In Ozy's blog(below), I mention the wonderful work that is being done by organizations to repurpose and rehouse still useful horses, so that they might go to a new loving home, where they can get another chance at a useful career or happy retirement with a new, caring owner.

In the Saddlebred industry, the cause is being fought by wonderful, self-sacrificing people who donate their time, money and effort to track down and rehome ASB horses that would otherwise end up being purchased by kill buyers and sent to slaughter. The incredible effort and heartache that these wonderful people experience is tremendous and they do not have the financial support of the throroughbred industry and rely on networking and individual donations to save these horses. 

If you are interested in helping these wonderful horses, please be sure to contact Jennifer Watts Hegg at the American Saddlebred Legacy Foundation.  Follow them on Facebook and see the unending work made to rescue these animals.  They are also networking to save and repurpose Morgan horses.  

Jennifer found Ego for me at the end of last year---he was a nice Christmas present.  I was looking for a horse that would likely mature over 17 hands with decent gaits and sound.  Ego is 4 years and younger than I was looking for, but such a sweet horse who has settled into the barn beautifully.  Although his nose is a little put out now that Ozy has joined us, but I try to make sure all the horses receive an equal amount of attention.  

He looks very young in the face, but already has a very nicely formed neck and good conformation.  His forelock is very straight and quite long and it makes him look like one of the early sixties pop stars.  He is very sweet.  He is also very green, having done no work in hand or on the longe line.  So we are really starting from scratch.

Over the winter, we have taken it slowly, introducing him to the longe circle, but no tack yet.  We want him to become comfortable and familiar with the idea of staying out on the circle at a regular tempo and listening to the verbal commands for upward and downward transitions.  He quickly learned how to walk and trot to the left, but I don't think he had ever been led from the right and is reluctant to start out going to the right.  Once he gets going, he's quite good and will respond to the walk, trot and halt commands quite well.  I work with the training whip to get him to move laterally round his forehand.  He will soon get the idea and once he does, we can move to working in tack, starting with saddle and introducing the bit and bridle when he is ready.  Eventually, we will add the side reins, hooked up loosely, so it is only the weight of the rein he feels.  Then we can really start progressing.  Of course, it's going to be quite a while before he can start to go under saddle, which is why I needed to find another horse that was further along and would soon be ready to ride.  Enter Ozy!

OZYMANDIAS (OZY) COMES TO BURNHAM BEECHES (Will set up his own page next time)

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling miserable about the fact that my current horse in training (Wrigley), a 17.3 hh Oldenburg, son of Frohwind, is still not 100% following his pulling a front leg suspensory in September last year.

He has been iced twice a day, wears support boots during the day and Back on Track wraps at night. He is on MSM (does not tolerate bute or devil's claw very well) and has prescribed meds to help with inflammation. He is sound in straight lines and pretty good going to left with injury on outside front, but in other direction, still shows some lameness. It has improved, but still not right. His confirmation on that one ankle is not great and I don't know if he will ever come back totally sound. He was doing so well too! I needed to find another horse to ride and train.

I had become aware of some of the work that some great organizations are doing to repurpose horses who are no longer wanted by current owners. The thoroughbred industry is putting money into this rehab and repurpose of these perfectly serviceable horses (often retired racehorses) and organizations like New Vocations in Marysville, OH and others are doing a fantastic job of finding safe and appropriate new owners for the horses that come to them (both thoroughbreds and standardbreds).

I have had several warmbloods (Holsteiner, Dutch, Trakehner, Oldenburg) and love these breeds; they are athletic and tend to have good gaits and natural suspension, but can also be found at heights of 17 hands plus, which is what I prefer. I am tall and long waisted and just look better on a taller, large-boned horse. Since I don't have a lot of money to spend, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some OTTBs to see if I could find one that might suit me. I checked into the New Vocations website.

I was blown away with the quality of horses available and all for a reasonable adoption fee. There is a strict adoption approval process to be followed, but I filled out the application and was very quickly approved to adopt one of these wonderful animals. I had applied for a 17 plus hands, 5 years old, chestnut thoroughbred called Demander, who raced until March 2015. I was delighted to find out that I had been approved to adopt him. I arranged to pick him up the following week.

Of course, the day I was due to pick him up, we had high wind warnings and it was not safe to travel with a horse trailer, so I postponed it for one day. I made the trip down there and told Demander he was going home. We said goodbye to the wonderful people at New Vocations and he loaded on the trailer with only a minute of hesitation---Good Boy! Here we are loading up for the journey home.

Adopters follow strict procedures to make sure that the horse adjusts properly to his new home and this includes a 7 day acclimatization period, where the horse just gets turned out and gets used to the new environment and feeding arrangements. Work can start after that.

Demander (now called Ozy for Ozymandias, the sonnet by Shelley..."King of Kings...", etc.) is settling in well. He has a 10ft x 24ft stall that he can actually trot in, and does when it's time for turnout. 

He has now completed his week of acclimatization and we are starting on the conditioning phase. Although he has been back under saddle since November and walks, trots and canters without any problems, he is very green and does not know how to bend or move laterally. He is stiff to the left and needs work to help him bend evenly on both sides.  

We will be proceeding slowly, with ground work and conditioning to help build up his strength and start to stretch him. He will be ridden on a loose rein for now, with a lot of walk, to help him to relax and until I can get him more supple. He is also green on the longe line and so we will be working on staying out on the circle, and making transitions through the gaits, except the canter right now. He will be in full tack, but no side reins until further into the program.

We did the first time in tack today and he was very good. He will learn to respond to voice commands for upward and downward transitions and to halt square. He was a bit excited at the trot, but very quickly calmed down and was very relaxed at the walk. We did in-hand work with the whip, moving left and right and although new to him, he handled everything very well. He was much more willing to move to the right than left, which ties in with his current one-sidedness, but that will change. Stretching exercises for the neck show he is stiff on both sides, only reaching back to the saddle. That will improve over time. We will be working this way for a while.

I am delighted to have Ozy in my barn....he's eating well and enjoying getting to know everyone. Further updates will follow.