Saturday, May 23, 2015

Red is 14!

Today is Red's birthday.  We've come a long way together in the four years he's been mine, and I've been his.  He came to me as a confused, reactive, worried, very dominant horse who needed me to be a strong leader while not coercing or forcing him - he's a horse who won't accept that sort of thing - he has to trust and accept to work with you.  If he trusts and accepts you, he'll do anything for you.

I got him in the spring of 2011 knowing that he would be a major project, but also being sure that he was a very sweet and willing horse who really liked people and who had the build and movement to be truly athletic - he has a beautiful head and expression, but his real beauty lies in his exceptionally fine conformation and his deep, fiery willingness to perform.

He had EPM in the fall of 2011, but made a full recovery.

He spent 90 days in the spring of 2012 with my trainer Heather Burke in Wisconsin - it took that long for her to work with him and me to peel back his automatic reaction to do a huge brace, and even bolt, when confronted with something new or that overloaded his system. He's had a name change - from Drifter to Red - in acknowledgement of his personality "change".

He strained his Achilles tendon and tore a muscle in his butt in 2012 - it took a long time for him to recover from that.

And then in 2014 he had a splint bone fracture - from a kick injury - and had to have surgery and the long recovery after that.  And then he injured the other hind ankle . . . with more time to recover.

We've been working together, day in and day out, to build our relationship and our ability to work together from feel, even during the periods when his ridden activities were limited due to injuries.

He's still a horse who's instantly distracted by everything, but who now comes back to me just as quickly without losing his awareness of his surroundings.

Today was a great example.  We rode in the outdoor arena - several hundred yards from the barn, all alone.  He's only been out there once this year quite a while ago.  A lot was going on, a horse being led by on the way to another field to lunge, other horses riding around in the pasture adjacent, and he did look and was momentarily distracted by what he say, but he never stopped listening to me and did everything I asked just about perfectly, with great enthusiasm, softness and grace.  Just plain spectacular - he's a real blast to ride, since he's so sensitive and instantly responsive, but requires everything I've got in terms of both attention and soft feel.

So, here are some photos that show how beautiful and alert he is:

Happy birthday to a very special horse!


  1. Happy Birthday Red! You're a special guy.

  2. Happy birthday beautiful Red! Hope you get through this year without any health problems and continue to delight the heart of Kate.

  3. Happy birthday Red! :) My Red turns 13 on the 30th. Those Red may babies! ♥

  4. He is handsome and I love the expression in his eye. Happy Birthday, Red!

  5. Happy Birthday, Red. You are one special and beautiful boy.

  6. Happy birthday to the handsome Red. It's amazing to me how long he has been with you already!

  7. Happy Birthday, Red! I can't believe it's been four years already (we must be having a LOT of fun ;o)

  8. Happy Birthday Red! You are one beautiful hunk!!!!


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