A fine time-

Pink skies of dawn coloring the barn.

Pink skies of dawn coloring the barn.

My mother’s bed had collapsed at her place and despite several attempts to fix it, we finally declared it unfit for her and decided to give it to Lauren.  Actually, I have ordered a new frame for my mom’s bed and hopefully have fixed the one Lauren will have.  It just made sense to paint Lauren’ s room as long as we had to move her bed to my room.  It was a little like musical beds.  What ever bed ends up in your room is what you sleep on.

We have lived here almost seven years.  Lauren is a little bit of a pack rat, plus her room is small and storage limited.  What a mess!  But it is repainted and totally clean now so that was real bonus.

Lauren has a million horse show ribbons or so it seems.  We kept her top ribbons and boxed the rest.  From Pinterest she got a good idea as to how to display them.


This morning, as the pink skies welcomed us to the new day, we took Feather for a lesson with Dev.  After almost 18 months of baby steps, Lauren was a little out of her comfort zone as she faced some bigger jumps.  She had a little trouble getting all the details right, too fast, too slow, or not straight enough.

After a few jumps, Dev proclaimed, “when you don’t think, you do great!”  I am sure this related to her tendency to over think her riding, but it was still pretty funny.

We went by mom’s before lunch to find her dressed once again in the pretty floral blouse I had gotten her for the luau.  I guess that was a hit!

This afternoon, found me riding Mickey and Lauren up on Bruno.  It took a good ten minutes before Bruno settled in to work.  But when he did, he looked vibrant and strong.


This horse’s stride is huge!  The fence poles are spaced ten feet apart.  Without pushing him, he covering at least 15 feet in one stride.  Wow, that should cover some ground once we get him in the jumper ring.  I like seeing Lauren quiet in the saddle, letting the big man stretch out and find his own pace.  We have set up two small jumps for Bruno to go over to continue his education over fences.  Today went better than the last time.  He is alert and waiting for the little pole.

Attentive and ready!

Attentive and ready!

Bruno had quite a long workout today and seems to be holding up well to the rigorous training.  He has kept his casted shoe on a little over four weeks which is a new record!  I keep watching him for any signs of lameness, but he is moving fluidly and strong.

I have an infection in my molar and scheduled for a root canal tomorrow.  It hurts pretty badly but I cannot say I am looking forward to the procedure.  It clearly will not be a fine time.

As always, thanks for riding along and keep us in your prayers.

Lula getting a lift back to the barn.  Kona said he wanted to ride, too!

Lula getting a lift back to the barn. Kona said he wanted to ride, too!

Continuing Education-A Bruno Story

Mr. Kid patiently observing his student, Bruno.

Mr. Kid patiently observing his student, Bruno.

When we got home from the horse show yesterday it was only about noon, but Lauren and I (and probably Feather) were wiped out.  Horse shows involve a lot of work, long hours, painstaking patience and manual labor.  And I am just talking about my part which isn’t even on the horse.  From start of show to close, it is a kind of nervous, frenetic activity.  I love the shows but am always glad to pack up and go home.

I started threatening Lauren in the truck while we were pulling the trailer home.  “You know, Bruno hasn’t been ridden since Thursday.”  It was hot, humid and mid-day.  Lauren had been riding hard for three days.  Riding Bruno was no where on the “what I want to do next” list.  But I also knew that come evening Lauren would want to go visit her boyfriend and Bruno would have gone another day without work.

We try to work all our horses (except Kid) at least three times a week.  Feather and Bruno get four trips.  Bruno was long overdue.  Dr. Criner was due Monday and if we didn’t want a crazy Bruno meeting her at the gate he needed to be worked.  The sky was overcast and threatening.  I think Lauren was praying it would rain and she would get a reprieve from riding but the rain held off.

About 3:00 pm we headed out to the barn.  She got Bruno cleaned up and ready to ride.  I got to clean the stalls and the barn while she got started.  I had to think it through, hum, riding Bruno and falling off or cleaning the stalls in the stifling humidity.  I went with the stalls.

Mr. Kid had followed Bruno out to the arena (of, course) so he was observing Lauren’s riding in my absence.  He said they were doing okay but that Bruno was still having trouble with his left lead.  Kid said he could still pull both leads on command at age 31 and had no idea why the big, young thoroughbred was having so much trouble.  “Youth, these days,  Mr. Kid, not up to your standards!”.

This is a stock picture-NOT BRUNO.  I moved three of the poles together to create one yard wide obstacle.

This is a stock picture-NOT BRUNO. I moved three of the poles together to create one yard wide obstacle.

We had set some caveletti poles for Jordyn and Snow to work on.  I moved them up so they were each 12 inches high and grouped three together (about 36 inches across). I asked Lauren to trot to them and see if Bruno would catch the correct lead over the jump.  He did!  It worked perfectly except for the first three times when Bruno thought the better plan was to go around the funny white poles stacked on the ground.  Or the next time when he thought he would just charge straight through the poles.  All good ideas but not what Lauren wanted.  Finally, he was consistently catching his left lead each time over poles. But we always have to take it a step further.

So, we reversed him and headed him over the poles moving to the right.  Bruno’s response was the same. First, avoid the poles, then scatter the poles, but whatever you do-do not jump the poles.  It is at times like this when you have heard the stories of the OTTBs that just jumped first time out perfectly, that make me wonder if we will ever get in the show ring with this horse.  He is definitely not what I would call a natural!

It was a good exercise in that there were no jump standards to direct Bruno through, just the poles setting a foot off the ground.  Lauren had to concentrate and focus to get the big horse to the spot she needed him to be in.  I would yell, “Turn him, use half the arena!”.  I would hear, “I am, he is just not turning!”  He is not unlike a freight train that once he is set on a path, it is a little difficult to change his course.

I did remind her that except for the last few weeks, he essentially had been off work for almost a year.  He will have to learn to accept her leg, for him to learn to feel her shift in weight, the subtle pressure on the reins and what it all means.

I think the best part of the day was just how we laughed.  This big, ol’steamroller of a horse was just moving down the arena.  Sometimes he was perfect.  Other times he just totally disregarded the silly white poles and sent them flying in all directions.

I challenged Lauren that I want this horse (who has been pretty much sound for at least a month now-I am knocking on wood here) to be in the show arena doing something before the end of the year.  Sometimes you just have to put your dreams out there and then make them happen.

The next weeks and months should be telling for our Bruno.  Absolutely nothing I saw yesterday would make you bet that this horse will ever win anything in the jumper arena.  But this horse has had a way of surprising us so hang on for the ride.  It may be a bit bumpy for a while. If we can channel all the energy and spirit Bruno has to offer into a responsive horse, we will be unstoppable. Today we are still picking up scattered poles!

Ready for Prime Time-A Bruno Story

Lauren is all smiles as she rides Bruno at Dev's today.

Lauren is all smiles as she rides Bruno at Dev’s today.

No story about OTTB Bruno can start without a little history. Almost a year ago, our trainer Dev had a lame horse with soundness issues that he thought we could re-hab and make into a great jumper. We took Bruno home. He had surgery over eight months ago to cure an infection in his hoof. We got way more than we bargained for in terms of care, cost and endless days of stall rest. But we learned an infinite amount about patience, love and hope as well.

Today we were finally ready to take the over 17.2 hand, almost 1600 pound thoroughbred back to Dev for his very first lesson as a sound horse. We were all a little nervous as we pulled out before dawn trying to beat some late summer Texas heat. Bruno was already covered in sweat as he stepped from the trailer. Dev’s mom, a rider, judge and horsewoman, looked at Bruno and asked, had he grown? I don’t think he is any taller but he has lost that coltish look and replaced it with a mature, muscled physique.

For Bruno to succeed at being a show horse, a jumper, he has to do more than be sound and look good. Today we were going to find out what our trainer thought of Bru, how he did with new places and hopefully how he jumped. Lauren has had problems with the left lead canter. Race horses run to the left. The left front hoof is the bad one. I suspect Bruno remembers running on that foot and pain. It is going to take some time for Bruno to understand his hoof does not hurt anymore. Dev climbed up in the saddle to see if he could make some progress where Lauren could not.

Dev gets the canter.

Dev gets the canter.

Dev had nothing but praise for the big horse. He liked how soft he was, he liked how his strides just ate up the lines to the jumps and I think he was pleased to see the promise in Lauren and gentle horse. It wasn’t all roses as Bruno shied away from the dogs (if they had been poodles he would have been fine) and went sideways instead of forward a couple of times but overall he was great.

When it came time for the first jump, we all held our breath but Bruno sailed over like a pro. He doesn’t have all the style of Feather but makes up for it on course by being soft and adjustable. It was a wonderful day, and one I wasn’t sure would ever come to pass even a month ago.

A couple old friends showed up to ride, Katy and Hennah with their moms, Vernie and Nargis. It made me grateful for this trainer, these friends and this special horse who has taught Lauren and I so much.

After the trailer ride home, Bruno was spotted out with Mickey and Feather at the fence line. I bet Bruno was telling them how he had jumped the zebra line of jumps like a pro. Both Mickey and Feather have jumped that same line higher and faster as they no doubt let him know. But I think Bruno knew something pretty special had happened today. Hopefully, one day his jumps will surpass theirs. Today was a pretty good start!