Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Did someone say contact?! the history

A post over at Calm, Straight, Forward got me thinking about contact.  The how and why of it.  Mostly it got me thinking about how correct contact transfers into every single thing that Steady and I do.  Whether it be the lack of or the correct contact.  It determines the kind of progress we make  in all other aspects.  So how about a series on "how contact helped/s my racehorse". 

As much as it was never a part of my history with Steady it does not change the fact the it is his entire history.  The fact that he IS a racehorse.  He was bred, raised, trained, ran, and ran, worked on a daily basis to be a racehorse.  So much so that his previous owner had every intention to run him straight into the ground.  He was planning to keep running a 10 year old horse in hopes to make a few more bucks.  You don't run the big races at 10 like he did at 2,3,4 and 5 when he won 6 of his 8 wins, and 7 of his 9 seconds, and 6 of his 10 thirds.  When he was running bigger races and winning almost $300,000.  Then he past his prime and started entering claiming races and changing hands until he had a year like 09' that he was ran 14 times!!!  At the age of 9!  With only 1 win, 1 place and 1 show. And just a little over a year ago on January 9th he ran his last race.  The owner giving instructions to the trainer to keep running him but a trainer that forsaw the inevitable an amazing horses who gave his heart to racing breaking down on the track and at best being put down because of injury or at worst ending his career at a kill auction.  The trainer who was owed money by the owner took it upon herself to give Steady Smiler a second chance at life and get some of the money owed to her.

This horse was bred, raised, trained and lived to race!  So many years on the track did leave him with some good habits.  Wonderful, respectful ground manners and the been there done that state of mind when it comes to traveling.  What it didn't leave him was any sort of abilities to succeed in a dressage ring or jumping for that matter.  So CONTACT???  What is that to a race horse?  Nonexsistent.  His idea of contact was you give pressure he brace against the bit and GOOOO.  He had two speeds stop and go.  Ok let me correct he did have 4 speeds 1st gear: prancing around(instead of standing still),  2nd gear: a big expressive walk(the only gear that will come in handy)  3rd gear: gallop and 6th gear: run like a bat outta hell.  Did you notice we skipped a few gears?  Those gears we have and are sloooowly working on finding,  All the while attempting to get rid of the exsisting gears except that walk.  The only other of his gears that will come in remotely handy is the galloping but that gear does not work in the way I need it to.  Example have you ever seen a horse galloped at a racetrack once they are done racing?  They always end up with their but to the outside and galloping sideways. Now I cannot think when that kind of galloping would ever come in handy in a dressage ring or cross country course for that matter.  It wouldn't so we start at square 1 or square 1 for us at least.
We will rate on a scale from 1-10 Balance 0!  Flexibilty 0!  Attention span 0!  Intellegence 10!  Work ethic 7!  Eager to please 10!  So he had the most important things the rest will come in time.

To be continued.... next to come where we began


  1. I didn't realize he had been on the track so long. Poor guy! What a different education he is getting now compared to his 7 years on the track and how wonderful that the trainer saw potential in him.

  2. Haha! I love your description of his enthusiasm at the end.

    My OTTB mare was somewhat like that. Even when she was older, dressage was just not ehr thing. She'd do just enough dressage so she could go jump something. Anything. She lived for it.

    And the racehorse gallop? Yeah, it's amazing XC. She was the most balanced thing on four legs, though, so I trusted her absolutely.

  3. oh wow I didn't know that about Steady! He is so lucky to have found you - and what an incredible horse he is to have been through all that.

  4. It's so great you two found each other :)

  5. Oh I can't wait to hear the rest! This is going to be a very interesting series. I'm glad that trainer saw his potential and sold him to a good home instead of killing him or sending him to the auction to get killed. I'm glad you ended up with him too. :)

  6. Oh AMY..I am so happy YOU have Steady and that he HAS YOU there for him too!

    Plans made for the horse without the horses heart in it, and sometimes even when it is(TB's love to run) doesn't mean that it is the best or them.
    So many people tell me that my mare is fortunate to have me now, I try so hard to find what she likes to do, apart from my will. I would love to ride dressage, but it may not be for us, she can't seem to relax in the arena.

    Steady will soon learn to relax, it's no race for you either.
    As you find that contact that is fluid and giving..he will convert. It will take some time. The contact from your elbows to hands(him owning them) and your constant-receptive to him- contact to allow him to be the horse he was mean't to be, without the presures of people's needs being met-like NOW- those will be key to all of it!.
    Give him that time, as you learn him. He'll forever be trusting you.


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