Sunday, June 13, 2010

How Does One Become a Thoroughbred Person?

So, looking back on my previous blogs, it looks like I've started 90% of them with the word SO. This is the last one, if I have anything to say about it. If I slip, y'all are allowed fifty virtual lashings with a wet noodle.

Since I've started this blog, I have been absolutely OVERWHELMED by how much amazing writing there is on the interwebs about horses, dressage, OTTBs; I had NO idea, honestly. I've always been a slow learner, no doubt about that.

Anyway, it makes for great inspiration for blog topics-unless you guys want to hear more bitching about the weather, or maybe the bugs?? Yeah, I thought so.

I started riding at a hunter barn called Fox Brush Farm - A wonderful, non-snotty boarding/training facility, which emphasized safety over everything else. I started with weekly lessons, progressed to leasing horses and working there as much as I could, and then they helped me find Chami, best first horse ever.

Fox Brush had every breed of horse imaginable, though most of the lesson horses were Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, Paints or crosses thereof. Thoroughbreds? They were for the advanced riders ONLY, or they were training horses. I might lead them to and from their pastures, but none of the kids (I was there from ages 7 to 14) actually RODE them. I don't think that's so unusual either-a lot of people seem to start off their riding careers with similar experiences. Of course the Thoroughbreds were ridiculously beautiful, but they seemed so...HARD to me, with their athletic bodies and gorgeous heads that were usually perched on long, sinewy necks held high, high in the air. I had never been a rider brimming with confidence, so it was totally fine by me to keep riding the other horses, while leaving the "hard bodies" to people with more drive and experience while I admired them from afar.

Of course, when I (cough *my parents* cough) bought Chami when I was 14, she was technically an Appendix Quarter Horse (TB/QH cross). Let me tell you though, that mare sure looked and acted all QH. She was gorgeous to me, but she had that big 'ol QH butt and was an air fern-looking at food too long was not good for her waistline. Even at only 8 years old, she was a steady-eddy almost always, unless she saw a herd of cows (Serious cow-phobia. No horse is perfect). Anyway, I figured she was a fluke and got most of her QH mama and little to none of her TB daddy. Naturally, anytime she acted like a ninny I blamed it on the TB side:)

I didn't begin my voyage to being a "Thoroughbred Person" until I adopted Ebony a few years ago. Old stereotypes about TBs still danced in my head at that point. Granted, she was in her mid to late teens, and about as easy a keeper as you could find, but she was DEFINITELY a TB. Very, very sensitive and had to WORK for her respect. However, she didn't really have a serious spook in her, which was why I adopted her (well, the "free" price tag helped;). Again, I never was nor will I ever be brimming with unbridled confidence. She could balk, she could buck, she could be mad as hell at me...but man, when we finally figured each other out (I stopped forcing her to live in a stall half the day and do arena work ALL the time, and she figured out I wasn't going to tear her mouth off or beat her up for doing something bad, although she also couldn't get away with doing whatever she wanted-I think she had seen it all before me!), we had such great, great rides together. She was never overly-lovey, so any little gesture she offered me was pretty cool. She kept me thinking, always, when I was with her. After Eb, how could I go back to the stock horses? ;)

Enter Miles, who I'm obviously totally smitten with. After Eb's passing, I looked on DreamHorse and some other sites for horses of all breeds, but the sites I kept going back to (and the horses that inevitably caught my interest the most) were, you guessed it, Thoroughbreds. After reading Miles' New Vocations profile and watching his video, I couldn't think of any reason NOT to go see him. Also, at an adoption price of $400-come on, I'm still pretty sure I got away with highway robbery.

Of course, he was everything I wanted, and everything I didn't know I wanted. Now he is NOT perfect...I'm still a little ticked at him for dumping me back in March when he gave just enough of a spook to put me off balance, and then would not simply WHOA so I could right myself, but that's another blog! Mostly, he has become my best friend, who lets me know exactly where I stand. He's so, so excited to see me when I come out to the barn-when I get out of the car and he can see it's me-well, I'd really like to get it on video some day:) He can be lazy but will never be the kind of horse you have to nag or really get after to be forward. He listens to me on our rides and even if he doesn't understand something the first time, once he really "gets it", he gets it for good. Smarty Pants. He can get anxious but gives me the benefit of the doubt that I won't ask him to go somewhere or do something unsafe or that we can't handle together. He looks to me to keep him safe. He is mouthy and obnoxious. He's my boy:)

So am I a Thoroughbred person? I suppose I am. I still want my Andalusian one day! Also, I will never be super excited to ride a spooky, reactive horse-though one great thing I've learned is that OTTBs are often MUCH less spooky than other horses, because they have SEEN and LIVED through the kind of loud, high-stress environments that would cause a full-on meltdown in many other horses.

I think a lot of horse people would tell you a TB's heart can't be beat (har har), and usually they are talking about their courage as athletes. Of course they ARE athletic-and though as a lowly pleasure rider this has never been my #1 priority, I admit I love Miles' gorgeous muscle-butt, and his awesome, solid yet gracefully long neck. "Heart" is more than athleticism and the courage to tackle a cross-country course, though-it's also that joie de vivre! A love of living, and curiosity in all things-from your pasture mate to your handlers to that crazy girl who comes out and rides you and babbles at you and keeps kissing your forehead. Man, Miles has that in SPADES, and I think a lot of Thoroughbreds do too.

Yeah, count me in. I'm a Thoroughbred person.

I wish I could capture a picture that does him justice one day...the big pic at the top of this blog is the closest I've got, and I didn't take it! Still, this face is what gets me, every time I see it.

What about you? Is there a breed that you naturally gravitate to, or are you more individual-horse specific? If you have a favorite breed, what about that breed "gets" to you, or do you love most? I love hearing what other people's passions are, and why!


  1. I defintely think you're a TB person, too. Just based on your description of them and how in awe of them you were as a youngster. Not only that, but it sounds like you've owned two wonderful TBs to keep you hooked :).

    As for me, I think it's obvious that I like my Morgans, BUT I also have a soft spot for QH's. I think maybe as I get older, I'm starting to see wonderful things in all breeds. I wouldn't mind having one of each :-).

  2. I agree with JJ, I do love all breeds. That being said, I think the TB's are at the top of my list.
    Funny, where I grew up-I started riding a draft cross "Tiny" and then eventually graduated to many, many OTTB's. When you started jumping, that was the horse you learned on. I think it made my seat a little better b/c you had to react quick. It also did a number on my nerves b/c all my bad accidents or injuries were involved with an OTTB, lol!!!
    Miles is a beaut for sure! It's hard to get a good pic b/c they dont stand STILL!!!! LOL!!

  3. Thanks for your thoughts JJ and Kristen!
    JJ, I'm actually really intrigued by Morgans, but I will be honest I don't think I've ever ridden or been around them, ever (though I think one of my favorite school horses back in the day was half Morgan, maybe). I love how adorable and compact they are though! The pics you have on your blog of Morgans are of course beautiful!
    Kristen, that's one of the reasons I will always toot the horn of my original barn Fox Brush. Not that I didn't fall of and have accidents on their horses, but they really did emphasize safety above EVERYTHING else...I don't think I was I bad rider when I was learning, but a couple really scary experiences might have put me off horses for good...maybe that's why they kept the TBs away from me, lol:) If and when I ever have a child, and they want to learn how to ride, I would send them there in a heartbeat:) It's SOOO important to have that foundation! I don't think I could have ridden Ebony or ride Miles now without them-maybe I didn't learn the finer points of dressage or training at Fox Brush, but they never pushed a rider beyond what they were ready for. There was plenty of time for me to push myself beyond what I was ready for after I left:)