn’t want to ride because in my mind, Kilo was tired or sore of whatever. Then I go to take him back to the barn and WHAM – different horse! His eyes brighten up, he’s walking at what I’d call a fast pace, his ears are forward and he’s alert as can be. Maybe he’s not an actor – maybe he’s a trainer – to me.

We’ll be going on our trail in the woods soon so I’m sure that will spark his interest. I mean no, we’re not going out running 35 miles per hour on a track but this can be exciting too! Honestly with how soft his soles are and how easily his hooves chip I don’t know how in the world he would have survived many races, and it’s a blessing to him I think that his owner and trainer retired him after he was only in a small handful of races. It just cracks me up that he placed 3rd in one race I found online after being a front runner til the back stretch and 1st in the last race he was in.  He’s so darn lazy! How could that have been my horse?! But that, along with his non-spookiness, should be a good thing for trail. Maybe he can teach Rainbow some lessons about what does NOT constitute a scary monster.

So that’s my rambling post for today.

More pictures Less words

 

Obstacles

So I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t actually ridden in over a week and a half. This summer has been unbearable to say the least! Followed by a spring with one of the highest rainfalls on record, now we’re in this crazy heatwave of 97 degree days, 70 percent humidity, and heat indexes through the roof. So needless to say it’s not been the best riding weather.

Kilo doesn’t seem to be bothered too much and I think that this time off is quite refreshing to him! Besides the weather, Kilo decided last week would be a good time to throw both his front shoes in a matter of 2 days apart. He was a bit sore and the farrier came out this past Friday to put on a shiny new set of shoes. So far, Kilo approves of the new nike’s. Now if the weather could give us one day of low humidity, we can get some riding time in!

Love at first sight

We all hear about love at first sight when it comes to teenagers or even grade schoolers who have their first crush. THAT, almost everyone can relate to -when all of your senses become hightened and there is this continuous state of adrenalin and your heart becomes a puddle of wussy-mess. All of a sudden, the basic essentials for life are no longer food or air or shelter – they revolve solely around this one being who you become almost infactuated with. And you can simply stare for hours into space happily recounting memories of a smile or of a ‘look’ or even a perceived ‘look’. 

If you’re a horse girl, well I should say horse *person* in case guys feel this way too, you know exactly what I mean when – horses make your heart skip a beat. Yes, that’s me, the crazy horse girl from school who, when all of the other kids were playing house, I was pretending to be the Loan Ranger’s Silver or the Black Stallion, or a My Little Pony, or well you get the picture. Somehow I thought I was the only little girl in the world who loved horses but at the same time it would absolutely KILL me that I couldn’t have one of my own. We lived in a small town which, although unincorporated and most likely no one would have done a darn thing IF my Mom and Dad had brought a pony to live in my back yard, but I digress, it just wasn’t going to happen. So I pacified myself with Stallion Flyers from the QH Congress, pin-ups from Horse Illustrated, and lots of Breyer Horses. I didn’t doodle in circles. I doodled in manes and tails on elegant Arabians. Well beyond elementary and teenage years, I still become completely enthralled with the sight, smell, and sound of a horse to where I’m this rediculous mess of teenage obsession. Or at least that’s what happened to me when I first saw Kiloton.

I’ve browsed through the NV website for years now, just looking, and mainly curious to understand how these amazing Thoroughbreds can come off the track and end up in videos several weeks or months later to where they are obediently walking, trotting, cantering, and STOPPING willfully for their riders. So I thought, after going to an equestrian college I’ve seen Zippo line Quarter Horses who acted crazier than some of these Thoroughbreds. Heck my OWN pleasure bred Zippo Line QHs acted crazier at times. What was their secret? I kept watching the website thinking, okay, once I hear about a bad experience, that will confirm the fact that these glorious creatures are indeed off-the-track thoroughbreds and you really need at least 100 years of riding experience to be able to handle these large magnificent gloriously fast creatures… or you need to be a jockey. I didn’t hear of any bad experiences though. In fact, several times when I visited their site, I saw these success stories where I wanted to be one of them. I heard about their show at the fairgrounds in Ohio so I dragged my husband and children there so we could watch these beautiful horses and see them in person. Having just a small bit of horse sense I can normally tell a horse’s personality within a few minutes, although for whatever reason I’m probably not as good at judging a human character in such a small amount of time – funny. So I figured, okay seeing them in person will cause me to stop this silly obsession with wanting an OTTB. I’ll see one with the lookeys and spook or will see one dump their rider or bite at people walking past the stall and that’ll be that. I’ll be cured of my *need* to have one. Wellllllllllll it never happened. I went home that day with my DH talking all about the horses currently on the site (this was MONTHS before I saw Kilo). I kept looking at the print outs that I’d made to show DH of the horses available for adoption. There were  a couple that I may have considered but I wanted to find that ONE horse that I knew was the one for me. Hard to explain, but after owning several of my own since I was old enough to buy my own, there are just some that you end up clicking with more than others.

So a few months go by and I’m checking the site here and there. Called a few times about some Standardbreds but I knew in my heart I really wanted a Thoroughbred, and although it was not easy to be patient, I had to wait on my heart to choose.

Then one day several months later, I saw him – on facebook of course – which has become my only social connection to the equine society lately with my non-horse career, kids, Border Collie stuff, and everything else going on. He was a beautiful black gelding with kind eyes and a white star with a strip and snip. He had one short white sock (maybe I’d call it an anklet if he were a mare but he would probably not like that too much) and amazing muscleing. He appeared young but willing with his ears constantly forward, and slightly immature – greenish – in the video of him being ridden, but he was only 3 and just off the track. My heart just skipped. He looked like my favorite horse Shoe that I rode as a child – I’ll have to talk about Shoe later.  I called DH and told him I had found a horse that I wanted. Of course, he laughed and said ‘honey do you really think we need a horse right now?’ He had a good point but it wasn’t about what we really needed. It was about a dream coming true, as sappy and silly as that sounds. I mean, who buys a horse because they NEED a horse? Later on that day, I wrote to the person who was adopting him out. We exchanged a few messages and I was set on seeing him sometime soon. I didn’t hear anything and then a week later or maybe two weeks later, I found out he was already spoken for… I just knew it was too good to be true😦

Bummed about my missed opportunity, I stopped looking at NV for a while. I figured it wasn’t meant to be. Christmas came and went and then spring was just around the corner. Something one early morning made me want to check out facebook. Much to my surprise, there was a video on there from my NV friend about a ‘wild crazy just gelded Thoroughbred’ I clicked on it and watched this completely docile black gelding following the trainer around as she called his name. She mentioned “Kilo.” My mind raced as I put two and two together. Was this THE Kiloton that I had wanted months ago? Why was he there? Was he boarded there or in training? What was he doing there? I searched further up and saw another video of him, along with like 10 or more comments of how many others thought he was beautiful and all that jazz… so I thought holy crap, he’s back and I can’t miss out again.

I said a prayer that morning that God could help me realize my dream. God answered my prayer and by the end of that afternoon, my husband was saying to me, “well do you want him?” as we stood beside this gorgeous creature. This really wasn’t happening was it? Next thing we know we’re signing the agreement and that was that.

It was surreal. It really still is surreal. As much as I would like to think I know about horses, I’m always still learning, and I’m always thinking of what I’m doing and what I need to be doing. With Kilo I probably over-think because I see this horse who to me, is perfect and I’m soooooooooooo scared to do anything to flaw his perfection. Obviously he isn’t perfect and I need to be super careful not to spoil him too much but really, DH told me the other day that “if he were any more spoiled by me he’d be wearing a diaper.” He’s not disrespectful at all though, so for anyone reading who is into Clinton Anderson (as I am too!) and understands that there is nothing worse than a spoiled disrespectful horse, don’t get me wrong because he does have respect. He is just well loved. And he always will be! And what is even more cool-er than that is that he really seems to love us too. Now that I’ve gone through boring the world with my pony-in-the-sky dream come true story I might be able to be a little less mushy-gushy in the next coming posts. Well, maybe.

(Photo by Audrey C. Crosby)

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