I’ve had Pax just over a month now and it has been a really different experience. I didn’t set out to get a two-year-old – I would have preferred that he had been three going on four – but when I saw him, I got that feeling that he was the one. Age be damned. But not only is he two, for a thoroughbred, he’s a bit of a young two having been born in mid-May. And while I wouldn’t call him immature in the sense that he’s overly silly, you can tell he’s a baby and he mostly has the attention span of a gnat.
So all the ground work I am doing with him is imperative to teach Pax how to focus and how to relax.
The focus is coming along though we still have moments where he’ll forget and spook himself over a stationary object or the dogs that have been walking quietly beside us for the last ten minutes. Pax isn’t nasty about anything, he just doesn’t know how to handle himself yet. To date, he settles pretty quickly and forgets even quicker.
The relaxation though? That’s been more difficult. Now that Pax knows the basics of the groundwork we’re teaching him (how to send, how to turn his haunches, two eyes & two ears), we’re starting to use that to teach him to relax. In our lesson this week, LT had me wait to release the pressure until we saw at least a small sign of relaxation in his body. I had to see a lowered head, a cocked back foot, an exhale or sigh, something to show me that his mind was slowing down as much as his body was.
We’re still figuring each other out, and I can already tell that he will not be as easy as Gus has been, but I’m having a lot of fun learning right alongside.
We got at least four but probably more like six inches of snow here in the heart of Georgia! I was shocked but thrilled. It made things feel like home for a small period of time.
Every solid surface was covered with snow. It looked like a scene straight out or Narnia.
So you know I dragged my husband out of bed to take photos.
And I am in love with these photos.
So thankful to my wonderful husband who took over a thousand photos of me struggling with two horses. He perfectly captured this magical moment.
I’m sure you are all sick of hearing about how Gus and I are handling our Novice debut and really just want to hear more about how New Kid, aka Pax, is doing. Right? No? Oh well, here’s an update anyway.
Except for that he’s had the last week or so off due to Pine Top and the holidays, I think we’re making a lot of progress. Pax is getting a lot better in the cross ties (though I’m still a little hesitant to put him back in the wash rack considering he already broke the cross ties once) and no longer thinks about kicking when I put hind boots on. He was very naughty for the farrier though, which is not at all acceptable. So we’ll be working on that.
Pax has had to learn a whole new way of going though. One where he has to mind and be respectful of people instead of doing whatever he wants. But he’s a smart kid and he’s learning.
My big goal for Pax is to take him to the Heart of the Carolinas and do the Future Event Horse 2yo division. I don’t expect him to score well, he’s not really what they’re looking for, but I think it would be a good experience for both of us. It gets him off property and in a show setting without a lot of stress (or at least I hope not a lot of stress!). I wish I was closer to Ocala and could go down to the FEH symposium next year to learn more but it’s just too far unfortunately and in the middle of the week.
One step at a time for the baby horse. More ground work and desensitizing this winter and then, once things start warming up, we’ll start hacking. It’s fun to have a horse that’s old enough to do some riding but still be able to focus on a lot of the building blocks.
Pax doesn’t have a name.
I’m sure they called him something on the track but he has never officially been given a name with The Jockey Club and now the pressure is on. OTTBs, as we know, come with a whole range of crazy names. Some cute. Some silly. Some are just “huh?” But those are the names they came with and I’ve never had to take the credit for one.
Now I do.
Now I’m the one who’s going to be responsible for naming this baby and it’s a little terrifying!
Especially when you take a look at The American Stud Book Principal Rules and Requirements around naming. After reading the very short document, I now understand why OTTBs can be named weird things like Candy Space Center (a filly I seriously looked at before deciding I couldn’t live with the name). Some of the rules are easy to understand (can’t name a horse the same name as one who has won the Kentucky Derby), some are not.
For example: In part 6 (Naming) Section F Number 9 – Names clearly having commercial, artistic or creative significance [are not eligible for use].
What. The. Fuck. does that mean?
I actually have a name that I’d like to use. It’s latin which means that I’d need to provide a translation to The Jockey Club when I register the name and there’s no guarantee that they will accept it but I hope they do. And over the weekend I submitted that name to The Jockey Club and it is currently under review!
But, in case they don’t accept I’m on the hunt for a mother name. The problem is that I’m so set on the name I do want, I can’t even think of anything else. So I need your help! What would you name Pax if he was yours?
New Kid now has a barn name: Pax!
And I LOVE this guy so much. He is so sweet and has been, so far, very willing. He definitely has baby race horse manners meaning he is just a little bit pushy and doesn’t know anything about how to behave like a grownup horse but all of these things are fixable.
Last night we had our first ground work lesson with LT. I’ve done some ground work before but have been largely self-taught which led to some mixed results. Dandy always reacted well but I’ve never been able to do much of it with Gus. He is very resistant and I just didn’t have the knowledge to get past it.
That’s where LT comes in. She is very good with her ground work and already just in working with Pax last night she has made a huge difference in how I handle the rope when asking for backing. LT noticed that when I was “marching” I was pulling, just slightly, the rope towards me and, since Pax is so sensitive, this was actually telling him to come towards me. Instead I need to be very deliberate in throwing the rope towards him. This little detail made a huge difference.
We worked on three things last night: the first stage of backing, disengaging the hind quarters, and desensitizing to the stick. I was very impressed with how Pax did although we did come to find that he’s very very sensitive. This could be a problem under tack but it’s a problem for a different day.
For the next week or so, my continued goal is to keep working on Pax’s ground work and give him all the love. I’m really liking this little horse.