Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Farm visit: Moms and males and a chewer of tails

For the first time since I've owned a horse -- that's the spring of 2007, if anyone is counting -- I managed to visit my charges on consecutive days at their boarding farm in central Virginia.

I stopped by Hilltop Farm, north of Gordonsville, on Friday afternoon, and after a pleasant first-time visit to Lynchburg (almost two hours off) I returned Saturday morning to spend some time with the horses again.

All is relatively well in their world, though the new colt -- who remains unnamed, which is likely fodder for another blog post -- is in dutch with Sarah Warmack, the farm owner. The not-so-little guy (pictured here at exactly 21 days) decided to chew off mama's tail.

His dam, Bushes Victory, has such a fine, flowing forelock that Sarah has joked she should be a hair model. Well, her tail was long, glistening and beautiful, as well, nearly touching the ground.

Not anymore. Her new little cuss has gnawed two-thirds of it off.

Sarah has coated the remainder with a nasty concoction that will hopefully prompt the colt to keep his teeth to himself. Meanwhile, she says he's otherwise just about as playful and desiring of human attention as a foal could be.

At the other end of the barn, my yearling colt, now being officially registered as All in On Red (Inner Harbour-Lady's Wager, by Lear Fan) is sharing a large stall with his pasture buddy, Illicium Verum, aka "Vern." They spend the warm days shaded indoors, and get turnout at night.

Red was a very late 2009 foal, born on June 18. So in his picture here, he is only a year and eight days old; some yearlings would be 16 or even 17 months of age.

Vern was foaled on April 11 last year, making him 68 days Red's senior. At what I'm guessing is a shade under 14 hands, Red has caught up to Vern in size (Vern's sire, Noles, and dam, Star Anise, are both only about 15.2) and has eclipsed his classmate in speed.

Sarah says that Vern is "always the instigator" when the two race in the field, breaking first and building a quick lead. But Red never fails to overtake him. And when they make a turn back for home at the fence, the younger colt progressively draws off, and keeps running long after Vern has run out of wind and thrown in the towel.

They're just two young horses on one small farm, but I like the fact that Red seemingly wants to run -- and run, and run -- and is intent on finishing ahead ... well ahead.

As for their dams, Tory will learn to live with a short tail for awhile -- Sarah speculates it will take two years to grow all the way back -- and Lady is keeping on weight better than at any time since I got her (in 2008) and is feeling a bit more energetic in the pasture as she enters her second empty season in a row. She is not in foal since my stallion, Silver Music, the tail-biter's daddy, died on Derby Day in May.

Two moms, two boys, and no foals expected in 2011. We'll make do with that for now.

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