Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Clem Lobbies for House Cat Status

Clem is a really big cat, and has HUGE paws. 

Clem is adapting quite well to domesticated life. I swear this cat was feral, growling, snarling, running hiding hissing all summer, right up until two weeks ago when we caught him.  After being neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, and generally made presentable he is officially part of the Bit of Honey Herd.  Now he's sitting in laps, begging for belly rubs, sprawling out in my arms and trying to sneak in the house every time the door to the mud room opens.  He comes when I call him and will hop into his crate on command.  I guess he's decided he's officially done being feral.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chronicle of the Horse Magazine

The October 26, 2015, Chronicle of the Horse magazine featured an ad for CANTER Colorado, and two of our Bit of Honey Training OTTBs are in it!  The full ad is on page 60. 

The grey gelding is Hold the Flight, or Major as he was known around the barn.  This photo was taken of us riding cross country at training level in September of 2011.  Major has since passed away, but he will always be remembered as a phenomenal athlete both on the track and afterwards as a sport horse.  This photo was taken by Amii Harmon with Time Well Spent Photography.

The gorgeous bay gelding is Monty Python with me aboard riding the dressage portion of a horse trial this summer.  Monty is here at Bit of Honey Training looking for his new owner, so let me know if you'd like to purchase a horse who has been in Chronicle magazine!  This photos is by Kimberly Hale Photography.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sweetpeacefuldream Competes in KY

Saturday rolled in drizzly and humid.  Sweetpeacefuldream said she was ready to hunker down and rest under a blanket, but we had our day of competing ahead of us.  I took her out and hand walked her, then got her braided and we tacked up for our first round of showjumping at 2'.

She was wonderful in the warmup, hopping over the vertical and the oxer there with no problems, getting her leads easily.  When it was our turn we rode up to the Walnut arena, checked in with the ring steward there, and then headed in for our first go.  We had some folks from CANTER who took video and photos, but I don't have all of those yet so here are a couple Owen got with his phone.

I had two minutes at the beginning of our round to demonstrate to the judges that Miss Pea could lengthen and shorten her stride at the trot and at the canter.  We did our best, but being all alone on the far end of the arena was a little nerve wracking for her and she was more tense than she is at home.  Nevertheless she did the best she could, and when our two minutes were up (wow those went fast!) we cantered to the other end of the arena to start our course.  She looked pretty hard at the first three fences, but then said, "ok, Kim, if you say so...." and hopped over them for me.  By the end she was jumping well.  Video of this first round can be seen here:


As we left the arena we had a lot of comments from the audience about how honest she was, and folks could tell how hard she tried.  I was super proud of her, and put her back in her stall to eat some more while we waited a few hours for our second round at 2'6".

In the afternoon there was the usual bedlam of the warmup arena with both good quiet riders and some folks who looked like they were out for blood.  Fortunately Miss Pea wasn't phased, and she just gave the other horses some cryptic looks that said, "what is WRONG with your human?" because she couldn't understand what some of the trainers and riders were doing.  I'm so grateful that Miss Pea trusts me so she just ignored the nonsense and focused on her job.

We entered the arena to jump a different course for our second round.  It was the same jumps, but in a different order and they were six inches higher than the first time.  Miss Pea did the best she could, and I was very proud of her.  In hindsight I wish I would have had her do both rounds at 2', because she felt a little over-faced at this height, but she left the arena being praised and patted for trying so hard.  As I walked out of the gate I was gushing over her saying, "What a GOOD baby horse!  You were so brave and tried so hard!  I'm very proud of you, girl."  A woman I don't know who was sitting near the gate stared at me and loudly declared, "she has a good trainer".

Owen and I went to dinner Saturday evening and we were perusing the first issue of Off Track Thoroughbred Magazine.  When I turned the first page I discovered that Miss Pea and I are on the inside cover!  We are the jumping picture with the black background.
While we were finishing our dinner an older gentleman approached Owen who was wearing the Bit of Honey Training logo on his hat and jacket.  He asked Owen "Do you train here locally?"  Owen was confused, thinking about his title as firmware engineer and how that isn't the same thing as a train engineer...  Not realizing the guy thought Owen was a racehorse/track trainer.  I responded and said that I am the trainer for retired racehorses, and we are based out of Colorado.  The poor guy was as confused as Owen, he didn't expect the wife to answer, and not in that manner.  Eventually we got it all straightened out and I gave the guy a business card, but we've been giggling about the encounter all weekend.  Owen has never been mistaken for a racehorse trainer before!

At the end of the day they posted results for all ten disciplines, including our group of show jumpers.  We came in 21 out of 43, which is incredible for a young horse who has been jumping once a week for four months.  We were discussing, and we weren't sure if a Colorado racehorse had ever even been to the Kentucky Horse Park before Sweetpeacefuldream this weekend.  We really accomplished something special here.

Because we weren't in the top three we didn't end up going to the finale to jump again, but we definitely weren't going to miss our Retired Racehorse Project Graduation!  At the beginning of the finale we paraded in with most of the other competitors in numerical order by bridle tag, receiving our diploma, medal, and embroidered saddle pad.  By this point Miss Pea was more interested in grazing than in being recognized, but she was patient with more of my human nonsense and participated politely.  It was very fun to have Arapahoe Park announcer Jonathan Horowitz introduce her into the covered arena, explaining he had the pleasure of calling her races when she was on the track.

At the end of the finale there were a few moments for the top ten finalists to explain why they felt their horses were deserving of the title America's Most Wanted Thoroughbred.  I was watching from the stands and gave some thought to this myself.  If I were to give a little speech about Sweetpeacefuldream I would explain that she is deserving of the title because she is stellar example of good care of the American Thoroughbred.

Sweetpeacefuldream is well bred, was owned by wonderful track owners, and had great track training.  She won as a racehorse, and then was retired at just the right time, with no injuries.  She had an appropriate let-down period.  She was then restarted nicely to become a show horse, and carefully brought along with jumping lightly under saddle.  Sweepeacefuldream is America's Most Wanted Thoroughbred because she has encountered so many good humans in her life who have set her up for success and enabled her to easily transform into a wonderful sporthorse after retiring from a successful racing career.  She has experienced the perfect recipe of good breeders, good track people, good aftercare people, and good trainers.  If every Thoroughbred received this kind of treatment over the course of her young life it would be a simple thing for this breed to retake the sport horse world by storm.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sweetpeacefuldream's Friday at the Kentucky Horse Park

Today we got to the barn early and fed Sweetpeacefuldream and took her for a walk around the grounds.  It's amazing how the first day of actual competition changes the feel of the show grounds.  When we arrived this morning the place was absolutely humming with activity.  The horses could feel the difference as well, Miss Pea was much more alert today than she was yesterday. 

It is great fun to watch all the horses participating here in the makeover, especially since I'm coming from Colorado.  Usually when I go to a show I have a trailer full of Thoroughbreds, but I'm in the minority.  Mostly I see warmbloods or quarter horses, but here at the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover, all the arenas are full of MY TYPE of horses!  I'm spending a good bit of time wiping the drool off my chin as I admire them. 

Today the competition started with polo, then barrel racing, working ranch horse, and marketplace rides for the horses who were for sale.  That was in the covered arena.  In the Walnut Arena where I'll be riding tomorrow they had hunters jumping their courses, and eventing dressage was going on concurrently in a different outdoor arena.  There were also three warmup arenas in use.  Busy day.

I went to a few seminars in the clubhouse over the covered arena this afternoon.  The first seminar was a panel of folks who were leaders in the Thoroughbred sporthorse industry in the sixties and seventies, and they discussed how warmbloods gradually replaced Thoroughbreds.  There was some conversation about how one might get into buying, training, and reselling Thoroughbreds and do it for a living today, which definitely merits further discussion. 

The second seminar I attended centered around how to market your horse to find it a new home once it's been restarted after track life.  They gave a lot of good information about videoing, conformation photography, social media management and wording in advertisements.  I have a lot of notes from both seminars. 

I then returned to the barn and tacked up Miss Pea to go for a short ride.  She's acting a little uncomfortable, nudging me when I go to tighten her girth and clenching her teeth a little during riding warmup.  Nothing dramatic or terrible, this is just her way of telling me that she would benefit from some additional ulcer relief besides the supplement she is on that I sent in her feed.  We will pick up some for her tomorrow and hopefully that will make her more comfortable.  

Overall she had a very nice ride this evening.  Once done with her warmup I hopped her over the little vertical and oxer in the schooling arena.  It felt a little rough to me, but Owen got video and it looked better than it felt. When the internet connection here at the hotel is a little more cooperative the video Owen took can be seen here:

I love an audience, so of course I noticed several people stop and watch her working, with some whispers and pointing, which I choose to assume came from awe at her wonderful stretches and rhythmic gaits.  I'm getting excited to see how she does tomorrow! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sweetpeacefuldream Thursday at Kentucky Horse Park

Though Sweetpeacefuldream has been here in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park with my colleague since Tuesday evening, I arrived last night and we finally were reunited this morning at the show grounds for the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover.  Miss Pea seemed glad to see me this morning, though it's hard to say if she was happy to see me or the horse breakfast I was serving.  

I fed her and cleaned her stall, groomed her to remove the prior night's shavings from her fur, then took her out to hand walk around the grounds.  She is such a mellow horse.  We walked over to the very large indoor arena and checked out all the signage hanging on the walls.  This arena is large.  There is an adjoining warmup arena, stands all around the ring with bleacher type seating, a walkway along the perimeter that is hosting the many excellent vendors here at the Makeover, and there is even a raised stage at one end.

The lights had not yet been turned on in the ring, but Miss Pea was fine wandering around with me in the shadows.  Horses actually see better in dim light than humans do, so no problem there.  After we had checked everything out in there, we perused some more of the grounds in search of the arenas in which we will be competing.  We found the Walnut Arena, where show jumping will be happening on Saturday.  Our ride times are 10:20am for the 2' round, then we go again at 2:35pm for our 2'6" round.  That arena is really huge, with plenty of space for a dozen young thoroughbreds to get their jollies out, as we found when we went back to ride later in the morning.

On our way to finding the Walnut ring we saw the grandstand and the scoreboard for the arena where they hold the Rolex.  It was a bucket list moment for me as I posed with Miss Pea in front of the stadium.  I've always wanted to come here and compete, and though Miss Pea and I are not currently at "Rolex level" riding, the dream felt a little bit more real this morning.

The commotion in the barns so far is pretty fun.  We have hung the CANTER banner over the tack stall so everyone will recognize Miss Pea.  I've been reunited with folks I've met before in my equestrian wanderings, including the woman who gave me Schwartz, the folks at Gate to Great who retrain retired racehorses for ranch work, and the heroic people organizing this makeover.  In our barn aisle so far I've met folks who brought their horses here from South Dakota, California, and England.  The horse from England is for sale, and should they have trouble placing him by the end of the weekend and decide not to ship him back overseas, I'm tempted to beg steal or buy him a ride back to Colorado to be a Bit of Honey horse.  He raced in England and so does not have a tattoo, but is microchipped.  He moves like a dressage prospect, but is only four years old and fortunately has not yet been started over fences.  His busy lips remind me of Highboy, and his leggy stature is quite endearing.  He is a light bay with socks, so Owen will never notice one more bay Thoroughbred gelding, right?  Owen insists he's on to me and that he will indeed notice if I send the horse home with my colleague.  I told him that's half the fun of going to shows is all the horse and tack shopping.  Of course I usually do it while declaring, "Owen will never notice one more bay horse/saddle/saddle pad/dog/etc"!  We'll see how the weekend progresses.  There are a lot of nice horses here for sale, so hopefully all the online marketing will pay off and many of these horses will find the right home.

I tacked up Miss Pea and we rode in most of the arenas later this morning.  I wanted her to check everything out and she made me really proud.  All the time spent at home hacking around the pastures with the noisy dogs plus the shows we went to in Colorado equated to a brave calm mare at this big event.  She mostly rode around at the walk on a long loose rein, happily taking in the sights and sounds of the show grounds.  Even when the other horses around her were excitable and doing airs above ground she just quietly watched.

The footing is spectacular.  The indoor arena where the finale will happen Sunday night is some kind of dirt/sand, but there doesn't seem to be any dust.  Two of the outdoor arenas are like a felt/sand mixture, and the signs say they are German Geo Textile.  The dressage arena is sand, and over the course of the morning we saw it watered, dragged, and manicured three times.  Miss Pea really likes all the footing in the arenas where we rode.  She is moving spectacularly well.  While we mostly walked, when we did trot she was very soft, round, reaching for the bit, and lifting her back nicely as she stretched her hind legs well up underneath herself.  Similar relaxed posture for cantering.  It's exciting to me to have her find that gear, since we have been focusing on relaxation and rhythm I knew it was coming but she had her "aha" moment in the ride this morning.  Good progress is being made on her training even all the way across the country!  We are a little limited for photography this weekend since Owen is just using his cell phone, but better some photos than none!  Tonight is the competitor's meeting, and then tomorrow the seminars begin.  I'm looking forward to making some good connections and meeting more like-minded TB enthusiasts!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Orange Cat Captured!

We caught Orange Cat!  He has been fighting with Sabbath all summer, and we finally caught him last night.  He has decided to be REALLY friendly and affectionate, so I think we'll get him neutered and keep him.  I have some video of him purring and generally making a fool of himself to get attention, which can be seen here:

I've started calling him Clem, a little more masculine moniker and short for Clementine.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sweetpeacefuldream "Send Me on My Way!"

This past weekend I took Sweetpeacefuldream to my colleague near Denver where she will catch her ride to Kentucky for the Makeover which starts this week! 

The morning started with getting Miss Pea dressed for travel and loaded in the trailer to begin the first leg of her trip. 

Next we invited the dogs into the cab of the truck in case they wanted to join us on the field trip.  They answered in the affirmative and hopped right in.  Mahzi offered her services as co-pilot while Miles napped, but Rebecca had already called shotgun.

When we arrived in Elizabeth at my colleague's barn, Miss Pea was alert and ready for the next phase of her adventure.  We unloaded her and put her in the round pen with shed where she spent the night.  They headed out at four this morning to make the drive past the halfway point so they can get to the horse motel before dark.  Then they will drive the second half of the trip on Tuesday, and I'll meet Miss Pea there on Wednesday when my husband and I fly in.

To see some video of Miss Pea loading up at Bit of Honey, unloading in Elizabeth, and checking out her evening accommodations you can click here:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sweetpeacefuldream Packing for KY

And so it begins...  I'm packing my trunk for Sweetpeacefuldream for her trip to KY.  Miles the border collie is pretty sure he will attempt to stow away.  He certainly doesn't want to miss a horse show this fun! 

I haul Miss Pea to Denver today where she will catch a ride with one of my colleagues who is going to the Kentucky Horse Park for a three day event the same weekend as we will be there for the Makeover.  Miss Pea is for sale, so if she sells to an approved buyer at the show they can take her after the competition.  Otherwise she will ship back to Colorado with my colleague at the end of the show and we will continue to market her here in Colorado.  Her sale ad can be viewed here:

Keep an eye on the blog and on the Bit of Honey Training facebook page, there will be lots of updates as the trip progresses so everyone can follow along with Miss Pea's adventure to the East coast!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Buddy's Training and Dewey's Trails

Buddy the paint gelding is coming along really nicely.  He has mostly figured out how to balance himself in the corners at the walk and trot.  He sometimes still loses his balance and has to stop and think about it (a good default if you ask me!) but as long as I give him the time he needs to process he will pick up the pace again with no problem.  If I were to apply pressure and really "get after" him to keep going he would stress out and he wouldn't learn the lesson I'm aiming for:  just think about it and try again.  When he does the right thing I cheer for him and praise him and pat him, which is pretty entertaining for everyone else to watch.  Even his canter departures are getting better, and he can hold his canter without losing his balance for twice around the whole arena now.  We're still working on walking and trotting over poles, but it's coming along.  He got his very long toes trimmed today.  You can see in the photo taken a few days ago in which he is trotting towards the camera, that he really stabs his toe into the sand.  Pulling his shoes so he is now barefoot with his toes trimmed to a proper length to ease the breakover will allow him to put less strain on his tendons and ligaments. 

Buddy really is a calm mellow soul.  I've also been riding him bareback and while I'm teaching riding lessons, and he is just happy to be part of things.  An uncomplicated horse if ever I met one.

Dewey is having a good time with his new owner, Rebecca, too.  Today we went for a hack out in the back forty while I rode Beauty the Quarter Horse.  Dewey loves to be out of the arena and looking at different things.  He was pretty clumsy as we started, not paying attention to his feet and stumbling.  We took two laps around the back field and by the end he was walking in a straight line and placing his hooves much more carefully.  It's so good for the youngsters to get out onto uneven terrain and walk up and down hills.  It helps their coordination, their butt muscles, and keeps their brains happy.
After our ride it was warm enough that Rebecca gave Dewey a bath.  I don't know if that horse has ever been that squeaky clean and shiny in his life, but I took a photo to document it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015