Wow, what an odd night I had last night! Let’s start with when I walked in to the indoor ring. Four horses were riding around, and one of them in particular was new. He was a chestnut, def an OTTB (one of the leggy, giraffe necky ones), with thin skin. I thought, geez that horse looks super familiar, just like the one I used to lease at my old barn.
Turns out, it was. Lawdy Me is an eleven (going on twelve) year old thoroughbred, born and raised on whatever they put in that water in KY, who raced for ten years, then ended up at a schooling barn in VA. I remember first sitting on him and walking (strutting), feeling like I could conquer the world, and immediately started training him under saddle.
One day, my instructor told me that they were running out of stalls, and if they couldn’t get someone to lease Lawdy, they were going to need to sell him. I volunteered as tribute and did a half lease on him. We basically spent a year going “whoa” and building up his topline, and I have to say out of alllllllll of the horses that I’ve had the pleasure of building up muscle with, he was the most difficult.
I would attribute this to two things: 1) I personally find it easier to build new muscles in horses that don’t have any to start with. When they already have some muscle mass in other areas, it’s much harder to get them to start building it in the teeny tiny areas that I’d like them to work. Just my experience. 2) I find it extremely challenging to try to explain to a horse that had one job, for ten years, and was very good at it and even loved it, that they are no longer doing that job anymore, and are going to need to learn something new. Horses, much like people, don’t always love change, and to tell an artist that they now have to learn finance can be difficult.
That aside, I am keeping my fingers crossed that my new instructor buys him. I always thought that daily riding, good feed, and more coursework would greatly benefit Lawdy. After seeing him last night, I can tell he is still unsure about how to jump, but he always gives his best effort and is very honest, even with the tough distances, which leads me to believe that with more practice, his finesse will increase and he will be more comfortable with jumping, which could in turn make him more comfortable with building a topline. Kind of the reverse pattern there, but with a horse like that that is always anticipating the next big thing, sometimes boring them with the “exciting” 2′ fence gets them to be more comfortable on the flat afterwards.
The one thing I could never figure out with Lawdy was his sore back. With such thin skin, he always hated when I curried and brushed his back. It seemed to be less sore when I used Back on Track saddle pads or when we would get him T Touch massages, but I would still get nasty faces when grooming.
Has anybody else ever worked with a successful OTTB? Any tips on sore backed horses and fixing that?