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Wizard Ride 367: Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie

June 12, 2012

Saturday, 6/9/12

A stunning turn of events in the racing world led me to riding in the Assunpink on Belmont Stakes Day. My back had been feeling pretty punky since our vet appt on May 30, and I was dutifully babying it. I had myself prepared for the eventuality that I would have to lug ladders and camera gear all over Belmont Park on Saturday for the Belmont Stakes, especially with I’ll Have Another bidding for Triple Crown stardom. But on Friday morning, it was announced that he had a tendon injury, would not run in the Belmont, and would be retired from racing.

It was a big bummer for me as a shooter, since I’ve yet to see a Triple Crown in person (all I’ve got are Slew and Affirmed since I was born). I’m really glad to hear that the horse is in good shape and that his connections did the right thing by him.

And I took the announcement as an omen that I should enjoy the day on horseback in the Assunpink instead of slaving away with cranky photographers at Belmont Park. And so I did- gimme some saddle time. Wizard stood quietly as we tacked up with his filly friend, Brigid. He stood like a statue as I mounted up for our ride. My back felt fine during the ride. Whew…

We rode a little over an hour in the park, all at a walk. We took the paved road out of the barn and down to the back Horse Park of NJ entrance. We walked around the entire back cross country field. This was Wizard’s second ride in this field. The first time, he got pretty excited out there, but we were with a larger group and we were trotting and cantering. Something about an open field without a path gets his engines revved. He is fine in the big fields with paths across them or around the edges, but a giant grass field is just too much for his little brain. The bugs were worst in the cross country field, too, so that added to his anxiety. He did not do anything bad, but U could sorta feel him wanting to blow up a little.

We walked back out of the Horse Park on the gravel path, and into the rest of the park, riding through the “roundabout” field, up a red clay road, and over the ridge of the “bowling pin” field. When we got to the trailer parking area, Christie dismounted to make a tack adjustment and remounted at the picnic table. Always a good skill to perfect!

Wizard was pretty antsy when we stopped to chat with a rider and his horse, but other than that, he strode home with a confident and comfortable walk. We played “pole bending” around the trees by the gate so the horses learned that work is not always over when we get back to the barn.

I brought Wizard over to the tack up mats and GINGERLY dangled from his neck and dismounted. Success. Dismounting on mats is a GREAT idea.

Wizard got a hosedown and was being prepared for turnout when he began to dance around like a bit of a nut. I could tell he was about to throw a tantrum, so I unclipped his tie and fastened the chain over his nose on his leadrope. He proceeded to wag his head back and forth and pull back pretty hard on me, rearing a few times when he hit the end of the line. I got him away from the horses who were lined up next to him, and gave him a sharp pop each time he considered rearing up. I turned my shoulder away from him and got him moving forward as quickly as I could. We did a few circles before I returned him to the tackup area. I could see a drop of blood on the side of his nose. I assume a bug bit him. My friends said they saw something flying around him as well. I understand that these bug bites hurt, but there’s no excuse for rearing unless he’s by himself, loose in the field. For the rest of the session, he stood like a stone, behaving like a perfect gentleman. And I doubled up on fly spray ;^)

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