Sunday, February 2, 2014


About two years ago, I met this guy in a muddy field in Maryland:

In spite of his valiant effort, he couldn't get all the field's mud into his coat. Just most of it.

I had recently ended a full lease on another horse and couldn't find anything available for half lease in my area.  So the logical thing to do?  Buy an OTTB.  Errr, more specifically, an OTTB that had retired 3 years previously and been passed up by the local re-training programs for the double sins of being short (15.2hh) and a cribber.

He seemed to be enjoying his retirement

It was a pretty basic meet and greet as the farm didn't allow you to test ride and there wasn't even a lead rope available for us to mess around with.  I bribed him over with carrots, he let me touch him all over and pick up his feet and I figured - well, he's the right size for me, is not obviously damaged, and his breeder cared enough to keep him around for years after he stopped racing.  Let's give it a shot!  And we shipped him west.

What is this place?

I dubbed him Fawkes, after the phoenix in Harry Potter since he has a sort of lightning bolt shaped stripe
No seriously, what hell have you brought me to?
And thus began our adventures.  I have always had low level eventing rattling around in my brain as the ultimate goal; but knowing I bought an untrained horse accepted that I might need to be flexible to find out his place in the world.  

It has been a very educational 2 years and this horse has repeatedly taught me to throw out any preconceived notions I may have had about OTTBs, timelines, and horse training in general.  We have had lots of ups and downs from colics to severe spookiness and - the horror - the fear he might not enjoy jumping (which turned out not to be true, but we had a lot of fear to overcome to discover that).

If you jump high enough, the monsters can't reach you, right?
I have also discovered he has natural lead changes, can jump way higher than I need him to without breaking a sweat, and that both hunter and dressage judges seem to love him.  And more importantly, he is funny, smart, and keeps me on my mental game all the time.  This horse gives nothing for free, so when you get it, you know you have earned it.  The hard way.

We have worked hard, slowed the pace way down to build his confidence, and I have tried along the way to make the decisions necessary to optimize his potential and make riding fun for everyone.  And we have definitely made a lot of progress. 

First time schooling cross country was very exciting 

Sometimes I even ride reasonably well.  
We are currently messing around in the 2'6" hunter ring (Fawkes says that is the least terrifying of all the jumping options) and even dabble in dressage.  Not really sure what the future will bring, although odds are good that we will not take any sort of straight line to our destination.  I thought a blog might be a good way to encourage me to document our successes and trials.  And also to get more pictures :)  So welcome to our world, we try to keep it entertaining.


  1. Just found your blog, it's great! Can't wait to follow your adventures:)

  2. Thank you! I am still a little nervous about this blogging thing but hoping I don't mess up too badly :) I love your blog!!