Dappir Ridge Road to The Makeover: “The Eleventh Hour”

Team Dappir Ridge is nearing the eleventh hour in our preparations for the Retired Racehorse Project “Mega Makeover”! With just over a week to go until we ship out to Kentucky, each of us are busy doing last-minute tune-ups with our horses and have taken them each to their final prep outings. Our travel plans are finalized, and now we are crossing our fingers and toes that everyone stays sound and happy between now and October 11! It has been a long road full of ups and downs preparing for this momentous event. We are all extremely excited to showcase our group of lovely Thoroughbreds to the world.

Adriana Nannini

Wicked Soprano (aka Raven, Sting Ray, Raymundo, Sweet Baby Ray, and a smattering of other equally ridiculous nicknames) has had a great lead-up to The Makeover. She is really showing her true colors as an event horse; she seems to absolutely love the job so far! I enjoy her so much that I’m planning on keeping her after the Makeover with the hopes that I can bring her up through the levels as my own personal event horse. My older upper level horse is now semi-retired and doubling as both a dressage horse and BN packer these days; she’s my horse of a lifetime, and her shoes will be impossible to fill, but spicy little Raven will just have to try! 🙂

In the past month or so since our last blog post, Raven had the chance to go cross-country schooling at Win Green, where she navigated lots of new questions with enthusiasm. I like to say that she’s the perfect combination of brave and careful; she wants to get to the other side, and is eager to please, but is also just so catlike and clever.

A couple of weekends ago, we went up to the Maryland Starter Trials at Loch Moy to tackle the Beginner Novice there as our final prep event before The Makeover. Thankfully, Raven seemed much more relaxed overall compared to her past few overnight show experiences! She is becoming a lot less reactive about the atmosphere at shows.

 In the dressage warm up at Maryland, I found that I could actually use my leg and seat without feeling like I was sitting on a ticking time bomb, which was a pleasant new development! Raven was so soft and relaxed through her back, and much more rideable than she has been in previous tests. I was just so proud of her! 

Raven has turned out to be a dynamite showjumper, which is befitting because stadium has always been my favorite phase! She put in a clear, rhythmic round that made me grin from ear to ear. 

That show was Raven’s first time tackling a cross-country course without schooling it the day before, which was a great test to see how she would react. To my delight, Raven was so game and felt like a real cross-country horse. She settled into a rideable rhythm and took everything in stride, even the ditch! 

Raven’s living situation changed about a month ago when I moved her home to my farm. After being a boarder for my entire adult life, I finally have my horses all living at home with me! This change has been extremely beneficial for Raven’s temperament because my horses live outside 24/7 at home. She is so much less tense and nervous now!  However, living outside has proven to be not so good for her sad little crumbly feet, or her superfast metabolism. 

The first thing that happened that was rather concerning was that her glued on shoe popped off. She has literally no hoof wall left on that foot due to ripping the shoe off so many times, and once the glue-on came off, I asked my wonderful, saintly farrier to resort to desperate measures. He put a Sigafoo shoe on, (which is still attached as I type this, fingers crossed!) so now Raven has two completely different shoes on her front feet. She looks kind of silly, but it’s working, so I will try not to fret about her feet not matching! 🙂 

The second thing that is concerning is that she has lost some weight due to moving around all the time, stomping flies, etc. I am pumping her full of calories and doing literally everything I can to stop this from happening, including fretting about it late at night (probably not so helpful!) but she is a growing 4 year old and has proven to be a very hard keeper when living outside. So I suppose my main concern about Raven is that she is able to maintain her weight and not lose any more between now and The Makeover! She’s been dewormed, her teeth have been floated, and she eats so much alfalfa I wouldn’t be surprised if she turned green! Please think plump thoughts for us. I should buy stock in Standlee alfalfa products…

I am so, so excited to show off my spicy little fireball at The Makeover. She has matured immensely over the past 9 months, and I am really proud of what she has become. Watch out Kentucky, the Sting Ray is coming for you!

Adriana Nannini with Wicked Soprano schooling cross-country, and coach Kiki Osbourne looking on. Photo courtesy Carla Nannini.

Adriana Nannini with Wicked Soprano, Anna White with Black Spartacus, and coach Kiki Osbourne. Photo courtesy of Ruth Cruz.

Adriana and Wicked Soprano practicing their showjumping skills. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Kelly Giunta, VMD

Robbie Jones went to the American Eventing Championships in Lexington, Kentucky in August. It was his 4th recognized event! I was really proud of how Robbie handled the atmosphere at such a big venue. We had three respectable phases and finished 35th in a large, competitive Novice division.  

Following the AEC’s, Robbie and I competed at The Old Tavern Horse Trials in Virginia. We had a very good dressage test, despite not so good footing and a meltdown in the warmup which involved colliding with another horse. The tension followed us to show jumping warm up, and we ended up with a rail on the first bending line. While Robbie has excellent form over fences, he often gets distracted and is not the most careful horse. He also likes to swap onto the left lead every chance he gets. He had a brave and forward run around the cross country course and finally cantered into the water without trotting or leaping in!  

Our biggest challenge has been learning self carriage and going in an uphill frame. It’s still a work in progress, but we have come a long way from where we started! Our next preparation will be a local hunter show to get ready for our second discipline, and then we are headed to Kentucky for The Makeover!

Kelly Giunta and Robbie Jones at the AEC’s. Photo courtesy of Xpress Foto.

Kelly Giunta and Robbie Jones at the AEC’s. Photo courtesy of Xpress Foto.

Robbie Jones. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Anna White

Black Spartacus (“Zeus”) and I have had a great summer/fall season learning all sorts of things! As mentioned in the last blog post I fractured my wrist at the beginning of June which put me out the tack for a solid six weeks. I did, reluctantly, listen to doctors orders, though it helped that my horses had been “rehomed” for the time being.

After Zeus returned home I was a bit nervous about where we stood. The weeks leading up to my accident weren’t the best rides. Simply put he had been acting like a punky toddler, but as I’m often reminded, he is a baby race horse. 

To my delight, Zeus had definitely turned a corner. I attest much of this to his boot camp sessions with Brieanna Litten of BLM Horsemanship and my teammate and longtime friend Adri Nannini. 

With this newfound attitude we forged ahead getting back into the swing of things. In August we went to Plain Dealing Farm’s jumper show where he jumped confidently around a 2’3 and 2’6 round. After a few lessons and a cross-country school, we then headed to the Oakdale Schooling Trials. Zeus had a superb outing at Beginner Novice, completing his first unrecognized event on his dressage score with a bit of time. This past weekend we competed at the Virginia Starter Trials at the Virginia Horse Center. Zeus definitely struggles with leaving his friends, and having another horse on the trailer with him that day derailed his mind. While I didn’t have as relaxed and pleasant a test as the previous show, we were able to work through the kinks to end in 8th on our dressage score.

Over the past months I’ve felt and seen glimpses of an event horse in the making. Zeus has always been brave and willing, but isn’t the straightest or easiest horse for that matter. His sportscar-like build allows him to contort his body in many different shapes and at times he can be a bit dramatic. However, galloping around Oakdale, I could not help but smile as I knew that this was the beginning of something really fun! That moment when the baby horses start looking for the fences and understanding the questions is pretty magical!

My plans with Zeus after The Makeover include a recognized run at The River Glen Horse Trials, and then some much deserved downtime. Originally, I had bought him with the intent to sell during/after The Makeover, but for now I’m enjoying working with him and am looking forward to next season.

Anna White with Black Spartacus, and her dog Thor. Photo courtesy of Kate Mumbauer.

Anna White and Black Spartacus practicing their jumping skills. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Black Spartacus. Photo courtesy of Anna White.

Kiki Osbourne, Our Fearless Leader

Well, Shake and Spin (“Frijole”) has no idea that the Makeover is only two weeks away, so I probably won’t tell him. Might be best to just surprise him. At this point, I wish I could say that Ole has been to several more shows and outings like the other three makeover horses in our group. But, my reality is that I have very little time to devote to my own ride. Thankfully, Ole doesn’t really know he’s only 3 and behaves better than most 6 year olds with very little ride time (most of the time!).  I am rolling with this theory for the next two weeks, and hope that we can keep our quiet momentum up through our trip to Kentucky and down the centerline of the dressage rings.  

We had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to get some help from Leslie Lamb and Jontelle Forbus. While I’m always inclined to be pretty easy on Ole, as he is only 3, they both agreed that he was really ready to buckle down and do some real work in the ring.  We worked on encouraging Ole to accept more contact and connection through his body. While I’m pretty sure he thought it was kind of hard, he gave it a good go with no complaints and has just gotten better since that week!  He is a really comfortable horse to ride, and when things are right, he feels pretty amazing! Jontelle even said that I could go to a recognized dressage show, ride a Training level test and fit right in. Even though I have zero desire to wear white pants in order to ride at a show like that, I’ll take that as a compliment.  (Yes, I will be wearing tan pants at The Makeover, FYI!)

While it’s hard to predict what Ole’s performance will be like in Kentucky, he seems to have an amazing brain and is interested and willing to learn. As a bonus, I think he’s quite an attractive, athletic horse with above-average quality movement. The double bonus is he doesn’t wear shoes! He has the best Thoroughbred feet- how nice to not have to worry that he may come in from the field without a shoe. I’ll enjoy this as long as I can!

Ole has managed to master removing his top stall guard on an almost daily basis. The clip holding the guard is a carabiner, not a double ended snap, which is usually the key to keeping mouthy horses from setting themselves free. With a 3-5 minute wiggle of his lips, he can release the snap, leaving just the lower stall guard. He seems happy with that setup, and never tries to leave or even undo the lower one, thankfully. It’s pretty entertaining to watch him play this game. If he’s not doing this, he’s sleeping in the back of his stall, or walking/trotting the Kentucky Derby in many, many laps around his stall.  As long as it’s quiet in the barn, he’s quiet. But if there’s a lot happening in the barn, or people up in the hay loft over his head, he starts his laps. If this is the worst thing he ever does, we are way good!  

Looking forward to the week in Kentucky.  We hope some of you who read this will stop by and say hi to the Dappir Ridge crew!

Cheers from Kiki and Ole!

Kiki Osbourne with Shake and Spin. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

Shake and Spin. Photo courtesy of Kiki Osbourne.

As always, go Thoroughbreds and go Eventing!