You can see confidence in a Thoroughbred when he wins his first race. You can see it in the morning when the horse bounces on to the track.
In late October at the Second Call "Fall For Horses" All-Thoroughbred Charity Show and Festival, Ally-Gator (Jockey Club name Thewifedoesntknow) showed the same confidence. She was in a strange environment, surrounded by strange horses, and she performed like a star, earning ribbons in two classes.
I only had time to watch Carole warm Ally up at the show, but it was a successful outing, and a hint of the great things to come in the show ring for this mare.
Five weeks after the show, Ally was brimming with even more confidence during our photo shoot. Just five months ago, she was fresh from the track, and learning her new career as a riding horse. Now, she has mastered the basics and shows them off with style. At the trot, her shoulder is freer, and she is able to carry herself and rely less on Carole for balance and guidance. As her topline improves and she becomes more muscular, she becomes more elegant and powerful.
Due to Hurricane Sandy derailing everyone's plans and schedules, Ally's training slowed a little. For the past couple of weeks, she and Carole did not do much jumping. As soon as they trotted up to the first cross rail on Sunday, Ally's expression perked up, and she bounced over it with enthusiasm. During her over-fences work, the mare's outline rounded, her eye brightened, and there was a spring in her step. Unlike horses who rush fences when they lack confidence, Ally - full of confidence - floated to each jump.
After warming up over a few cross rails, Carole and Ally rode a line from one cross rail to an oxer. Ally accepted the new challenge with alacrity, rounding her neck and basculing over the fence.
I got to see more of Ally-Gator's playful side when Rio, a resident barn cat, decided to hang around with us.
Carole's daughter, Liz, rode Ally at the end of the session. She said she had not ridden the mare in a while, and it was a pleasure to watch her work with the mare.
- Click here to read my interview with breeder Meg Buckley, who bred and raised Thewifedoesntknow
- Click here to read my interview with Tim Shaw, who trained "The Wife" at Monmouth Park and retired her as a sound sporthorse prospect
- Click here to read my interview with jockey Shannon Uske, who rode "The Wife" in her last race
- Click here to read Karen Hagy's conformation analysis of the Thewifedoesntknow, and see "before/after" photos of the changes in her musculature and hooves since she retired from the racetrack in June
IN OTHER NEWS
Horses and Hope 2013 Calendar
With the help of Gina Keesling of HoofPrints, my 2012 debut calendar contained over 100 photos of auction horses. Thanks to the support of horse lovers all over, it raised nearly $40,000 for One Horse At A Time, helping hundreds of horses in need directly, and untold others indirectly through increased public awareness. Now that we have one calendar's worth of experience to draw upon, the 2013 version promises to be even more exciting, even more creative, and as always, inspirational and positive.