[RC] Leg confirmation and Heart - Long and Slightly Humorous (how to pick ahorse by heart) - Stagg_Newman
Re post of Heidi's and Becky's and Bob's, I totally agree.
My top 3 recommendations to people when looking for a horse are:
Focus on entire picture, not particular measurements or features.
Pay particular attention to the horse in motion
And if like me you do have a particularly good eye, work with somebody
who does whom you can trust.
BTW our experience is that one will not learn some of the important
attributes of the horse until
you get into competition, particularly if you are looking to do 100s. A
lot of horses can do 50s well
but a 100 takes something extra. Note that most of our horses including
Drubin, Bahrain, and Super
were not yet started under saddle so one can only be patient and learn what
the horse really has.
We are fortunate that we got our first endurance horse Ramegwa Drubin, from
(after starting with a wonderfully athletic thoroughbred that was wrong for
sport - made to go 6 furlongs, not 50 or 100 miles - lots of "heart" -
wrong muscle type).
Maggie said Drubin was a bit of a handful and needed a strong rider but he
a good endurance horse. Maggie was right on both counts! Now that we
know Maggie better
(Maggie is a now a dear friend and was my mentor in the sport), we know
that she meant
he was quite an handful and she was going to be glad when he was somebody
handful and not hers. How she convinced me to buy Drubin is a long story
for another day,
but thank God she did and that I trusted Maggie. Re the discussion on
heart, a sonogram
of Drubin's heart showed he did have excellent stroke volume. And mentally
had the will go keep going strongly in the second half of a race when other
horses were tiring.
We got our second, my wife's first real endurance horse, Smoke Rise Strut,
from Dina and Steve Rojek.
As those who know Dina and Steve, they breed and raise superb horses (and
normally do not sell them).
Strut had the mental will to do whatever the rider wanted. He has been an
excellent endurance horse
(now retired) with 3 wins in 100s but on occasion he would thump or have
other sight metabolic problems.
His mental will was stronger than his physical ability and so one had to be
careful not to ask too much.
Personality wise he totally spoiled my wife for any other horse - not sure
what we call that - maybe love between horse and rider.
For our 3rd horse we went back to Maggie to buy Drubin's one and only son,
Bahrain looked like a bigger stronger version of Drubin, worked at a lower
pulse, and like Strut could
out recover Drubin early on in a ride but also like Strut did not have
Drubin's bottom or heart in the last half of a 100.
Bahrain did some good 100s but had problems in others. I used to think he
just did not
have the mental strength of his sire Drubin (and he is a worrier rather
than a bold horse).
But I now believe Bahrain did not handle his electrolyte balance as well
and so was actually
getting into muscle pain in the latter part of a tough 100.
If anyone knows how to one predict any of the above when purchasing
PLEASE let me know.
We got our fourth endurance horse, Jayel Super, from Janice Leinhart, on
the advice of
her then husband, Dr. Dwight Hooten. Dwight told us he believed Super
would be an excellent
athlete (and he is - 2 Old Dominion wins, etc.) Dwight said he should be
my next competition horse after Drubin.
Dwight had planned to use Super himself but realized he would not really
have the time to compete him.
Moreover Dwight is about 6ft 6", a bit of a disadvantage for serious
Dwight was also honest and warned us that Super was "a bit of a wired 3
year old" and had yet to be trained.
He had grown up running free on several 100 acres in Kentucky
He convinced us to go look at Super but we really had to intention of
Janice transported Super to a friend in Va. and we went down there prepared
a very thorough exam. I reread my notes on lectures by Courtney Hart on
measurements and angles, read stuff by Deb Bennet, the section on picking
horses in Lew Hollander's book and Linda Tellington Jones' book, etc. We
to Va. with our tape measure, a stethoscope to check the resting heart
rate, hoof testers, etc. We were
ready to do all the technical stuff.
When we got there the lady who was taking care of him said Super was leery
particularly women except for Janice. We like to say when we first saw him
he had a halter on but was not yet really
halter broken. So we go out to look at him and he immediately trots over
to Cheryl with this
magnificent trot (the horse in motion) and says here I am! At that point I
think we knew we were buying another horse.
Then came time to trying to take measurements, heart rate, pick up feet,
etc. Forget it!
Not with Super particularly after he broke loose while I was jogging him in
hand and went
running around like crazy with a dangling lead line. I could not so much
as get a stethoscope
on him much less pick up rear feet, get him to stand still for
So much for our technical analysis. We bought the horse on looks in motion
and faith in Janice and Dwight.
Does Super have heart? In his first competitive trail ride, he had a 28
pulse at the mid-point check.
Then at the same OD clinic where we found out Drubin had excellent stroke
we found out Super's stroke volume was not particularly special but that he
had a "defect" in his heart,
probably an aortic insufficiency, aortic valve does not close completely.
We immediately ask our vet
at the time, Dr. Jeannie Waldron, what do we do now. She asks if we have
seen any problems in training.
We say no he has had great recoveries. She says ride the horse (and adds
for all we know many of horses may have
an aortic insufficiency at rests). And now I know that Super has
phenomenal recoveries. So "go figure". He
does have physical heart. (BTW he does not necessarily work at a really
low heart rate. Rather he can quickly elevate
his heart rate as needed and then it quickly drops. Becky Hart once told
me the same about Rio.)
Does Super have the mental toughness? At this stage I would say that time
will tell as he is still early in his career.
Moral: Find a better horse person than you and let them help you get the
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