Monday, July 28, 2008

The Sport Horses have no Spots!

I am a rider of horses! I like being on a horse and it doesn't matter what the activity is, I will give it a go. Showing my Josey in English classes was fun, learning more and more of the subtle technique of riding English and teaching it to her was also challenging. At one show in Loomis, Ca, Josey was awarded 1st place in Suitability for Dressage, against a large class of 12 horses. After the class she and I walked back to the trailer to saddle up for our riding classes. A very nice young lady, whom I had met at the local feed store and at our club Poker ride, came over to congratulate me. We talked for a while and found out we lived within a mile of each other. We decided to get together and ride sometime. That was a turning point for me, for Formula One Farms and for my horses!

It was also at this time that hubby and I acquired an Appaloosa gelding we called Luke. The original reason for buying Luke was so hubby would have a stout horse to ride while we waited for Sundae to grow up. We did not know much about Luke's past life, but we liked how nicely he behaved under saddle. I knew he would be safe for hubby to ride anywhere. Luke came to Ca from Idaho, it was a long trip and he traveled well. Hubby liked him from the moment Luke stepped off the trailer. Two weeks after Luke arrived, two young girls from our club came over to look at this "imported App" and we found out just how talented Luke was. He was show material and another facet of Formula One Farms evolved - one of those young girls became his show rider and Luke and Sundae spent the entire show season in the ring!

Which brings me to my point.........even though Cool Hand Lukens was of stock horse lines, he did not move like a stock horse, he moved out, with reach and propulsion like an English horse. Just as Sundae liked to float along suspended in the air when trotting. I wanted to cultivate and refine that movement.

Which brings me back to meeting that unique horsey individual. The chance encounter sometimes reveals opportunity and meeting up with a Sport Horse breeder and TB Race Horse enthusiast was quite an opportunity. Breeding Josey to a royally bred TB stallion was a no-brainer. And in 2002, my first official Appaloosa Sport Horse foaled at Formula One Farms. It was very exciting and an event the whole neighborhood came out to observe. F1F Richwood's Jewel was born and she was a star!

Little Jewel would grow into a very talented and sweet mare! She stole the hearts of many, with her sweetness and her beauty. Chestnut is not that unique of a color in the horse world these days.........but on this filly chestnut was the perfect color! With her little frosty blanket and those long, springy legs, she was amazing! The Sport Horses really can have spots!!

next blog........The heart of a Thoroughbred

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Second Appaloosa and Formula One Farms is born!

In my search for people who knew these horses, I met some nice and some not so nice people. Some were people who should never ever have horses and I not only walked away from them, I ran and did not look back! Scary things those types do to horses!

I was fortunate to meet a fairly nice and diverse group in the Feather River Appaloosa Horse Club, based right in our little town of Lincoln, CA. Not everyone had Appaloosa horses, not everyone was into the show scene either. A few were great trail riding buffs with huge Apps. A couple were gamers and there were activities galore offered by this club. Since I was on a huge learning curve, I spent my time participating and supporting the efforts of this small group.

Even my hubby was happy to hang with the men in this club, they were Mountain Men and Pony Express riders and they hunted too! So he was thrilled to get to talk about rifles, pistols and other assorted guns. It was a family atmosphere where everyone watched out for each other, the kids and horses.

At this point, hubby and I decided he needed to get himself an App. Old Banner was just the sweetest horse, but hefting around hubby all day long was starting to wear on him. We decided to breed Josey to a club members Appaloosa stallion. This horse was shown and was also ridden. It appeared very calm and stout, crossing on to Josey would surely produce a nice, beefy smaller sized horse that we could train up just for hubby. So Josey was bred.

A long wait ensued and the excitement grew! Everything around our place was gearing up for the blessed event, our dear little Josey was going to hopefully have a nicely colored, sweet and easy going foal. That was our hope anyway. Things don't always turn out like you want. But at 2:15 am on Easter Sunday morning, Josey delivered a super cute little guy and in the darkness of night he appeared to be all white. We were excited and stunned!

You know how the name game goes, well after a lot of compromise, Josey's Sundae Jack got a name. I called him Sundae and hubby called him Jack. I am sure he was confused while he was growing up just as to who he really was. He was very sweet and he was defiant, very defiant! We kept working with him, letting him know who was boss and kept his education going.

It was late in the summer of Sundaes first year that I decided I wanted to take him to a halter class. He was not a halter horse, he was lanky (secretly I loved his build) but I thought it was important for Sundae to experience the outing. He had already been in several local parades, ponied off his dam. He spent time at the California State Fair getting petted by every little girl and boy. He loved the attention and just blossomed. So a member of the club offered to give me a hand at prepping him for his Halter debut.

Sundae learned all about clippers, baths, walking and stopping and trotting and standing! He was great. He never placed in the class! But it wasn't about winning, it was about learning and supporting that wonderful club.

Sundae was gelded at eight months, he was registered at the ApHC and Formula One Farms was founded. We only raised cattle, pigs and sheep at that time. The club had a Poker Ride every fall that attracted hundreds of riders from the local area and I met a truly unique individual during that first Poker Ride who was to have a huge influence on me and my horses.

Time went on, Sundae grew and grew and would not stop growing. When he passed the 14 hh mark on his first birthday, we were quite amazed. Hubby wanted a small horse, I liked tall, lean and muscled horses. I thought he looked great, hubby was worried he wouldn't be able to get on and off during hunting rides. It didn't matter then, he was a yearling and I took him everywhere. In the English shows, Suitability for Dressage Class, Sundae was a hit! He loved running with his person and boy could he really move out with his trot. He was lovely, floating along beside me just as cute as he could be! I was enamored!

next blog...........The Sport Horses have no spots!

Friday, July 25, 2008

How it all began!

Not everyone is a fan of the Appaloosa, really??

A long time ago, in a land far far away, there was an excited husband bursting thru the door to tell me all about two horses that were abandoned and needed help. "They will make great lawn mowers babe!" he said. Hmmm, did he not remember my telling him horses were expensive? Did he not remember how I had to sell my horse when I entered the military and how it nearly broke my heart? How I put horses out of my mind for 15 years so I wouldn't have that tug on my heartstrings again??

Nope, he didn't and that is how Josey came to live with us 16 years ago. When I first saw her, my heart sank! She was way too thin and her feet were awful! She was also a bundle of nervous, scared energy.

It took over a year of patience, lots of walking, lots of bran and beet pulp mash with carrots, and hay to get this filly to actually walk in a halter and lead rope next to you, not dancing sideways! As her weight came up, her trust in us began ever so slightly. She had been abused, there was no doubt in my mind. She had been left to starve in a field of dirt! You could not bathe her, you could not load her into a trailer, you could not ride her. My vet stated she was anywhere from 3 to 5 years old and he wanted her for a Polo Pony. Fat chance buddy!!

After that first year, Josey settled down to be a fine yard ornament and the vet said we could go ahead and start her saddle training. Another six months went by with lots of slow round pen work, oodles of desensitizing items and Josey wore a saddle for the first time, with no issues! Woohoo!

The trailer was another story took two hours to load the first time, not so bad I thought! Soon she was loading in under 10 minutes, YAY! So we decided to take her and our reliable Morgan Banner (abandoned along with Josey) on a Trail Ride. Loaded them both up and off we went on our first adventure. Great ride, lots of scary things that Josey dealt with on that first outing, but she took to the trail nicely. We got back to the trailer and we went to load up and head home.........well, Josey had other ideas. 3 hours later, we finally convinced her to get into the damn trailer! It was dark by then. First adventure with minor setback!

Not knowing what she had been through in her short life, we knew she was trying her best. Patience was all she wanted, she had to think things through and needed time to do so. So finally, after two years of work, Josey became a reliable mount, fun at gaming, moving cattle, schooling shows and lots of Parades. She was a hit! She charmed everyone! She was able and willing to try all sorts of activities, she has even done Dressage. I was hooked! If this little Appy, scared out of her wits could come out being such a people horse after all she had been through, then for me, there was something about this breed - not the spots, not the flashiness, but the mentality of being a people horse was hard wired into the core! I went in search of other Appy people who could show me and tell me all about this wonderful breed!

Josey at, we guess, 19 years old

next blog.........The Second Appaloosa!