Well, we have a name — and we had a bath, and are in a new grassy paddock. McLucky – Lucky we are calling him. Because I am lucky to have him, and he’s lucky to have me. He is very sound and is going to get a little pair of “fly shoes” on this week. Just to protect his feet from stomping. He nickers at everyone, because everyone feeds him.
I’ve schooled a hundred times I bet at Fair Hill’s Sawmill cross-country field, maybe more. It’s old hat for Rugby. But today with Mogie’s help we did conquer some good preliminary questions. I learned even MORE about the canter. Thinking what KIND of canter, getting the canter, then seeing the distance to the fence, then keeping my leg on. Using the reins to not punish or direct but to guide and assist. We did a preliminary coffin question, a downhill log, two strides to a ditch, a stride to another log; the preliminary downbank question, a log three strides to a downbank. And a couple other things. Practicing that CANTER and changing it to get what I want. Very cool stuff. Despite my occasional lapse in skill, Rug just jumped the snot out of everything today. I am fortunate to have him.
Got home with enough daylight to play a little with Nice Guy. He still needs a name. He is just coming around every day. He is quieter with a good look in his eye. He has gained a bit of weight, I think, and will try and get photos tomorrow. I just hand grazed him today but will work on getting the new trick of lunging installed tomorrow. He doesn’t like his mane pulled, but other than that I can’t find a SINGLE thing he isn’t just a sweetheart about. After I put him back, he hung around the gate, and I walked over to pet him — he came right to me,, let me scratch his forehead, play with his muzzle, and talk to him. He just stood there like, “you must be a nice person, maybe you are going to be my new Mommy,” and when I finally walked away, he nickered his little low blowing nicker at me. He must have just wanted some grain, I guess.
Nice Guy and I got a little familiar with each other today. I brought him in the barn and groomed him a little. He has thin skin, I think — I used a soft brush as he was a bit twitchy about brushing. He immediately made the runny poop too, so I know he was a little nervous about being worked with, so I will try to do something with him a bit each night so he doesn’t get so scared of things. He has no topline and no muscle, so he needs to start mild work soon, but Brian is still concerned he is out of condition and needs groceries so he’s going to start feeding him three or four times a day. I have not yet paired him up with another horse; he seems a bit clingy, like he’s missing the ones he was out with and wants new ones to be buddies, and I don’t want to get him hooked up with a partner too soon here. Then when you go to take them out of the pen, and work with them, they are calling and paying attention to the other horse across the farm and won’t pay attention to you…and you have to pull on them and they resent you for being tough. Better to just prevent the behavior if you can so you can get them to listen a little to start. It is really important to have their attention and respect from the beginning, I think, so that we can get our friendship started without distractions. Things take time. I watch him a bit before I catch him up and after I put him back – just to see what he does and where he goes. The old mare next to him is ignoring him, but she looks over to see where he is in the paddock. We are all watching him. He is settling in.
Oh and we found a grain he likes — only went through three different bags of feed to find it! He likes a local sweet feed best and is eating it with relish. Now we have to find him a good barn name.
“He’s a really nice guy,” she said. “No, I mean really – his name is Nice Guy, and he really is a nice guy.” Pat was talking about a chestnut gelding she had in the field. He needed a home. He had an injured foreleg from a pasture kick, but was sound. He was purchased off the track for resale, but because of the injury, Pat had to hang on to him a bit longer than she normally does when she sells Thoroughbred racehorses off the track. Unfortunately, Pat also discovered that Nice Guy was coming down off something — racetrack parlance is “crashing” — from a medication or some kind of treatment. She took his blanket off one day and most of his hair came with it, and the ribs were showing. Typically, this is anemia. But he was so sweet, so big and careful, and so congenial. In the pasture he was the bottom of the pecking order — and quite unconcerned about anything, even when the white salt block dumped over the fence near the shed terrified all the other occupants, Nice Guy didn’t give it a second look.
We were standing out in the field, talking. The herd leisurely walked up to us. Pat loves to chat about what she does – find quality Thoroughbreds off the track and resell them. It’s an art she loves to practice. Nice Guy very quietly circled the herd and came around to me, and nudged me for a pet; I very absently started to pet his head and scratch his forehead, and Pat stopped – “He’s picked you,” she said. And he sort of did. When she brought him out of the barn today he looked at the trailer and the ramp and walked right in, grabbed a mouthful of hay from the haybag and knew he was going on a trip.
So here Nice Guy landed. He ate grass in the backyard while we called Mom and wished her a happy birthday, and while we did some chores, while we kept the curious Jack Russells away (if he is to be a hunt horse I don’t want them bugging him quite yet) and while we discussed what to call him for a barn name. He liked the grass. He thought he was to race I think and looked around for the track and barns….he whinnied after a fashion….and of course all of ours whinnied back. He was happy then. He ate some more. Finally I put him in his own paddock for the night and made sure the fence was turned on. He was a bit afraid of the electric. I pushed a feed tub out away from the fence for him and gave him some grain. He ate deliberately, and picked at the hay. He went down the field and grazed. He looked around as he went. Nice Guy, you are home.