Posts Tagged With: horses

Meeting the family (and an oxer with a spread)

This month has been full of fun and exciting surprises. So many things have happened, and I want to tell you about them all! I don’t even know where to begin… so I’ll just begin with my favorite part: getting to meet more of my Mommy’s family.

For years, I’ve been hearing about my Mommy’s human siblings – and a little while back, I got to meet one of Mommy’s brothers – Josh – and his wife, Hannah (…as well as a bunch of other family members). It was a lot of fun to meet all of them!

More recently, I also got to meet Mommy’s other brother, D, and his two daughters, Liliana and her little sister, Angelina. Those girls are two of my favorite little humans ever! I felt like I’d known them their entire lives, though, because Mommy has been telling me all about them for as long as I can remember. It was amazing getting to meet them in person for the first time! And they even wore purple because they know that it’s my favorite color!

Liliana told me that she’s been eagerly waiting to meet me, too, and I was so flattered to hear that. She’s incredibly smart and knew a lot about horses already. She asked lots of really good questions, too, which Mommy and I love. It was clear that Liliana wanted to learn as much as she could about horses – and we were happy to answer all of her questions!

After introducing us,  Mommy explained to Liliana and Angelina how to behave and act around horses (no yelling or running, always let us know where you are and watch out for your own feet, because we might not see them… things like that).

Then, Mommy grabbed my grooming kit and we all went over to the hitching post so that Mommy could show the girls how to use the brushes. It was so much fun having both of the girls grooming on me at the same time! They learned quickly and did a great job – with my Mommy and their Daddy supervising (and taking lots of photos).

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Mommy and the girls tacked me up in the most colorful outfit they could put together; four different polos and my new owl saddle pad. I loved it! Mommy knows how much I love to dress in bright colors. D and his girls watched while Mommy and I had a sunset workout. Every time we came around the turn, they cheered my name and clapped to show me what a good job I was doing. It was awesome! (Needless to say, I was on my best behavior… so they clapped a lot!) After we were done with our “serious” work, I begged Mommy to let me walk the girls around… and she said yes!  Mommy’s brother, D, said that it was the first time his girls had ridden a horse! We were all very excited. First, Mommy let Angelina sit in the saddle in front of her so that she could keep a hold of her and make sure she was safe while we walked around. Even though I knew that Mommy would hold on tightly to Angelina, I walked as slowly and carefully as I could. IMG_2422 I was glad to hear Angelina say that she was having fun, because I was, too! When Angelina’s turn was over, her Daddy helped her out of the saddle – and then Mommy hopped down out of the saddle, too. She fastened the helmet snugly on Liliana’s head – and then explained to her the meaning of a “leg-up” (where Mommy grabs hold of Liliana’s left ankle and helps her up while Liliana jumps as high as she can and swings her right leg over my back) before attempting to give her a leg-up into the saddle. Liliana is very athletic, so she did a good job – even though I’m much taller than her!

Liliana already knew how to turn and stop using the reins, so Mommy just explained to her how to sit correctly with her back straight and her heels down, and how to get me to walk by using pressure from her heels… and we were off! IMG_2378 We ended our rides when it began to get dark outside, and then Mommy, D and the girls untacked me, gave me a quick shower and lots of carrots! Mommy doesn’t like to put me back into my stall when I’m still wet, so she had me walk on the hot walker for a little while. She told me that I needed to walk for a little while longer before having dinner, anyway – since I always have to wait at least an hour after my workout before I eat, in order to prevent tummy aches – so I didn’t mind. When I’m walking on the hot walker by myself, I usually just zone out and dream about jumping in a Grand Prix someday with Mommy…

Liliana and Angelina helped Mommy get my dinner grain ready, and when I was dry I got to go back to my stall and eat. I was sad to say goodbye to them when they had to leave, but Mommy assured me that I would see them again sometime. All in all, I think that was my favorite day (and night) of the entire month. IMG_2405 The next morning, Mommy and I had an early ride – and then she left for San Diego with her human parents, not to return again until… the next night. I know, I know; that’s not a very long time. But it was a long time to me! Luckily, my Aunt Bonnie was there to feed me my dinner and let me walk on the hot walker with my friends.

When Mommy finally came back home from San Diego, she let me out of my stall to run around and play in the arena. I had a lot of energy! We didn’t have a proper workout that night, though, because it was already supposed to be my day off.

The next morning, however, we worked over some raised ground poles – and it was way harder than it seemed! But Mommy said that it’s a good exercise for me to practice, just like all of our ground pole patterns and exercises.

Mommy also said that she and Daddy had a discussion about my training schedule, and they decided that I was ready to move up to hourlong workouts each time – just like before the “hot nail incidents!” Mommy and I have been gradually increasing the duration and difficulty level of my workouts in an attempt to get me back into the same kind of shape that I was in before – on my way to the Grand Prix… and I guess this means that I’m right on track!

Since moving to California and getting back into the swing of things, I was on a “three-days-on, one-day-off, two-days-on, one-day-off” (3/1/2/1) schedule, with mixed durations. Sometimes I would work for a solid hour, sometimes for a half hour, and sometimes for more or less time (depending on factors such as how well I behaved, or how hard I had worked the day before, etc). Now, I’ll be on a “4/1/3/1” schedule, working for an hour each time!

Anyway, enough of that technical mumbo-jumbo… Let’s get to the good part: my second favorite day this month, when Mommy and I jumped a 3’9 oxer with a 3′ spread! And I was even wearing an English Jumping Hackamore, too!

Now, although it wasn’t the biggest or the widest oxer I’ve jumped, it’s the first time I’ve jumped an oxer with a considerable spread since getting back into shape. And although I don’t usually like jumping in a jumping hackamore (because I don’t like the way the curb chain feels on my chin when I stretch out over the jump), I didn’t mind it this time. Probably because I was so happy just to be jumping… And I was excited to be jumping a big, wide jump like that, too!

Anyway, I haven’t jumped since then – but according to Mommy, we will be jumping again very soon…

did get new shoes from my friend, Tim the Horseshoer, though!

"Halfway there," she said...

“Halfway there,” she said…

Mr. Tim said that these new shoes have a “flight rating” that will allow me to jump up to five-and-a-half-feet high with a six-foot-spread. I’m not quite there again yet, but I know it’s going to be pretty soon…

Even though I used to get nervous while getting my feet trimmed and my new shoes put on (at least for the past year or so), I feel very calm and safe with my friend, Mr. Tim. And my feet feel better and better every time he gets done putting on my new shoes! My legs don’t get as sore after workouts anymore, either…

Can you tell that I love my friend, Tim the Horseshoer?

Well, although there’s much more to talk about, I think I’ll save the rest for next time. It’s getting late in the day, and Mommy said that we were going to be working this evening – so I’d better go get prepared for a workout!

I hope you’re all are staying cool in this heat, friends. I’ll catch y’all later!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is good (so enjoy the ride)

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?

Although I do work very hard, the work I do is mostly fun – and I get to hang out with my Mommy and all of my friends just as much, if not more. I’m never lonely because there’s always a friend or two somewhere nearby.

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And now, thanks to my wonderful Aunt Bonnie and my best friend, Chief, I have a toy in my stall that I can play with when I’m hanging out and waiting for Mommy to come back! Aunt Bonnie brought a big orange cone for Chief, but he didn’t seem to want it… And, because Chief knows how much I love to play with the cone in the arena, he asked his Mommy to give it me!

I like to play with my cone during the day when I’m bored, after Mommy and I have already worked, before she comes back for an evening visit… But it’s also fun to play with my cone at night before I hit the shavings!

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I’ll be forever grateful to Chief and his Mommy, my Aunt Bonnie. They spoil me so much!

Honestly, I’m probably the most spoiled horse in the history of horses. My Mommy loves to spoil me, too – and so does her Mommy! In fact, last weekend, my Mommy and her Mommy went on a shopping trip just to buy me pretty things! (They said that their favorite tack store was going out of business and having a sale, but I know that was really just another excuse to buy me lots of cool presents.)

I got a cool, stylish new fly mask and a brand new lead rope…

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And I even got a tail bag! 

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This is the first tail bag that I’ve ever had, and I really love it. But I didn’t know what to make of it at first! Right after Mommy put it on me, I tried to swat away some flies with my tail – and I seriously thought that someone was smacking me with something! I kept testing it out, and I kept getting spooked when I’d hit myself in the side with the tail bag. For the life of me, I could not understand why someone would smack me just for swatting away flies… and I had no idea who was doing it, either – because I could see Mommy standing right next to me! Of course, she was laughing, and I did not find the situation very funny.

Finally, Mommy grabbed the tail bag and pulled it as close to my face as she could to show me that it was actually attached to my tail. When I found out that I had been spooking at my own tail, I felt pretty silly – but that feeling didn’t last too long. The wheels in my head began to turn, and I realized something very important: the tail bag was much longer than my actual tail. You might be wondering why that matters – and I will gladly tell you. With a tail bag much longer than my actual tail, I can swat away flies that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach! I can even swat them off of my shoulders if I aim well enough! It’s absolutely heavenly… especially because I have great aim!

Anyway, the presents didn’t stop there.

Mommy and her Mommy also bought me some brand new saddle pads. Our unanimous favorite is the one with cute little owls on it! Mommy loves owls. I’ve never seen one in real life, but if they’re as cute in real life as they are on the saddle pad, then I definitely want to be their friend.

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In addition to the favorite owl pad, I got a bright blue saddle pad, a bright pink one and one with a black-and-white pattern on it to match the fancy saddle bag that Mommy got before she and I moved out here.

Mommy also got me five different pairs of boots, all of which I love (but some of which I love more than others).

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IMG_1495Those aren’t all of them, but those ones are my favorites. (And, of course, I won’t wear a different boot on each leg while I work, like I do sometimes with colorful polos… I’ll probably only wear matching sets. But you never know!) It just figures that the boots I love the most are the ones Mommy wants to save only for special occasions… like jumping day!

Speaking of jumping day… (…I bet you already know what I’m going to say…)

That’s right, you guessed it: I got to jump on Friday! (And yes, I wore my brand new boots and one of my brand new saddle pads!) But I knew it was jumping day before I was even tacked up… because Mommy gave me marshmallows, my super-special jumping day treat!

After warming up on the flat and then over some small jumps, Mommy and I worked through a line that consisted of three jumps. The first two jumps didn’t have a stride in between (which is called a “bounce”). That means that I land from the first jump and immediately jump the second one. The second to third jump had one single stride in between. So it was a “bounce to a one-stride” line. It was only a little bit tricky, but a lot of fun.

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Every time we jumped through the line successfully, Mommy would raise the jumps up a little higher. Eventually, the last jump was set to three and a half feet, which is the highest I’d jumped since getting to California and getting back into shape. Once that last jump was set at 3’6, it was definitely much more difficult… but nothing that Mommy and I couldn’t handle.

When Mommy had determined that I’d jumped through the line enough times – and praised me profusely for being such a good boy – she decided that I deserved another reward. Mommy knows how much I love to jump really high, so my reward was getting to jump a four-foot-high oxer! 

Mommy moved two of the jumps from the line together to make an oxer and took the last jump out completely. As we cantered around the turn and started our approach to the jump, I could feel Mommy’s heart pounding and realized that she was a little bit nervous! Even though I wasn’t nervous at all, I understood why Mommy was. It had been about a year since we’d jumped anything nearly that big, and Mommy must have been feeling a lot of emotions.

First of all, I know she was nervous just because it’s been so long since she has jumped that big, too, but she was also probably really scared that I’d hurt myself and have to take time off again. I didn’t want her to be nervous that I would refuse the jump or knock it down, in addition to all of the other things she was feeling, so I made sure to canter up to it with confidence. I wanted her to know that I would take care of her, but I also wanted her to know that I was ready for this!

It was a piece of carrot cake. I didn’t even have to try very hard to jump over it!

Mommy told me later that she asked me to go a little too fast on the approach because she was nervous, and she also joked that she was “hiding” in my mane while we were in the air! I assured her that she did a very good job during her first time jumping four feet since last summer… and she assured me of the same thing! She told me about a thousand times how proud of me she was… and, of course, I got more marshmallows afterward as a special treat.

Anyway, I know I sometimes complain about the hard work that I have to do in order to get back into shape (…especially about the exercises from that “101 Jumping Exercises” book that Mommy loves to practice), but I really do have to admit that the hard work is paying off! Mommy said that if I keep working this hard and doing such a great job, she thinks we will be jumping five feet again in a matter of mere months! I know that we can do it. I can hardly wait!

So, I guess that’s about all I have to share with you tonight. Not because there’s not more – there’s always more – but I’ll have to share the rest with you another time. For now, friends, I have to hit the shavings and get some sleep. But I’ll write again very soon, and when I do, I’ll be sure to tell you all about the first trail ride we went on since moving to California! Until then, remember to work hard, listen to your humans and always ask for one more treat (because you just might get it if you ask for it)! I’ll catch y’all later…

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Adventures Never End

Friends, I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve written; I can assure you that it has not been for any lack of excitement around here! Actually, there has been more excitement than I’ve known what to do with. I have a lot to tell you and a lot to catch you up on… but first, I have to tell you about what happened the other evening when Mommy came out to give me my dinner grain!

As usual, I watched Mommy drive up and get out of her car. I waited (im)patiently for her to come over and say hello… but, to my surprise, she didn’t! She and Kimberly, Splash’s Mommy, were standing by the fence, staring at the horses in the neighboring ranch. When I saw some movement from the ground of the paddock by the hay feeder, I put my head over the top of my stall to get a better view of what was going on. I saw Mommy climb through the fence and run over there, and that’s when I realized that there was a horse down with his legs stuck in the fence of his pipe corral! He couldn’t get up!

Mommy went to the horse and tried to calm him down so he wouldn’t thrash around and hurt himself, and then she looked him over to make sure he wasn’t seriously hurt. I saw her get up and run all the way to the other end of the neighbor’s property where it looked like there was a little barn or a house, and I could hear her yelling for someone to help.

When she came running back alone, I knew that meant that no one was home over there. Before I could even make the suggestion to her, I heard Mommy say that she was going to go try to find the guys who work at our barn to help get the horse free. She asked Kimberly to go and keep the horse calm so that he didn’t injure himself by thrashing around, and then Mommy hopped back into her car and disappeared quickly out of sight.

When Mommy’s car returned, she was followed by Cassie, one of the guys who works at our ranch, and his brother. They all hopped the fence and ran over to where Kimberly and the horse were. Cassie had a knife and some rope, and I could see that they were going to try to get the horse free, even though the owners of that ranch were nowhere to be found.

Just a minute later, though, a big truck came driving up on that side of the fence and a guy and a lady hopped out. Everyone looked both calm and a little frantic at the same time. I strained my eyes to see farther (and by that, I really mean that I lifted my head – because, as you probably already know, that’s how we horses see things that are far away), and I realized that the horse also had his head caught under the raised hay-feeder!

Although this isn’t a photo of our neighbor’s property, their hay-feeder looked sort of like this:

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…and the horse’s head was caught underneath, with his neck resting on the bar on the bottom. It must have been so uncomfortable for that poor guy!

The first thing the “Rescue Team” did was to put a halter on the horse (Mommy got that part done), and then Mommy held the horse’s head up while two people moved the hay feeder carefully away from the horse’s head. It’s a good thing Cassie brought a knife, too, because the hay feeder was tied to the pipe corral fence with bailing twine, and they had to use the knife to cut it in order to move the feeder. Then, Cassie and his brother wrapped some ropes underneath the armpit of the horse’s front legs and more rope around his back legs, and together, Mommy and the two guys rolled the horse over onto his other side, with the other lady helping to make sure that the horse’s legs got out from under the pipe corral fence while they rolled him over.

Later, when Mommy finally was able to come over to me and give me my dinner grain, she told me that the horse had some big gashes from trying to free himself, but that he was otherwise unharmed. I was relieved to hear that! The only bad part was that the poor guy has COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and that he was having a hard time breathing. The lady and the guy who work at the other barn were going to give the poor, sweet horse a shower and then clean his wounds and let him get some rest.

As Mommy was telling me all this, we saw the lady leading the horse out of the wash area. The horse was stumbling badly, and then we heard the lady start to yell to her co-worker. I don’t think he could hear her, because he didn’t come running. Mommy, however, did. She ran over and climbed the fence again just in time to see the horse fall down – hard. I saw the lady point up toward the barn at the other end of the property, and Mommy took off in that direction again. I assumed that the lady had asked Mommy to get the guy that she had been yelling for; sure enough, Mommy and that same guy came running back down toward the lady and the fallen horse.

The guy shoved something in the horse’s mouth – which Mommy told me later was a medicated inhaler – and then the horse lifted his head as though he was going to try to get up. He didn’t, though; I could see his sides heaving all the way from my stall. The poor thing had clearly blacked out from lack of oxygen! Once she knew the horse was okay and that she wasn’t needed anymore, Mommy came walking back over to me. She said that those nice people were going to let the horse lay there and catch his breath for as long as he needed to, and then they were going to continue taking care of his wounds. I was glad for the horse that he had people who cared so much about him.

When I didn’t see that horse for a couple days after that, I began to grow worried; but, as it turned out, the people had just been keeping him up in the barn so that he could recover from this traumatic incident. When I saw them walking him back out to his paddock, I wanted to cheer! Instead, I just shoved my nose into Mommy’s pocket and sniffed for carrots or treats.

So, that about sums up that bit of excitement… but there has been plenty more going on aside from that! Let’s see… Where do I even begin?

Well, the last time we spoke, I had just encountered my first rattle snake, right? Yes, I remember now… I was incredibly brave. I think it was Mommy who ran away scared, wasn’t it? Since then, I’ve done lots and lots of things. For instance…

Mommy has been stepping up the intensity of our workouts. She has this horrid little book – ummm, I mean… this awesome little book with A HUNDRED AND ONE exercises to prepare a horse for jumping, and she’s been pulling ideas from it constantly! That’s right. OVER A HUNDRED EXERCISES. And Mommy clearly thinks these exercises are great. Not that I don’t, of course… At least she doesn’t make me do more than one or two different ones each day. One if I have to practice harder before I can get it right, and two if I seem to pick up on one or both fairly quickly.

We did a pattern of circles with some lead changes thrown in…

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And we did cloverleaf patterns with tiny little circles in each direction at the trot and canter…

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And then one day we did some other squiggly pattern with lead changes thrown in…

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And we even did a crazy little circle pattern that took me the entire second half of our workout to perfect. First, we went over two poles on a circle to the inside, and then turned to the outside for a circle… and back over two poles on a circle to the inside… and so on. (If you still don’t understand what the pattern is – don’t worry. Neither did I!)

All of these exercises have been hard work, but I have to admit that they’re actually kind of fun. They really make me think hard about what Mommy is asking me to do, and they force me to pay better attention. Mommy said that she feels I’m behaving much better in general lately – and I guess she thinks it’s because of that!

Anyway, it hasn’t all been work without play… I got to jump a little one-stride line a few weeks ago, and it was pretty fun. We got up to about three feet high on the second jump, which was plenty for me. It’s a lot harder than you would think, going from one jump to the next with only a stride in between!

I also got to meet a bunch of Mommy’s family one weekend. I got to meet some of her second cousins, as well as one of her great-aunts and one of her great-uncles. And they were all pretty great!

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I even got lots of hugs, which was the best part! You know how much I love hugs.

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And a couple days after that, I got to meet Mommy’s brother and sister-in-law!

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Mommy’s sister-in-law is pregnant with a baby human, so – naturally – she wanted to go over and say hello to the baby horse!

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But, of course, she was much more excited to meet me than any of the other horses… because, you know… I’m a celebrity and all that.

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It was truly wonderful getting to meet Mommy’s human family – and not only because they all gave me a ton of treats! I love making new friends, especially when they’re humans who mean so very much to my Mommy.

The week following the excitement of meeting the family, I got to jump again! That time, though, we worked our way up to a vertical that was three and a half feet high! Now, as y’all know, that’s basically child’s play to me… Except for the fact that I’m still not in my top performance shape, so it was actually just a little bit difficult at first. But then it got easier and easier. I begged Mommy to let me jump higher, but she said that 3’6 was plenty high enough for that day.

Aside from all of that excitement, Mommy and I have just been hanging out together…

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…and hanging out with friends…

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Watching romantic sunsets together…

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Goofing around…

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And just enjoying life in general.

That’s about all the excitement that I have to share with you today, friends. I promise I’ll try not to wait so long before I write again! Stay cool, and I’ll catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Circles (and so on)

Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to concentrate on the things that Mommy asks me to do. It’s not always my fault, though; there are lots of distractions out there in the big ol’ world – and I’m a very curious character!

Today when Mommy and I went down to the lower arena for our workout, there were two horses in the big paddock that’s next to that arena. Immediately I assumed that they were not horses, but aliens or monsters of some sort disguised as horses, because I’ve been here for a month now and I’ve never seen horses out in that big field. So, it was only natural that I was a little bit terrified of them at first.

Being the good, patient Mommy that she is, she allowed me to walk over to the wall to say hello to the  so-called “horses” and confirm that they were, in fact, only horses (and not aliens/monsters/shape-shifters).

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“Alright, as long as you’re SURE that you’re both JUST horses…”

Well, once I knew for certain that they were of my own species, I wanted very badly to go and hang out with them. How much fun they must be having in that big, open field with all that space to run around! They obviously wanted me to come out and play with them, too, because they kept running back and forth along the wall of the arena on that side. It was very exciting! I love making new friends – and here were two horses that wanted to be friends with me, too!

I have to be honest and admit that, in all of the excitement, I wasn’t paying any attention to Mommy at all. No matter where in the arena I was, I kept trying to turn and run back over to the horses in the field. I was being very fancy and enthusiastic about it, though; trotting sideways, cantering in place, spinning and trying to bolt back over to them…

When I finally realized that Mommy was getting frustrated with me for ignoring her and pretending she wasn’t there, it was already too late. I heard her say the dreaded words, “Well, I guess this is nothing that a million 20-meter circles can’t fix…” and I knew that I was in for it.

Any horse who has ever been “banished to a 20-meter circle” will probably be able to relate to what I’m about to say:

Circles. Are. BORING.

Now, any horse who has never been punished in such a way… well, you’re clearly just a goody-four-shoes and you need to get out and live a little. (Then again, I guess I’m not making a very good argument by telling you how boring it is to have to work on a 20-meter circle for an entire half-hour, right? In fact, if I had to do today’s workout over again, I would have paid more attention in the beginning so that I wouldn’t have to end up on a circle forever. But I promise you, that does not make me a goody-four-shoes!)

Yep, that’s right: I had to work on a 20-meter circle for the rest of my workout, which was a solid half-hour. Mommy doesn’t usually like to make me work on a circle for such a long time, because she knows that it can be hard on a horse’s joints to do such repetitive patterns for so long, but I have to hand it to her:  her (diabolical) plan worked. I started paying attention to her instead of the other horses, because I probably would have tripped and fallen on my face if I tried to trot or canter a circle without looking where I was going. And it’s pretty tough not to keep your head down and your eyes looking where you’re going when you’re constantly being asked to bend to the inside.

So, all’s well that ends well, and Mommy gave me lots of praise (and carrots) for finally being able to focus and put in some good quality work. Once I was all cooled down and Mommy had taken off my tack, I got to roll in my stall and take a long, cool drink of water from my automatic waterer.

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Then, I got a long shower and Mommy let me eat grass with my friends, Becky and Olive, until I was dry. A little more than an hour after I was done cooling out, Mommy gave me my grain mash. She likes to make my grain into a cold mash these days because she wants to make sure that I get enough water when it’s this hot out (even though I drink a lot and I have two mineral salt licks in my stall), but she also knows how much I love to be messy!

Mmmm, I love getting mash-face when I eat my breakfast!

Mmmm, I love getting mash-face when I eat my breakfast!

Oh, and I started my monthly ration of Psyllium yesterday. I have to report that I love Psyllium! The kind Mommy got me tastes like apples and molasses, and it makes my breakfast that much more delicious. I’m almost sad that I’ll only get it for one week out of each month!

Anyway, in other news… the new baby is still absolutely adorable and Robin is still a wonderful Mama.

Shhh... The baby is sleeeeeeping!

Ssshhhhh… The baby is sleeeeeeping!

I still haven’t met either of them, but Mommy has been taking pictures for me and she confessed to me that she’s been sharing my carrots with Robin. I don’t mind, though. Mommies need lots of vegetables to stay strong so they can protect their beautiful babies, and I’m more than happy to share my carrots with Robin! Maybe that means that she and I can be friends someday… I just hope Mommy made sure to tell Robin that the carrots were from me!

Alright, that’s about all I have to say. I think I’m going to go take a nap; this morning’s workout really took a lot out of me! Stay cool, friends. I’ll catch y’all later…

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A little encouragement goes a LONG way!

This is just too exciting not to post. I don’t mean to brag (even though I know I brag all the time, because, well… I’m awesome!), but my human and I were featured on New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program‘s Facebook page! They posted a photo of us jumping five feet on their Facebook page to show people that small horses can still do anything that big horses can do, as long as they have a good human and a big heart!

 

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Friends, this just goes to show you that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. When I left the racetrack all those many years ago, I was certain that my failures on the track would mean a one-way ticket to the livestock auction, which would almost definitely mean death for a scrawny little guy like me! But I was rescued by a wonderful woman named Phyllis Dawson, and soon after that, I was adopted by my Mommy and Daddy. Even though I wasn’t adopted through the “New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program,” I still feel like I was absolutely one of the lucky ones. And I have all the respect in the world for “New Vocations,” because they’re dedicated to helping all of my friends and relatives find a new life after they are done racing.

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program was founded in 1992 to offer retiring racehorses a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes. Most of the horses arriving at New Vocations are injured and thin, suffering the normal occupational hazards of racing. Without a useful skill to offer, their previous option was often a one-way ticket to the local livestock auction.

New Vocations provides a safety net for these horses, matching them with qualified individuals and following up on their rehabilitation and vocational training to ensure a successful transition. Our focus is on adoption versus retirement, believing that each horse deserves to have an individual home and purpose.

Nearly 5,000 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have been placed in qualified homes through New Vocations’ efforts since its inception. These horses have come from 30 different racetracks and have been adopted by families throughout the country.”

Thank you, New Vocations, for giving me such amazing and heartfelt encouragement. Mommy and I are ecstatic, and we really appreciate all the work you do to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds after their racing careers are over!

Well, that’s about all I have to say for now, y’all. Thanks for sharing in my excitement, friends, and remember: you can do anything if you put your mind to it! And don’t forget to tell your humans about New Vocations, so they can spread the word to any of their human friends who are looking to change the life of a lucky horse in need of a second chance.

Catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heaven in a Hay Roll!

Y’all, I just have to go on a little rant about how awesome my life is. I’m in heaven! It may be freezing outside, but life couldn’t be better.

Just when I was beginning to wonder what my friends and I were going to do when the grass in our paddock was all eaten up, my Auntie Carrie brought us a GIGANTIC HAY ROLL! I’ve never seen a stack of hay this big before. It’s amazing!

Hey, Mommy! Look at what I have!

Hey, Mommy! Look at what I have!

When Mommy arrived at the barn the day the hay roll got here, she came out to the paddock to bring me in for some quality time. I walked over to the gate, eager to show her the best part of my day. Once she put my halter on, I turned and brought her over to the biggest pile of hay in the world… and took a huge bite! She laughed and said she was happy for me… but not nearly as happy as was!

Yum! I love my life!

Yum! I love my life!

When it’s cold outside, and especially when it’s cold and windy and there’s no shelter, it’s really important that we horses have a way to keep warm – aside from wearing our winter jackets. Eating is a great way to help us keep our body temperatures up, but in the winter when there’s no grass, we need a little assistance from our humans. That’s why my Auntie Carrie got a hay roll for each paddock! I love my life and I love my home. I also love being in the paddock with Lewis, Doc, Rudy and Canuck. It’s like having my own little herd! We’re all friends, and I just do what everyone else tells me to do. We all take turns eating the giant hay roll, and when we’re full, we take a nap in the sunshine with our warm blankets on.

I could just stand and eat at the hay all day long.

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Yup, I’m in heaven.

Since it’s been below freezing for the past several days, Mommy and I haven’t been able to do any work. In fact, Mommy has barely been out to see me at all! Now, don’t get me wrong; she or Daddy (or both of them) come to see me every day, but lately they haven’t been staying very long. Mommy showed up in the middle of the day yesterday, and she didn’t even bring me out of the paddock! She just picked my feet as I was eating my hay pile in the paddock, gave me kisses and hugs and then ran back to the warm truck. I don’t blame her, though; the wind was pretty strong, and she doesn’t even have a layer of fur underneath her human clothes, like I have underneath my blanket!

I can’t wait for the weather to warm up again so that Mommy and I can do some more work. I love getting to hang out with my friends and eat hay all day, but I love working even more. So, Old Man Winter, if you’re reading this… how about a vacation? You look like you need one…

I guess that’s about all I have to say for now, friends. I’m heading inside for the night, and I think my dinner grain will be ready soon. So I’m going to eat dinner, munch on some hay, and fall asleep in the warm, cozy barn next to all my friends. I hope y’all stay warm and have a great weekend!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter riding clothes

It’s been nice having Mommy back home, and even nicer having days warm enough (and dry enough) to actually ride! Yesterday was rainy and wet, but the day before – and also  today – Mommy and I got to ride in the arena. We were both happy to be out in the open! We didn’t even care that it was cold; we were just so eager to get back to work.

Heading out to the arena!

Heading out to the arena!

Even though I’ve had a lot of pent-up energy from being stuck in the barn for days (due to inclement weather), I made sure to focus on everything Mommy asked me to do. I wanted to be on my best behavior, because I don’t know whether or not it’s going to rain again soon, and I’d rather put in a good, happy, fun ride than to go crazy and get Mommy upset.

When I’m well behaved, Mommy brings peppermint candies out with her and keeps them in the zipper pocket of her heavy jacket. When I do what she asks me to without a fuss, she gives me a peppermint and makes a big fuss about me.

The other day, she dropped one of the peppermints as she was trying to hand it to me. But I had been such a good boy that she simply couldn’t let the treat go to waste. So she dismounted and grabbed the peppermint candy for me. She wiped it off and told me she would give it to me if I posed for a photo.

Yeah, I know; I'm a little bit muddy... You know how I love to be covered in mud!

Yeah, I know; I’m a little bit muddy… I rolled RIGHT before Mommy got to the farm! 

Of course, I love posing for photos. Everyone knows that. But I got a treat for it, anyway!

After our ride today, Mommy told Daddy that I was perfect. I even did lead changes every two strides down the middle of the dressage area in the huge arena! I knew exactly what Mommy wanted me to do, and she told me it was like I was reading her mind. All she had to do was shift her weight and I hopped over to the other lead. She didn’t even have to count for me after the first time! I know for a fact that I made Mommy so proud!

I got to visit with my good friend, Baby George, after my workout. He told me that I did a good job; he’d been watching my entire workout while he grazed with his pony friend, Gideon.

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“Good job, Icchy!”

Baby George is awesome. He and I are becoming good friends. I like to hang out with him after I work, or when I’m grazing with one of my humans. He’s the only horse in the barn who always whinnies to me when he sees me coming! It makes me feel really special.

My friend, Baby George

My adorable friend, Baby George

Mommy shares pieces of my peppermint treats with Baby George sometimes, to reward him for letting her pet him and scratch his belly and things like that. I don’t even mind sharing my treats with him! He’s still a little shy, but he is now well aware of the joy of peppermint candies, so he’s learning to like humans much more all the time! Auntie Carrie is training him to be smart and friendly. I bet he’s going to be an amazing pony when he grows up!

Anyway, Mommy said this entire week is supposed to be warm, and that means that we’ll actually (hopefully) get in a whole week’s worth of workouts! (Whew, say that one three times fast!) I’ll let you know what happens… I’m hoping that there’s a jumping day on the horizon soon!

Stay warm, friends… catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My newest friends

Okay, I know it’s been a while, but there’s been a lot going on! I’m a busy horse these days, you know. I’ve been making friends all over the place!

A few nights ago, Mommy showed up at the barn super late in the evening with a friend of hers. It was so late, I’d already eaten my dinner grain and half of my night hay, and I was taking a nap when they arrived! Mommy said her friend’s name was Ashley, and that she’d known Ashley for a long time. I could tell that Ashley was a horsewoman, because she walked right up to me and began petting my face and scratching behind my ears! Ashley lives in Washington D.C. and came to Nashville just to meet me! 

My new friend, Ashley!

My new friend, Ashley!

Mommy and I worked in the dressage arena, even though it was really dark; that arena has lights that are almost as bright as daytime. I loved showing off for Ashley because she always clapped and cheered me on when I did something well! (And even sometimes when I didn’t!)

And last night, I met another one of Mommy’s friends. Apparently, she’s known this guy even longer than she’s known my friend, Ashley!

My new friend, Anthony!

My new friend, Anthony!

His name is Anthony, and he immediately won me over when he gave me some treats!

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Mmm, molasses cookies – my favorite!!

Anthony lives in California and also in Dallas. I’ve never been to either of those places, but Anthony said that I’d probably like them both. And you know what? He came to Nashville just to see me! 

Anyway, I thought that Anthony was going to watch Mommy and me ride, but as it turned out, he was there to take a riding lesson, himself!

That's Jenna giving Anthony a lesson on Sonny!

That’s Jenna giving Anthony a lesson on Sonny!

He did a great job, and he’s going to take another lesson tomorrow.

I had today off, though I didn’t mind it one bit. I got to go outside into a paddock with lots of grass while Anthony had his riding lesson, and I was happy to come in when they were done. It was hot today! And the flies were biting me non-stop!

Wow, this grass looks delicious!

Wow, this grass looks delicious!

You see, the reason I had today off is because I banged my ankle when I was being silly in my stall, and it was swollen today when Mommy got there. She wanted me to go out for a little while in order to help with the circulation, but she didn’t want me to stay out too long because she knew I would probably end up hurting myself… again. When I went back inside, Mommy told me that I’d better not have any more bumps or bruises when she came back again to check on me! She told me that if I didn’t, and I was all in one sound piece, I would get to actually do some work tomorrow!

That’s about all I have to say for today, friends. Stay out of the heat and make sure you have lots of water to drink! I’ll catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not all jumping days need marshmallows

Although I didn’t actually get any marshmallows yesterday, I did get to jump! And you know what I realized? Not all jumping days need marshmallows. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to jump; now jumping is a treat for me!

We had a long warm up to start, and Mommy gave me lots of walking breaks. Even though the sky was covered in clouds, it was still pretty warm and humid. We stretched out for a while at the walk and the trot, too, before Mommy asked me to come into a frame. Plus, there was a lot for me to look at – and Mommy knew that I needed to take my time.

There is always a lot to look at these days!

There is always a lot to look at these days!

Even though I’m still in good shape physically – I still have great stamina and cardio and all that – my muscles are out of shape. Important muscles. The muscles I need to hold myself in the correct body frame, the muscles I need to jump… Unfortunately, because I had two months off, I’ll have to spend almost as much time getting back into shape.

You see, when a working horse like me has an injury or a setback, it can be devastating. At least mentally, if not physically. Because when you’ve already lived through it – having to take time off for an injury, that is, and having to come back from it – you know from experience how difficult it is. It’s difficult to stay sane, not being able to work; it’s also tough knowing that coming back from the injury – to where I was before it happened – is going to take about as long as the healing of the injury itself! You have to really try to stay positive, and it’s always a bit of trial and error on the part of my humans, figuring out how to “keep me sound,” or keep me from injuring myself again.

So, my advice to you is not to get hurt! 

Anyway, we had a great workout yesterday. I behaved like a gentleman on the flat.

Warming up at the canter.

Warming up at the canter.

We worked over ground poles for a while, and it was a good thing, too; I was being pretty silly, and I kept jumping over the poles like they were big jumps! So we went over the ground poles again and again and again (and again and again!) until I finally calmed down and cantered over them like a normal horse.

When we were done with the ground poles, Mommy and I worked over a bounce line for a while. She was trying to get me to jump through it with a forward, even pace, but still come back to her and stop afterward.

Working through the bounce!

Working through the bounce!

I got the “going through it at an even, forward pace” part, but I couldn’t contain myself enough to stop immediately after she asked me to on the other side. So, we kept working over it until I got it right.

It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun! And I have to say, my butt muscles are pretty sore today!

As we were cooling down after our workout, I suddenly noticed that there was a bunch of farm equipment just outside the arena. When I took a good look at it, it was scary!!! So naturally, while Mommy was relaxed (with her feet out of her stirrups and taking a drink), I spooked. I took off at a gallop! Her drink spilled all over the place, and she reined me in. Then – because she’s Mommy – she made me open the gate, walk out of the arena and inspect every single scary thing out there!

Checking out the scary stuff!

Checking out the scary stuff!

We finished cooling out, and then I got a long, cold shower. It felt good since it was so hot out and I had worked so hard. icchyshower

I got to go out into my paddock after that to eat grass for the rest of the day.

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Mommy came back in the evening to wrap my leg and make sure I had a clean stall and plenty of hay, and my best friend, Rocky the Kitty, hung out with me for a while, too.

Chillin' with Rocky.

Chillin’ with Rocky the Kitty.

I got today off, but Mommy still showed up this morning to groom me and turn me out into my paddock. I spent the entire day eating grass, until the bugs started to attack me, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that the best way to let everyone know that I wanted to come in was, well… to gallop! So that’s what I did, and sure enough, it worked. Jenna brought me inside, and I was happy to chill beneath my fan and munch on hay until dinnertime.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work! I can’t wait to see what Mommy has in mind… I have a feeling we’ll be working on ground poles a lot more these days… Oh well, we have to start somewhere!

Catch y’all later!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work hard, earn the reward…

It’s been a week of hard workouts, and I’ve been doing my best, because I want to get the reward that I was promised.

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Of course, there have been times when I’ve gotten a bit silly, and I couldn’t help but misbehave…

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But I think Mommy understands, because she forgave me. She knows that I just have a hard time containing myself sometimes, especially when poles are involved! And yes, those were supposed to be ground poles…

We even took a long walk after our workout today; I was nervous, walking so far away from all of my friends, but I just paid attention to Mommy and acted as brave as I could.

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And you know, it was pretty nice, after all. It wasn’t even all that scary. Too bad we didn’t have time to stop and graze for a while.

I still get to go into my paddock during the days, though, and I love it. I’ve missed getting to eat grass all day, every day.

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Anyway, if all goes as planned, I’ll be receiving my reward tomorrow during our workout.

Do you have any guesses as to what it might be?

I’ll give you a hint: Mommy said she might just buy me marshmallows…

I bet you know. But if you don’t know, tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you!

Catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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