Meet O'Grady!

O'Grady is the latest addition to our little herd here at Glenshee!

I received and e-mail from a friend who recently hooked us up with our arabian rescues saying that there was a very nice ex-showjumper looking for a nice home as a dressage horse.

Well, I've never been one to pass up the chance to give a nice horse a good home, so I agreed to go look at him...

And it was love at first sight!

Grady, a 18hh, 14-15(ish) yr old grey sport horse gelding, was bred in Ireland and worked there for a while as an eventer. He was then imported to Florida where he was intended to be a showjumper, but apparently he developed an intense dislike for jumping while there. He's a very willing, enthusiastic horse, but something about jumping just didn't sit well with him. His last owner bought him for a jumper and had him shipped up to NYS without knowing this history and, though she did her best with him and took very good care of him, it seems his mind has been made up and he doesn't ever want to jump again. The details are foggy, but I am told he panics at the sight of a jump and also cannot be ridden with a whip... so, putting 2 + 2 together, I'm guessing there were some traumatic experiences along the way and jumping just isn't his thing anymore.... I've heard this story before; so many horses are ruined by bad training and/or management and eventually lose their confidence for jumping.

But this is fine with me because he's also trained to 2nd level in dressage and is very happy and willing to hack out and do pretty much anything that doesn't involve jumping. And I'm happy to take it slow with him. His last owner loved him but realized it would be unfair to expect to make him a jumper after whatever he had been through; but she was not interested in doing dressage and so did the best thing she could for him - she found him a home where someone would love him just as he is! Too few people in the horse world would have made that kind of decision in the best interests of the horse, and Grady was very lucky to have such a considerate, caring owner.

He does come with some minor issues. For one, he has terrible feet. His hooves are weak, they crack and bruise easily and he has white line disease. But this, I am confident, we can help with nutrition and proactive hoof care. And we have a great farrier, so I'm actually excited to see what we can do to help improve his feet. I also wonder whether his jumping issues may have stemmed from being constantly footsore when landing over fences....

Like so many big horses, he also has shivers, though it seems it only affects him when he's nervous. He also has what appears to be some muscle wasting and weakness, which makes me suspect something like mild PSSM/EPSM, a condition that often goes along with shivers in big horses, or possibly mild EMND, so I think, again, with the right feed/supplement program and a nice, relaxed environment, we will be able to help that as well.

And, of course, he has been more or less retired for the last year and a half at least, so he's not very fit. But I'm actually thankful for that, as I now have a chance to bring him up slowly and develop him correctly. To ride he has the feeling of a horse who is used to being forced into an artificial frame and held together by the rider, which is very typical of both eventers and jumpers. He's not a strong horse in the bridle, but he has a habit of bracing, and is used to being ridden in a broken pelham or kimberwicke, more to attempt to contain his large frame than to finesse his mouth and poll for proper flexion. So we have out work cut out for us. At the moment I'm just riding him in a hollow mouth eggbutt on a long rein and asking for a gentle lateral flexion. I know the rest will fall into place over time with a little patience. And for his part, Grady is being a perfect gentleman to ride, even though he probably has no idea what I'm trying to do!

As for his personality, well, he's incredibly sweet and a big goof :-) He's got big squishy lips and long ears and he loves attention! He also is the sort of character who likes to sneak a bite of hay out of the feed cart while you're not looking.... And when you're riding him, if you stand talking to someone for too long he'll turn around to look at you as if to say, "Um, this is boring... can we get back to work?"

He's also sort of passive in the paddock and all doesn't seem to know what to do with our gregarious herd! Donnie and Sami in particular love to play with him and Dusty, our palomino mare, is IN LOVE with him! So he's got quite the fan club here to make him feel welcome and we know he'll fit in just fine around here.

Anyway, I just thought I'd introduce our new guy because I'll probably be posting more in the future as our training (hopefully) progresses ;-)



  1. Congratulations! He looks like a big sweetie. It's so sad to see a horse with such potential who was likely ruined by bad training - kudos to his prior owner for finding him an appropriate home. Once he figures out that he doesn't have to brace anymore, I expect he'll come around quickly. Have fun with him, and can't wait to hear more!

  2. Congratulations on O'Grady! I know you can sort out his issues (both medical and training) and help him to feel better. He's a big sweetheart and I'm sure you and he are going to make a great team. What a handsome boy he is, no wonder Dusty is 'IN LOVE'.Good luck!

  3. Lovely horse.
    Beautiful head and eyes.
    And what an exciting project!
    I hope you'll keep us updated on the blog.

  4. What a looker! He seems like a great horse and he is lucky to find a great home with you! And if he was trained though 2nd level at one time it is all there and as you know will come out with love and kindness. I am so excited for you and 18 hands!!! I hope you are tall!

  5. What a handsome hunk!! :) And HUGE! He may not even know it yet, although I kinda think he does, but he has landed in the perfect home to get all his issues managed in a kind, loving, and informed way.

    Looking forward to reading more about his progression with you.

    I am betting you're right about the jumping and the sore feet - imagine all that weight coming down on even the smallest amount of soreness. It will be interesting to see what happens when his feet get strong and healthy.

  6. kate - thanks! he is a big sweetie. unfortunately, it seems those are always the horses that are taken advantage of... they are so easy to ruin! but i think we're going to have a lot of fun together!

    GHM - :-) dusty has good taste, doesn't she?

    horseofcourse - thanks! he does have a kind eye, doesn't he? i think that's what drew me to him in the first place :-)

    onthebit - i'm excited to see what kind of training is in there too! i have to remind myself to be patient ;-) and yes, he's huge! he was advertised as 17.1, but i think he's much bigger... luckily i'm a giant - i'm 5'10 and on the muscular side (not to mention the too-much-time-off blubber :-\ ) so i don't feel like i really fit on anything under 17hh!

    billie - yeah, i was surprised by how big he actually is. i thought nate was huge (17.1, 1550+lbs, 86" blanket) but, when they stand side-by side, grady is not only taller at the wither but much longer! i had to use my biggest bridle on him AND order a pair of 72' extra long reins! he's a lot of horse, but so gentle and well-mannered.

    i have to think his feet were the issue too. toward the end of his career, mellon started to have the same reaction to jumping. he was never an easy horse, so at first we thought he was just testing, but when i pushed him a bit more, i knew something was wrong - he just wasn't himself. turned out he had the very beginnings of navicular and we decided to immediately retire him and try to prevent it progressing (which it has not - it's actually reversed! there's no sign of it now, much to my relief.) we wanted him to enjoy a long, happy life free of pain... and so far that's just what he's doing.

    luckily grady's x-rays showed no signs of anything like that, so i am hoping his foot issues are fixable. he doesn't seem to be in any pain now the way he's stomping around the paddock! last night i actually saw him rear while playing with blue (they are teaching him all kinds of good tricks :-\ ) he landed with a huge thud and trotted off beautifully, so he can't be hurting too much at the moment!

  7. Great find! 18!! Sounds like some simple changes to health and training and you have a diamond in the rough. Can't wait to hear how he progresses.

  8. photogchic - thanks! sometimes i feel like one of those people who likes to restore old cars or fix up old houses ;-) i love working horses that need a little help and seeing them blossom... hopefully we can make a difference for him :-)

  9. He looks lovely but I wouldn't want to get on and off at difficult gates!!

  10. jc - thanks! mounting him does present its challenges! i'm hoping i never have to try it from the ground :-\

  11. Oh is he ever handsome!

  12. He reminds me of horses in old books about hunter-jumpers. Very classic, and gorgeous.

  13. He's such a lucky guy! I'm sure that Mr. O'Grady thinks he's gone to heaven. He has a gentle look in his eyes and is certainly gorgeous. Have fun - we'll look forward to hearing your progress with him!

  14. O'Grady is gorgeous -- he reminds me of my Irish Sport Horse. Perhaps he is one as well (an Irish Draught/TB cross, also known as an "Irish Hunter")???

  15. I don't know much about horses but he looks like a gentle, beautiful old soul. I hope he's healthy and making progress with your group.


I enjoy reading all your comments and welcome discussion and debate. I do my best to answer most comments in a timely manner, but this may not always be possible. I will publish all comments providing they are relevant to the subject.

Thank you for reading. We look forward to hearing from you.

Copyright © J.M. Elliott 2008-2018. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.