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 ;-)