Slow & Steady Training Begins

The theme of Oso’s training this week was slow, steady and methodical progress. I am excited to say it culminated in our best ride yet today!

With the nice weather, we were able to work consistently in the bigger dressage court all week. I find that some young thoroughbreds really appreciate an older, calm ‘buddy’ to demonstrate that ‘being a riding horse’ is easy and low stress. With this in mind, on our first few rides of the week, we were joined in the arena by a well trained, quiet companion horse that I knew would be calm under any circumstances. Being in the arena with other horses is also good practice for the show arena. Oso was very calm for our 15 minute walk warm up, after which we did a few trot long sides of the arena. At this point, I think he must have been thinking that he was warmed up and it was time to go to work (go for a nice breeze or gallop!). The next few laps contained some prancing and general excited behavior! I reassured Oso with my voice and a few pats, and asked his to accept my inside leg to return to the rail of the arena, and come back to the walk. He is such a smart boy, with each ride this week, the length of time where he was strong and excited after our trot work shortened.

Each ride, after he relaxed and continued to walk, I would go for another lap or two and hop off and call it a day. Today, we rode all alone in the dressage court, did circles, diagonals and changes of bend in the walk, and trotted both directions. Oso stayed quiet and relaxed the whole time! We are going to be tackling long lining in the next few days–a great way to teach a young horse to accept the contact and learn to the top line. Stayed tuned for our next update!

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Feeding the Off the Track Thoroughbred

image1Browsing classified ads for horses coming off the track, it is hard not to be dazzled by the sheer beauty of the horses in the photos. In each picture, the horses have gleaming coats, rippling muscles, and the focused look of an athlete. However, it is important to note that as a horse adjusts to life away from the track, their metabolism, energy level, appetite and musculature will change as well. Some horses may need a high fat diet to gain weight coming off the track. For others, the priority will be a high forage diet with minimal grain as their metabolism adjusts. Bluntly put, that beautiful horse you saw in the classified ad may end up with a dull coat and little muscle tone as they adjust!

Since Oso has already been through the ‘let down’ period, and developed good weight and muscle tone at the wonderful Eclipse Equine Sports Therapy Center, my main concern has been maintaining his weight and preparing him to be able to handle a heavier work load (as we start to ramp up our training). Currently, Oso has plenty of high quality hay (a blend of alfalfa and grass) twice a day, and a graining of a pound to a pound and a half of organic timothy pellets with his new supplements Electro Balance by Enviro Equine and Wild Gold Camelina Oil. Electro Balance provides the nutrients necessary to support Oso’s training, and Wild Gold is an excellent source of fat and anti-inflammatory Omega 3s. Though Oso has a primarily calm and collected personality (with a few exciting moments thrown in this week when a horse started bucking outside the round pen while we were riding!), I generally try to go easy on the high sugar grain with any young thoroughbred.

On the training front, Oso got front shoes Monday! He was a total gentleman for the shoer, quiet and well behaved. We have continued to put more short, easy, and successful rides under our belt. I find starting with slow and easy rides with a young horse builds their confidence. Oso is learning to accept my leg in the walk, and understand a soft rein contact. I am looking forward to ramping up our training this week!

Oso says, it’s dinner time!

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Getting to know Oso

Oso's learning to be a grown-up horse

Oso’s learning to be a grown-up horse

So, you have a young, beautiful thoroughbred right off the track, what next? Do they know how to tie, lead, stand to be groomed and tacked, and behave respectfully in a stall? Do you try to ride the first day at the barn? Do they know how to enjoy turnout without injuring themselves? As with any question about horse training, the answer depends on the individual horse!

Often, young horses off the track have had only the education necessary to get them from their stall to the track to train or race. They must learn many of the skills we take for granted in trained horses–leading quietly, standing at the mounting block, and tolerating that stiff brush! I spend the first few days, weeks, or months (depending on the horse) with a new OTTB getting a sense of their temperament, what they know already, and figuring out the best way to start their training.

Oso and I have spent the last week or so getting to know each other. We have explored the ranch together, with him in a halter and me on foot. I have groomed him in his stall, and in the crossties. We have practiced being attentive and respectful on the lead and walking under saddle. I have started introducing the idea of the training process–‘pressure’ (a request) and a ‘reward’ (release of pressure or a cookie or a pat) when he gives a correct response. He really likes this idea!

Hopefully I am not getting ahead of myself, as I have concluded that we are off to a great start! Oso is kind, intelligent and tries very hard to figure out what is happening next. He loves attention, and stands patiently in his stall to be groomed. He is a gentleman to lead, stops, backs up and yields his haunches easily. Currently, our rides are consisting of lots of walking and changing direction to build fitness and suppleness (and quite a few pats and cookies at the end!). I am looking forward to our next steps together!

Sometimes, the horse chooses you…

Sig-Oso

Oso Smart and Sigourney’s second day under saddle

Sometimes, the horse chooses you…

Just yesterday, I was asked to point out why I thought one young OTTB would be a better competition prospect than another. Confirmation, bloodlines, race history, and temperament can all play a role in choosing a horse off the track with the ability to be successful in a second career. In a completely objective world, only these things would matter. But, sometimes it’s the look in the horse’s eye as you meet them, that special feeling you get when they give you that first nuzzle or whiskery kiss that makes the decision for you…

I met Oso for the first time in a shaded barn aisle at Eclipse Equine Sports Therapy Center in Paso Robles. I walked down the aisle, searching for his name on the stall door, excited to see him for the first time. I found his stall, and he looked at me and came to say hello. Now, I can try to say it was the rhythm and fluidity in his walk down the barn aisle, or the suspension in his trot as he jogged down the driveway that made me conclude he would be an excellent prospect for eventing or dressage. But in truth, it was the friendliness in his gaze, and the gentle way he reached his nose out to nuzzle my hand that told me Oso was a special horse.

Time will tell if he will be a future dressage or eventing star (I think he has all the tools to be!). For now, I’m going to savor our first few rides, and enjoy seeing his lovely face over the stall door every morning.

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Neigh Savers’ Horse to compete in Retired Racehorse Project’s 100K makeover

Oso SmartOso Smart begins his journey to Kentucky

We are pleased to announce that our professional trainer, Sigourney Jellins of SLJ Eventing applied for and was selected to participate in the Retired Racehorse Project’s 100K makeover competition to be held in Lexington, Kentucky October 2016.

As her horse Sigourney chose Oso Smart, a beautiful 2011 dark bay gelding by the great sire and two time Horse of the Year Curlin.  Oso was just coming off a lengthy rehab with us for a bow tendon injury.  He last raced in February 2015. Oso came to Neigh Saver’s through the CARMA (California Retirement Management Account) Placement Program. The program helps transition horses, typically ones with injuries from racing to retraining or retirement programs.

We are very excited for Sigourney and equally excited for Oso who is being offered a tremendous training opportunity.  Sigourney was chosen for both dressage and eventing so we will see what discipline Oso will eventually compete in.

Oso has no sponsors and we would appreciate donations towards his professional training costs, board, farrier, medical, shavings and supplements.  We also need to raise money to send him to Kentucky and then back to California.  After his competition he will be offered for adoption through our program.  Any sponsors to Oso’s training and other supportive costs will have first right of refusal if interested in adopting.  Oso is a beautifully built very athletic horse with lots of Irish sports horse in his pedigree.  He is a kind and willing partner as well.  In other words, even without the exceptional training is now getting, he is a real find.

We are thrilled that Neigh Savers will be participating in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and wish both Sigourney and Oso great success. Oso Smart will be available for adoption after he participates in the Retired Racehorse Project’s 100K makeover competition to be held in Lexington, Kentucky October 2016.

The Jockey Club: Microchips Mandated with Foal Registration

The Jockey Club announced today that as of 2017 they are mandating that foals be microchipped when they are registered:

Microchips are being introduced as part of the registration process for Thoroughbreds. Microchipping is voluntary and free for foals of 2016 and later. An implanted microchip will be required for the registration of foals in 2017.

For foals of 2016, microchips may be requested on the Live Foal Report and will be mailed with the Registration Application and DNA kit. The microchips that will be distributed are the “Slim Microchip T-SL” model manufactured by DATAMARS.

Microchips should be implanted by an equine veterinarian or under the supervision of a veterinarian before or at the same time the DNA hair sample is collected, markings are recorded, and photos are taken. The horse identifier should scan the microchip and record the number along with the markings when identifying the horse.

Oftentimes, it is very difficult or nearly impossible to identify an untattooed Thoroughbred. As of 2017, all foals will be microchipped. This will simplify the identification process.

At Neigh Savers, we are thrilled with this recent change.

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8 Horses Saved!

November 2015 Auction Horses

Meet the 8 lives YOU HELPED SAVE!!!!

Because of you and your ongoing support of our program, 8 horses were saved from November Mike’s Auction. The first week after auction is busy. Intake, evaluations, quarantine, veterinary care, farrier care, and updating the website. The horses are our first priority, but then we want to keep you, our supporters updated on the status of each of the horses. It really does take a bit of time to evaluate everyone.

So, here it is! Introducing November 2015 Auction Horses:

Royal Rhythm (Queenie): Hip 136, Very sweet. She is tired, worn out. It is clear that she sustained a slab fracture at some point in her career as her RF knee is permanently altered. Her feet are long and misshapen. She has a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 3+.

Bobby, formerly known as Hip # 136, was rescued from November 2015 Mike’s Auction. This sweet and petite boy was ridden through the auction ring. He appeared quite broke. He has a BCS of 5, teeth had sharp points. Shod on all four and appears sound upon exam.

Jake, formerly known as Hip # 113, was rescued from November 2015 Mike’s Auction. This sweet, sweet boy was ridden through the ring and rode well. He is clearly very broke. His rider was quite rough on him, despite this, after showing off Jake’s moves, he dropped the reins and Jake walked away quietly and calmly. Jake presented with a BCS of 4. He has a very enlarged LF knee and upon radiograph was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the radial carpal joint. The knee has minimal flexion. There is significant amount of bone spurs. Circles and adult weight on his back are big no-no’s for him.

Carrot, formerly known as Hip #120 at November 2015 Mike’s Auction. Sommer reports that Carrot was a little pushy coming off the trailer. She ran towards her stall. She settled in quickly. Carrot is an Arab X and is ~18 yo. She is off on the LH. She presented with a BCS of 3.25 and had sharp points on her teeth. She had significant ulcerations in her mouth.

Lady Chatterly formerly known as Hip #121 from November 2015 Mike’s Auction. She is very friendly wants to be groomed on. Lady Chatterly’s feet need farrier care and she needs food. She is minimally eating the soaked feed that is being provided to her and is unable to eat hay. Upon exam, it was noted that she was minimally weight bearing on the LH and that she had foundered with significant rotation on the RF. BCS of 2.

Bella was formerly identified as Hip #119 from the November 2015 Mike’s Auction. She is an older lady who is a bit thin. She has a horrible front end. Dr. Heaton has diagnosed her with DSLD and she is compensating by being so over at knee. Despite this, she is a very kind mare who is very smart. BCS of 3.

Bijou was formerly identified as Hip #122 at the November 2015 Mike’s Auction. She is a dun mare who appears vision damaged in the left eye with significant corneal scarring. She came to auction with deep cuts over her eye, on left side barrel, and stifle. She is carrying decent weight. Bijou seems friendly but is a bit head shy. She is not comfortable with being touched on her left side likely due to the recent trauma she has endured. She has a BCS of 5. She is quite nervous with very bad teeth and significant ulcerations in her mouth.

Ella was one of two horses rejected from Mike’s Auction in November 2015. She was turned away because she had a gaping wound that had been left untreated for some time as it had developed a foul odor. It looked as if she had been skewered in the shoulder by a T-Post. Mike’s Auction insisted that this mare be surrendered to Forgotten Horses Rescue, Inc.. In turn, FHR asked Neigh Savers to take over her care. There she was, injured, starving and surrendered in a parking lot at Mike’s Auction. She has a BCS of 2.5 and is in need of feet and teeth being done.

If one of these lucky horses speaks to you, please let us know. We are always looking for incredible adopters to give a horse a wonderful home.

Sponsor a horse, donate to save a life, honor a loved one with a gift in their name. This is truly a gift of life. The November 2015 Auction horses thank you!

Donate: http://neighsavers.wpengine.com/donation/
Sponsor a Horse: http://neighsavers.wpengine.com/get-involved/sponsor-a-horse/
PayPal Email: [email protected]

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Some Exciting News!

After a unanimous vote from our Board Directors, Neigh Savers is proud to announce we are now working with all breeds of at-risk horses.

Our organization has always prided itself on the love, care, retraining, and rehoming we bring these horses. Neigh Savers is thrilled that we will be helping all breeds now.

We have and always will be very active in the Thoroughbred Industry. These horses are very near and dear to our heart.

Last month, over 60% of the horses that went through Mike’s Auction were loaded on the “wrong trailer”. Neigh Savers decided it was time to take action. From the discarded child’s horse to the forgotten trail horse, old and young, we will do our part in providing them with a safe landing and new home.

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Team Members Needed for Race for the Rescues

RFR-NS

 

Calling all Neigh Savers Supporters!

Join us in raising money and awareness for our Retired Racing Thoroughbreds at the most fun animal fundraiser of the year, the Race for the Rescue!

October 24, 2015
The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA

Help us reach our goal of $10,000  
We can do it…with your help!

Be a part of Team Neigh Savers. Unite in numbers and show your support for the horses. There are several races to choose from 1K, 5K, 10K, and Kids Fun Run. Want to support, but are in Europe? No problem, Join the Virtual Couch Potato Run!

Line Dance with Celebrity Guest Jane Lynch. Chow down on BBQ. Help run the Neigh Savers Tent. Oh, there are special prizes given for money that you raise. Raise money for your team and help the horses! It’s a total win-win.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER OR DONATERace_2015_11x17_Country_Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions? Ideas? Volunteer? Click here to contact Team Captain Maureen

 

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Neigh Savers Awarded Grant from ASPCA

We would like to acknowledge and thank the ASPCA for once again honoring us with a grant from the Equine Racers Fund. The ASPCA is the voice for all defenseless animals and has been for nearly 150 years.

Press Release:

Neigh Savers has been awarded a grant from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

July 14, 2015

Neigh Savers is the Proud Recipient of the ASPCA 2015 Grant

Neigh Savers is the Proud Recipient of the ASPCA 2015 Grant

Walnut Creek, CA – Neigh Savers Foundation, Inc. (www.neighsavers.org) is pleased to announce it has received a grant from the ASPCA. The ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Its mission, as stated by founder, Henry Bergh, in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

Neigh Savers Foundation, Inc. is a Walnut Creek based 501c3 non-profit organization with locations in both southern and northern California. Neigh Savers is dedicated to the welfare and safety of ex-race horses. Since its inception in May 2007, the organization has provided rescue, rehabilitation and retraining services to more than 400 thoroughbreds.

Karin Wagner, Executive Director of Neigh Savers said: “We are honored to receive this grant from the ASPCA to help support us in the retraining efforts of our off track athletes and heros. We are pleased that the ASPCA continues to support the programs at Neigh Savers and applaud their commitment to helping all breeds of animals.”

For more information, please reference www.neighsavers.org or www.aspca.org.

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Kid’s Open House at Schott in the Dark Farms

Diane Schott and little boy enjoying a pony ride

Diane Schott and little boy enjoying a pony ride

What is better than kids, off-track thoroughbreds, and family? Not much! On June 10, 2015 Neigh Savers’s Southern California hosted a Kid’s Open House at Schott in the Dark Farms in Agoura.

The morning was a great success. Families had the opportunity to learn about the Neigh Savers program. Kids got to meet two of our program’s horses: Onyx Be Good and High & Mighty. Carrots and scratches were plenty as children had the opportunity to interact with our horses. Many of these kids were touching a horse for the first time. Activities included face painting, horse shoe toss, people jumping, and pony rides.

A big thank you to Diane and Karl Schott of Schott in the Dark Farms for opening their barn to the community. Also, many thanks to our volunteers for making this such a success.

Face painting, it is a family affair

Face painting, it is a family affair

Lots of carrots and new friends enjoying the company of our resident horses.

Lots of carrots and new friends enjoying our horses

Best buddies digging with their horseshoes

Best buddies digging with their horseshoes

Baby & Dad meeting an Off-Track Thoroughbred

Baby & Dad meeting an Off-Track Thoroughbred

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TCA Awards Neigh Savers Grant

TCA 2015 Grantee

Neigh Savers Foundation is a proud TCA 2015 Grantee

Nigh Savers proudly stands with 67 other fine thoroughbred charities that received a 2015 grant from the TCA (Thoroughbred Charities of America). Thank you so much for believing in our work.

TCA Awards Over $511,000 in Grants

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) announced today grants totaling $511,650 have been awarded to 67 Thoroughbred industry-related non-profits that work to uphold TCA’s mission. Grant recipients from the last three years can be found on www.tca.org.

TCA distributes grants to several categories of Thoroughbred related nonprofits including retirement, rehabilitation and adoption organizations; backstretch and farm employee programs; therapeutic riding programs; and research organizations.

“After carefully reviewing each grant application, we are pleased to announce our 2015 grant recipients,” said TCA president Dan Rosenberg. “TCA appreciates the tireless efforts of each of our grantees as they work to advance their missions. We are also extremely grateful for the support of our donors that make our annual grants possible.”

TCA has granted over $21 million to more than 200 Thoroughbred-related charities since its inception in 1990. TCA grants funds to organizations that successfully meet the criteria set forth in its annual grant application. Grant applications for the 2016 grant cycle will be available on www.tca.org in early January.

Formed in 1990, TCA’s mission is to provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers by supporting retirement, rescue and research and by helping the people who work with them. TCA raises money for distribution to charitable organizations that work to uphold its mission. From 2000-2014, more than 95% of TCA’s expenditures were allocated to program services including direct grants.  Donations to TCA are always accepted and can be made as direct donations or as donations in lieu of flowers, birthday gifts or other occasions. TCA’s largest annual fundraiser is a Stallion Season Auction held each January. For more information please visit www.tca.org. TCA is the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

To find out more about the TCA and to donate visit their website at www.tca.org.