I'm just having so much fun with Bill now that I've started riding. I just noticed that this Sunday marks one year since he last raced (finished 3rd, bowed a tendon, still won $1,980 in the race, and had a claiming price of $15,000). Bill has under gone so many changes since I got him last Sept. that I thought I'd share them, especially to those who have just gotten a horse fresh off the track. Note that Bill is ten years old and has known nothing but track life, started 71 times; eight firsts, seventeen seconds, and fourteen thirds ($190,783 total). Well, when Bill was delivered to me at 9:00 pm Sept. 12, 1998, he was pretty calm, of course that's because he was sedated. So I tucked him in and went home. The next morning was another story. He was **CRAZY** shivering, shaking, sCrEaMiNg bloody murder, dripping sweat and tearing his stall apart. He had to have his dutch door closed for fear that he would jump out. I was pretty darn scared and my husband looked at me in terror, "you're not going in there, are you?". Well, I knew I had to and working with stallions and unruly youngsters I at least knew how to handle him. Bill leapt out of him stall like he had lion's teeth in his hindquarters! Leaping and charging as if I didn't exsist. After a while he settled down a little but I couldn't stay there all day. Grooming was also a challege. He hated to be touched. I have never met a horse that didn't have a favorite scratching place and Bill was the first. He danced and jigged all over the place when I brushed him. All I wanted was to brush my new horse and get close to him. I bought massage toys and books but he so dreaded my touch, especially his back and stomach, that I couldn't use any of it.
Then his barn pal, Pokey (mustang) came to live with him soon after. This was yet another struggle. Bill was extremely herdbound. If Pokey left his sight for a split second Bill would flip out. When Pokey went on trail rides Bill had to be locked up in his stall. We couldn't let him out much anyway because he would run like a mad horse after being turned out for more then an hour and this wasn't good for his bowed tendon. Everyday I would hand walk him. This gave me a great chance to teach him basic voice commands, whoa, walk on, etc.. It also helped to teach him good ground manners. He was VERY pushy, as a lot of exracers can be. He had to learn to not enter my space unless I said he could, he had to learn *I* was head mare now. For months this went on. As winter set in Bill started to really drop his weight. I did everything I knew of. Beet pulp, corn oil, supplements, free choice hay. Nothing helped. He had his teeth floated by the best dentist (to the tune of $150!). He was wormed regularly. I was at my wits end. I had the vet out in the spring and she suggested mixing his grain with a senior feed (higher in fat and easily digested). I also started giving him an ounce of Red Cell, which has just about every vitamin known to man in it. Along with his new feeding regemin and spring grass he's started to fill out. His summer coat is in and he is as shiny as can be. On sunny days I sware I can see myself in his side. Also with spring came a totally new attitude. I can turn him out all day and sometimes over night without him running. Now when he wants in he waits
quietly by the gate (okay, just a little head bobbing). Within the last two weeks I've really started riding him as well. He's been an absolute gem! The people (his exercise rider ) that delivered him to me said when I started him back to really wear him out before I got on because "he is FAST". He has been nothing like that. Practically falls asleep when my toe hits the stirrup:) The lungeing and hand walking I did prior really helped as well. When I say trot , I get trot. Whoa, gets me whoa(really important!). I have his total respect and trust and I truly
believe that having so many months of working on the ground with him and just being friends is what really has made us so close under saddle. Before, when he would trot around, at liberty or on the lunge, it was always with his head high and swaying back totally hollow. I knew I needed to get that back up but had an almost impossible time doing anything about it. For the last 2 days I've been asking him for a trot with his head low. The second he put it down I gave him tons of pats and scratches. What does he do now? He trots with his nose practically touching the ground! That's a smart boy. I've never had a horse learn and give so quickly! And the best part is, and this just really started, is that he loves to be brushed. I've even
found his scratchy places:) Finally, it took a year. He is truly the best friend a woman can have.
Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor & Pewter's Bill And a BIG THANK YOU to Carol Sinclair of TURF who brought us together!
Bill's Page: http://members.tripod.com/~jmacneill/Bill.html
"To ride a horse well, you have to know it as well as you know your best friend." -Katie Monahan Prudent