Less is More

I love to follow along with y’all’s blogs.  I see you out there, schooling 6th Level dressage, galloping across cross country courses and jumping things taller than my truck…  But prepare to seethe with jealousy because MY horse?

He’s turning an ear towards me.

I’ve been doing horse ownership the minimalist way — I go in the morning and turn them out, put hay in the pasture and do barn chores.  Then I leave for the whole day until I come back at night and bring them in, get them tucked into their stalls with more hay and a little grain/supplements, and then I’m gone.

Simon copes fairly well with this (though he would prefer to be in his stall 23.75 hours of the day).  Charlie though?  Is loving it.  It struck me that Charlie was acting like a soured, burned-out horse.  Even after digging into his past, I don’t really know what kind of life he had.  Did he go directly to the Amish after flunking out as a race horse?  Worst case scenario, they drove him for those 8 years and then let him starve half to death when he couldn’t hold up to the workload any more.  Then he got taken to auction and bounced around before landing in a soft place with me.

We completed a couple roundpen sessions before I became an absentee horse owner.  It was tough on him!  I asserted myself in a way he didn’t like by controlling his movement.  I did the Equine Body Language equivalent of bootcamp: relentlessly picking on him and then offering, “Hey, if you’ll trust me as your leader, we can take it easy from here on out.” He took me up on it, of course.  Anything to be rid of the pestering!

And then I let him chill out for a week or two.

I’ve been taking him out and occasionally lunging him — lightly.  The difference in him is astounding.  He keeps an ear turned on me at all times, despite the sound of Simon crying in the barn.  He’s so tuned in to my body language — I can get him to lengthen his stride by simply bringing my energy up, or shorten it by facing his shoulder instead of his hip.  He licks and chews.  Slight pressure on the lunge line now has a huge effect, like sending a wiggle to push him out into a wider circle.

I’m tremendously impressed, and I had to take a moment to check myself.  I had been sloppy with my body language, like “Why bother dialing it in if he’s not paying attention anyway?”  It’s like when you babysit your nieces/nephews and they get to the age where they repeat everything you say… you gotta clean up your act, STAT. haha

One hard and fast rule I keep for my training clients is that a workout/training session needs to give more than it takes.  People love to use exercise to punish themselves, and to feel totally annihilated afterwards.  It’s soooo detrimental in the long run!  A lot of times, less really is more.  Quality over quantity, etcetera etcetera.

I’m planning to guide Charlie’s training in the same way, but for now I’m just glad we’re speaking each other’s language a little better!

Friday Five: Prying into the Past

AKA “Internet Stalking My Own Horse”

I’ve been putting on my detective hat to cobble together pieces of Charlie’s past.  I did the same thing to Simon, though that was much, much easier — at the time, I had a subscription to the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitor’s Association’s database, iPeds, that showed his pedigree, breeder, and a limited show history.  I also had a subscription to The Walking Horse Report, which had an extensive show record.  I could see where he’d shown, in what class, and what place he got.  Then I could even look up the show photographer’s websites and hunt down pictures of him.

Charlie is significantly more challenging, since he crossed industries, from a race horse to an Amish horse.  The Amish don’t exactly have a big online presence…

Wild Wasabi Standardbred
“Fix ya face, Chuck!”

Standardbred racehorses are freezebranded, which helps tremendously with identifying who they are.  You can look up brands for free online at the US Trotting Association website, and get general information like pedigree, birth date, markings, etc, along with the current owner’s name.  I also had a bit of info from when the Standardbred Retirement Foundation posted him in need of adoption.

I’ve been able to use some of this info to find some nuggets of info!

1. Charlie’s Race Record

I knew from the SRF’s post that Charlie earned $12,427 in his racing career.  This is a pretty paltry amount, considering that Standardbreds often race into their teens.  Other horses needing adoption in the same group as Charlie had earned over $100,000 and some even over $200,000!  This gave me the hunch that he probably had a pretty short racing career.

I got an account on the US Trotting Association website and was able to pay for reports (at the grand total of $0.75 a pop #BigSpender), including Charlie’s racing record:

  • 2006 (2 year old) — 5 starts: 0 1st, 0 2nd, 0 3rd ($1,395 won)
  • 2007 (3 year old) — 17 starts: 2 1st, 1 2nd, 1 3rd ($10,047 won)
  • 2008 (4 year old) — 1 start: 0 1st, 0 2nd, 0 3rd ($669 won)
  • 2009 (5 year old) — 5 starts: 0 1st, 0 2nd, 0 3rd ($316)

So Charlie had a flash of success in his 3 year old year and didn’t place a single time other than that, though he was able to collect some prize money along the way!

His 4 year old year has me curious — why did he only start once?

2. He Won Something!

I was able to find mention of Charlie in a 2006 article that was entirely about another horse.

He won!  He won!  A qualifier, but that’s something!

Obviously, the author chose the wrong horse to highlight!  Actually, Lemon Drop, the REAL subject of the article, went on to win $148,505… so maybe they were right not to focus on Charles…

3. Last Recorded Owner

On the USTA’s free tattoo search, you can find the name of the last recorded owner.  Charlie was owned by someone named William Moore from Ontario, and the transfer was effective as of 2009.

A quick search for didn’t produce much for the name, except that he probably went by Bert Moore.  A search for that name brought up an article from 2016 about his son, titled “Moore Makes Lemonade out of Lemons.”  It contains a particularly interesting line:

Just about everybody in the business has dad’s number on their Rolodex.  When you don’t want your horse anymore, and can’t sell it, you call Bert Moore.

Hmmm… makes me wonder if I’ve got a lemonade-resistant lemon in my barn!

4. The Canadian Connection

Charlie did all of his racing in Canada, despite being born in Kentucky.  I found a 2006 stallion directory for the Ontario Sires Stakes, which is an incentive program to encourage people to breed, buy, and race in Ontario.

Charlie’s sire, Angus Hall, was not only a nominated sire, he seemed to be one of the big names in the trotters!

Ranking sires by their babies’ earnings, he was 2nd place Leading Sire in both the 2 year old colt and filly trot, and 1st place Leading Sire in both 3 year old colt and filly trot.

It looks like his stud fee for 2006 was $15,000!

Also included in the summary were sales results of 2005 yearlings.  A certain young Wild Wasabi was listed as selling for $9,000 in the Forest City sale.  This is fairly low for an Angus Hall yearling, according to these results.  Some sold upwards of $90,000, with one selling for $100,000!  There were many in the $30,000-70,000 range, and probably about a third of them sold for under $10,000.

5. He’s a True Middle Child

Charlie’s dam, China Lady, had 8 foals; one every year from 1998 to 2006.  Born in 2004, Charlie was near the middle/end of the pack.  Interestingly, only the 2003, 2004, and 2005 babies have race records, and they’re all sired by different sires.

  • 2003: Last Samurai (by Self Possessed) earned $2,064 and had a race record of 2.06.3 (I think this is their time for a mile).
  • 2004: Wild Wasabi (by Angus Hall) earned $12,427 and had a race record of 2:03.4.
  • 2005: Kimonover Here (by Striking Sahbra) earned $69,834 and had a race record of 2.00.3.

So of the 3 racing siblings, Charlie is right smack-dab in the middle in terms of speed and earnings.

Charlie last raced in Canada in 2009, and found himself at auction in Pennsylvania in 2017, where SRF (and I) were able to get to him.  I’m not sure how long it took him to get to the Amish after his racing career, but I’m guessing he’s been there for quite some time!

Let me know if you’ve ever gone all Internet Stalker and found any good info on your own horse!

Wordless Wednesday: Yep, It’s Still Winter

Charlie the Standardbred