Mr. Stickability Part II

Nate Hubbard

Interesting way to finish a race! Nate Hubbard hung on after his horse stumbled in the mud and finished second! Photo: Golden Gate Fields

Here’s another amazing example of a rider (jockey Nate Hubbard), who refused to let gravity and bad luck bring him down.  In fact, Hubbard held on for dear life after the filly, Sweetwater Oak, stumbled in the home stretch. He was still dangling from her neck as they crossed the finish line in second place. The track stewards ruled it an official finish because Hubbard’s feet never touched the ground and Sweetwater Oak carried her assigned weight throughout the race.

Standing Guard

standing guard

Zelda often stands by Curly when she sleeps. Curly is an excellent sleeper and someone has to watch out for danger.

Even before the move, the friendship between the horses was obvious. They look out for each other. They stand guard when their friend sleeps. And they worry when they are gone.

For the two weeks that Curly and Zelda were at the “old barn” alone, they stayed very close to each other. Although Curly didn’t get upset when I took Zelda off to hunt, she was always very happy when I brought her back. She’d start whinnying when she heard the trailer pull down the driveway and would race over to greet Zel.

In their new space, they are vigilant. Freedom in particular is keeping watch over his herd and it’s going to take some time to get them all to relax. At the old barn I’d put Freedom in a back paddock when I took Zelda out to ride. He felt comfortable there and would snooze and eat hay without getting upset.

Now, he’s worried. What if one of his friends leaves and doesn’t come back? This morning Willow’s owner came to ride her and found that she and Freedom both got frantic. They called to each other continuously and Freedom showed off his amazing speed by running laps in the pasture. Needless to say, it was not a fun ride. Funny thing is, Freedom is fine with leaving the herd — he just doesn’t like to be left.

This afternoon I took Zelda out for a ride. Freedom wasn’t quite as frantic, but there was a lot of “communicating” as we rode off. Freedom ran around a bit but either he doesn’t care that much if Zelda leaves or he was just plain tired. He quit running pretty quickly.

Zelda was good about going off on her own. We had only a few stubborn moments, none of which were punctuated with bucks. The way home got a bit dicey as she knew exactly when we got within ear shot and immediately announced that she was almost back. It’s hard to describe the feeling that goes through her body when she’s thinking of running home. It’s a gathering, a collecting, an anticipation of speed, power and willfulness.

I dismounted and walked the last bit on foot!

For the most part, the horses have really settled in well but I’ll be glad when they start to feel at home.


American Pharaoh Wins the Preakness

Most interesting thing about the photo? American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza are clean!

Most interesting thing about the photo? American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza are clean!

Today in Baltimore the track was very wet — beyond “sloppy” — and Victor Espinoza was worried that American Pharaoh wouldn’t like getting mud in his face. So he made the decision to hustle American Pharaoh out of the gate and bring him right to the front.

Turned out to be a great plan. American Pharaoh overcame the disadvantage of breaking from the number one post position and won by seven lengths. Interesting to see him run a completely different race than he did in the Derby. What an adjustable horse who really listens to his jockey.

How exciting to go into the Belmont with a horse this good poised to possibly win the Triple Crown.

Settling In

Zelda and Curly explore

Zelda and Curly explore their new pasture.

Stage two of the big move took place today. Zelda and Curly joined Freedom and Willow at their new home.

Zelda went over first (Curly has some stability issues standing in the trailer so I decided to take them separately).

There was much rejoicing when she saw her old friends, including a good old run in the pastures. Zelda sounds like a freight train coming up that hill! Freedom always amazes me by how lightly he moves over the ground, even at a gallop.

Old friends

The horses reconnected over the fence line. There was a lot of sniffing and squealing.

Curly traveled over in fine form and soon she too was reconnecting with her old friends.

Once they’d caught up with the gossip, they took a few more passes up and down the field. One good thing about this much space — they’ll all stay a lot fitter.

I love watching them run. It’s so nice for them to be in a place where they can really let loose.



William Fox-Pitt wins Badminton Horse Trials on Chilli Morning

With a perfect show jumping round, William Fox-Pitt secured the lead in the 2015 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, overtaking Andrew Nicholson who had lead the field on Nereo after Cross Country. In a rare misstep, Nicholson misjudged the second jump and then had two rails, moving him down to 6th place.

Chilli Morning, a 15 year old Trakehner-TB cross, is the first stallion to win an elite four-star event anywhere in the world. Watching Fox-Pitt ride him, you’d think he wasn’t very large. In fact, he’s 16.3 — it’s just that William Fox-Pitt is 6’5″. I am always impressed by Fox-Pitt’s amazing balance and body control. He is a master at staying out of his horses’ way and just letting them jump.

Here are some highlights from the event:

Here’s an interview with William after his win:

And since there’s not much on YouTube yet that shows the cross country course, an animated fly through of the event.