The Barrel Jump-a Bruno Story


Mickey jumping the infamous barrel jump. Set here at 3’6″.

We got these metal jump cups that attach to the side of barrels. A lot of our friends, actually a lot of my friends all my life have been barrel racers. I have owned and run a top barrel horse in my youth. My arena will always have some barrels in it. When I found these jump cups that make my barrels into jump standards, I had to have them.

A barrel is about three foot high. With the jump set on the top cup, with a regular pole, it is a solid 3’6″. With Mickey, we made it an oxer as well. Mickey was sailing over the jump, but he was an experienced jumper. Feather has not jumped the barrel jump before last night and not on the top setting.

We took Bruno out to work and I was armed with my camera not wanting to miss a shot of Bruno finally jumping a fence. We started the barrel jump as an X. It was about two and half feet tall. Honestly, he could walk over it. I saw him trot towards it, move into a canter, easily jump and come back to Lauren (as opposed to running off strong). For OTTB Bruno, with his racer’s soul, it was something good to learn. That he has stayed sound as our work-outs have increased in intensity and now over the jumps is great as well.

Lauren has never jumped Bruno over anything other than an X. I wanted to take the jump up to a vertical, which is really a horizontal pole across the width of the jump (don’t know why it is called a vertical but it is). Lauren said no. I set it up anyway. I will be first to admit his jump is not perfect, no nice even knees, he will hopefully continue to learn. The main point of the picture below and while I squealed with glee when I first saw it, is how Bruno makes this jump look like a toy. Ask any barrel racer, they will tell you they don’t mind racing around a barrel, but they sure would never consider jumping over one.


While this jump is not the full height or width of one Mickey is jumping above, it still was the first balloon we have floated out there to see if Bruno might have the makings of a jumper. Lauren has never competed in a division with fences over 3’6″. In this picture, Bruno’ s giant OTTB body, absolutely dwarfs the barrels. His back feet are still on the ground. His upper body is easily a foot over the top of the barrels. It was quite an ‘ah hah!’ moment for us. I quickly texted one of my friends to tell her the news. She told me she was excited to see where this Bruno story was going.

Each of these small steps, takes closer and closer to having a show horse. We are going to take it slow but it is sure a lot more fun watching him jump than watching him stand in his stall!

Pixie had a good solid ride. She seems to be maturing before our eyes. We got finished up with those two and Lauren saddled up Feather for workout. We don’t jump Feather much at home, preferring to save her legs for lessons and shows. But the barrel jump was calling to her. Again, not set up as high as Mickey jumped, Feather was her usual over-achiever self.


Feather did a pretty good job of making those barrels look small as well. Maybe, we got a couple of sterling youngsters (three if you count Pixie) gaining ground and showing promise at our farm today.

Thanks for riding along!

Another Saturday-a Bruno Story

Last Saturday, we spent the whole day waiting, working, trying and praying to find some new way to get Bruno moving soundly. We x- rayed, created impressions of his footfall, crafted casts and forged a new shoe.

It has been raining off and on since then. Maybe God’s little way of making Bruno have to stay in close quarters and let his hoof adjust to all the work we did on it. It was frustrating, but perhaps just what he needed.

Yesterday, we took off early to head to Houston to the dog show. My little VW was packed with two car seats with Kendyll and Jordyn, and Kona sitting (or standing) in the middle. We always enjoy going to the show,seeing all the dogs and I was excited this year to bring Kona to try out some basic agility they had set up. I got to visit with a lot of dog lovers and the girls had a good time.

We dropped Kendyll and Jo at their other grandparents. It was mid-afternoon by the time we were back.

We decided to let Kid and Bruno out in the nearly dry front pasture. Normally, they do not go out here as the fence isn’t as good, it has weeds, and some rocks, but Bruno needed to get out. We followed Dr. Criner’s advice and gave Bruno a shot of Ace. The idea was to slow him down a bit so he would not pound so hard on his hoof. We gave the shot and waited for it to take effect. It was also a humid, 95 degrees with full afternoon sun. I thought that might take a toll on him as well.

But, no! Bruno came blazing out of the gate like the elite thoroughbred he is. Showing astounding ability to turn, cut and slide to a stop (all of which we could have done without) it brought huge smiles to our faces to see him be able to move so well. I know there are many days ahead, and lots of ups and downs but today was a good day. And I will joyfully remember where we are today versus a week ago. Sounds like it is another big thank you to Dr. Criner and Roland for work well done.


Even months of stall rest, cannot keep this boy from having natural muscles in his butt.

Now, forgive me for my weedy pasture, the rain has kept us from mowing, but watch my boy trot and gallop.  It is not perfect, but we are making strides toward getting better.

Remind me of this day, when we take two steps back again as I know we will, but maybe, one day, Lauren will harness this horse’s natural athletic ability into something in the show ring.  I can’t wait!

Also, I have gone back and re-categorized all the Bruno Stories-under the clever name, A Bruno Story, so if you ever want to go visit his history in order you can click on the front page of the blog and read his stories in order.  What a time we have had!!

As always, thank you for riding along!  I love hearing from you all with your support, great suggestions, and just to know you care!

What now?-A Bruno Story

I wrote Monday about Bruno’s lameness. Today is Saturday, here is a short update of what happened this week:
* we started Bruno on bute (an anti-inflammatory drug)
* Tuesday, he was walking better but was still lame
* Wednesday Bruno was lying down, unable or unwilling to get up, so lame he could barely walk
* We started treating Bruno for a hoof abscess, soaking his bad hoof in Epsom salts to try to draw out the infection.

Bruno, no doubt a veteran of the hoof soak process, stood quietly.

* Thursday our local vet team got here to gently coax Bruno’s shoe off the infected foot. They did not want to damage any of the newly grown hoof. Bruno got a big injection of more anti-inflammatories.
* Friday after much discussion with both our vet Dr. Criner and our farrier, Roland, we determined we would shoot x-rays this morning.

Today started with radiographs of Bruno’s front hooves. He behaved well for the front feet but was not interested in having his back feet photographed. We will do that another day.

Setting up for the x-rays.

Later this afternoon, both the doctor and farrier returned. After reviewing the images, the doc wanted to see how Bruno was moving and how it affected his hoof. Dr. Criner needed him to move on the flat, unforgiving surface of concrete. She suggested using the highway (eh, no way!) and then the neighbor’s driveway. I got permission and the test was on. Dr. Criner ( because she is tougher than any of us) placed a chain in the ex-racehorse’s mouth, covered his hoof in duct tape and headed down the drive. The duct tape clearly showed that Bruno was striding in such a way that most of the impact was hitting on the damaged coffin bone, and the weak, outside of the hoof.

The next task was to find a way to support this hoof as time allowed it to get better. All of this was new to me. Based upon the x-rays, the hoof was trimmed. A new heart bar shoe was custom designed by Roland (Lauren thought we were cooking hot dogs, but we were making shoes). Then, casting material was used around the hoof to support the fragile hoof wall and allow the nails to have a place to rest other than the hoof.

Roland sculpting the cast material.

Next, was a custom fit pad to absorb the shock of the hoof as Bruno bounded down the arena walls. Finally, after re-shaping and molding, Bruno’s custom shoe was done.

The new heart bar shoe, with pad and cast.

The casted, padded new shoe-ready to go.

And finally, the jog for soundness. Off Lauren went, dwarfed by Bruno, moving beautifully, with just a hint of his old injury.

We still have several months of re-hab left. But the vet that diagnosed Bruno’s injury right in the first place, got him on the road to recovery with TAMU vets, appears to have made some good decisions for our giant OTTB Bruno. I am grateful for our new path forward, and grateful to Lynn and Roland for giving up their Saturday to get this horse pain free again.


Track stories-a Bruno Story

AP Indy, grand-sire of my Bruno

AP Indy, grand-sire of my Bruno

Bruno has been going out for six days now.  Yesterday morning in his romp through the arena he somehow caught his horse-shoe on his “good” front hoof and ripped it off.  Really, six days since taking him over 200 miles to get his shoes put on?  But I was glad we had found the shoe and that it wasn’t from his bad foot.

Still I knew that he had to have that shoe put back on now or we could not let him back out.  The shoes help support the hooves and with the healing taking place in his bad hoof, we did not want anything to stand in the way of his continued success.  My usual farrier comes from Houston and it is a long way to tack on one shoe.  I had another farrier that I really liked, and if I had not had a relationship for so long with Roland, he would do my horses.  I called Sean who is an ex-jockey and very involved in Polo.  He has done me favors many times and I was hoping this would be one more.

Sean pulled in late yesterday afternoon.  He had never seen Bruno.  Immediately, he asked-“where did you get this horse?  Is he from Fiddler’s Green barn in New York?”  and yes, Sean he is.  He knew Bruno’s trainer and owner from days on the track.  And he knew very well Bruno’s grand-sire AP Indy, from the Triple Crown winning Seattle Slew out of Weekend Surprise.  Sean had known the stallion well and ridden several of his progeny.  He had some great tales to tell us of the strength and endurance of the AP Indy line.  He gave Lauren tips for handling Bruno when it was time to get back on the big guy (ride him light, DO NOT take a hold of his mouth).  It was wonderful to share some thoroughbred history with a man who knew what this horse was made of and even better to hear him enter his stall, ready to shoe him, talking quietly to him, telling him about his days with “Indy”.

I looked up a picture of Indy which is seen above and set out today to take a picture to show why Sean stopped in his tracks when he saw the big horse yesterday.  So, I don’t have the fancy background and my horse is not as spit polished as Indy.  Actually, Lauren is gone today and I struggled just to get his OTTB halter on but I think it shows genetics in action.  I love these thoroughbreds and the stories behind their lives.  It makes me even more inspired to do the best I can for this horse who got left behind because of his bad foot.

Fiddler's Pilgrim, aka Bruno

Fiddler’s Pilgrim, aka Bruno

Look ma, one foot!

Bruno out in the second pasture, bucking with all his weight on his newly healed hoof!  "Look mom, one leg!"

Bruno out in the second pasture, bucking with all his weight on his newly healed hoof! “Look mom, one leg!”

Bruno got to go out first thing this morning into the second paddock where I would not have to worry about him hitting  the roof.  It was a dreary overcast day but nothing was standing in the way of this big gelding, green grass and freedom.  He dashed back and forth running with the pure joy of his thoroughbred heritage-the one that includes Seattle Slew and the big Secretariat.  Many, many races were made back to paddock fence with sliding stops that would have caused envy to a reining horse.  I caught the picture above as he bucked and ran.  I am sending it Dr. Marsh and Dr. Criner to show them this guy is placing all 1350 pounds of his body weight on his newly healed hoof-AND it is holding up fine.

To watch him trot, canter and gallop without a single off-step was a miracle time for me.  I remembered feeling so helpless/hopeless when it was determined he had to have surgery but to see him run today you would never know he had a problem, surgery or been out for months.

Okay, we are still a long way from a successful ride in the jumper ring-he has not had much training as a jumper because he was always having trouble with his foot.  But this horse has totally enveloped Lauren with love.  I had to remind her that this horse was not a pet and if he pushed her around, she had to bark back at him and re-gain his respect outside the stall.  And we will have to see if the hoof holds up now that he is running and pounding on it.  Lots of things to do before this is a total success story, but it a pretty awesome mid-point!


My shoulder is healing.  I am doing the daily exercises.  It hurts.  Sleep is always hard.  My other shoulder aches all the time now as well, doing the work of both.

Lauren and Feather have a horse show this weekend.  Pictures and updates to come!

My daughters, Ally and Amber, met in Orlando today.  It will be a chance to piggy-back off Amber’s nursing seminar with some time alone with for the sisters.  I keep thinking of my son-in-laws, in Denver and Houston, respectively, handling two children each without their wives.  Wish I had a little nanny cam to watch how things are going but I know they will both have it under control.

PuppyGirl (the Yorkie) and Kona were having some fun times on the couch the other night.  Talk about cute!

Face off!

Face off!