This week we are celebrating a lot, it’s a long post but fun so I hope you’ll find the time to join me. No educational research stuff today, just fun.
For one, it’s National Pet Week. The week was designed for vets mainly to help raise public awareness for veterinary medicine and to encourage responsible pet ownership. Either way it’s always fun to show off our pets! You can show me yours by visiting my Facebook page The Green Horseman’s Facebook; the me see those happy animals!
Including our two fosters The Green Horseman is owned by 12 animals now. The horses: Warrior’s Blade, Zeno Bay, VaiVia. The dog: Bardi. The cats: Kain and Shadow “Miss.” We also have the 5 hens (at one point had names Pink, Rihanna, Brittany, Merida, and Grace) but we can no longer tell them apart based on the original names) and “Jack” the roo. Jack was originally Jillian until he started looking like a boy.
Our second celebration…
Today marks our one year anniversary of having Bardi as part of our family. Bardi is a five-year old Icelandic Sheepdog. I met his former owners at Tractor Supply and mentioned that I was planning to adopt a dog soon. I really wanted a border collie and planned to start my search by looking for one. The people I met mentioned they had a dog that really needed to be rehomed because they had two dogs (of four) that weren’t getting along very well. Of course I had to consider it! We met Bardi (who ironically has similar markings to a border collie and some people mistake him for one) at Tractor Supply to get a first introduction. After talking Zac and I agreed to take Bardi on trial to see if he’d fit in well at home and to help restore peace to the home. After a few weeks it was clear he stole our hearts.
One year ago I picked this sweet dog up and brought him home. We had a couple rough weeks as we all had to take some time getting used to each other. Bardi’s life was flipped upside down, Zac had never had a dog before, and I hadn’t had a dog since I was a high-schooler. We made it work though. Zac never pictured himself loving a dog (and agreed to it to make me happy) but he admits he adores Bardi as much as I do.
Remember Overdue Update Part 4?
One year later and he is by far the best dog I’ve ever known. He’s incredibly loyal, smart, kind, and…I’ll say it….perfect.
He gets excited but he also knows how to chill. He runs after birds but his recall is fantastic. He takes amazing care of the chickens. I can train him to do a new trick in 10 minutes. He adores being with us but puts himself to bed when he’s sleepy. When I hack around the property he sticks around within eyesight.
I can’t express my gratitude enough for this amazing little dog. It was a difficult choice for his other family to re-home him but we live nearby and I hope they take comfort knowing that he’s happy and loved (and very spoiled).
Finally, we have a THIRD celebration this week.
Vai Via turned twenty one on Tuesday. Twenty ONE!
This little horse is something special. He has a small little frame and a delicate refined face. His body may be smaller but it’s put together well. His legs are clean, hooves are nice, and he maintains his weight very well. He suffers from aural plaque in his ears but he has also become less ear shy with me over time. Just as long as you halter him with the crown-piece!
Vai Via had his soul broken at one point. Shattered. Mentally he lacked confidence, was on edge, and was very anxious. He clung to Zeno Bay as a safety blanket. Zeno’s sagely wisdom comforted Vai Via and helped pick up the pieces. Zeno restored some of V’s confidence and even let V push him around a little bit.
Through observation I realized quickly Zeno was in fact the leader but he let “Little Man” get away with things; V began to transform into his own new character. They continue to be best friends but V doesn’t worry anymore when they get separated.
Vai Via was born May 7th, 1998 at a farm in Virginia. His dam, Cormorant’s Fable. His sire, All Gone who won $247,716.
V’s breeder is listed at Contention Partnership of which I can find no useful information.
Vai Via made his debut as a three-year old in race 6 at Aqueduct Race Track on the cloudy March 15, 2001. One mile on the dirt. This was a maiden special weight race and V didn’t do very well. He was owned and trained by Clarke Whitaker.
For the rest of 2001 V didn’t do much better. He traveled to Pen National and Delaware Park and came away with a handful of placements. In fact, it wasn’t until his 22nd start that Vai Via finally broke his maiden. On a clear July 5th 2002 Vai Via ran one mile on the dirt faster than the rest during Race 6 at Penn National.
He took a couple races at Meadowlands in October and November and returned to Penn National where he was most familiar. Then, between March and April 2003 Vai Via was changed hands to David Petten with Clarke continuing as trainer.
In May Vai Via had a brilliant two races. Both races were slightly over one mile and V ran to victory. The streak didn’t stick. In August he moved the Charles Town where he would race until the end of his career. Clarke Whitaker didn’t move with them so Dave Petten was listed as trainer until he was claimed by Donald Demeza on October 2, 2003 with James Williams as trainer. Two races later the owner became Triple Z Racing (Demeza) and the trainer was switched to John Smith.
The only win photo I have is Vai Via’s final win January 1 2004. This race was 1 1/16 miles on the dirt during race 9 at Charles Town. Four more races later and V retired March 14, 2004.
During his three year career Vai Via raced 47 times earning $40,165 with 4 wins, 6 seconds, and 10 thirds.
After his career Vai Via’s history goes blank. I have been unable to dig up anything else on him; everything I’ve shared is searchable using Equibase. Last year I had a thought that perhaps he had been cast to pasture for the last 16 years since at the time he seemed too green to have been a riding horse. Today I don’t think that’s the case.
All we do know is that someone let this sensitive soul down by someone in a major way.
Vai Via was found in a Pennsylvania kill-pen marked for slaughter in February 2018. A number of incredible people rallied with Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation to save his broken soul. After quarantine he spent most of his time in Maryland with Zeno Bay. Both boys came to me in September.
Vai Via was very anxious when he came. When he was with Zeno you wouldn’t have noticed but on an individual level he concealed a lot of emotions.
I began both horses by doing mostly groundwork. This helped me get to know what they were afraid of and how their manners were. Vai Via took a lot more time to desensitize; he was afraid and wanted to flee. Using my body cues and patience I have been able to show him I mean no harm.
Since V has painful aural plaque in his ears I refrained from bridling him (yes, I know I can detach the crown for easier bridling). I used a halter and clip-on reins to start. I sat on him bareback. At first V did not take well to any of this. The slightest pressure on the reins created anxiety and the mere touch of my calves triggered a flight response. He would not walk, he’d hustle. He would not lower his head he hustled as a giraffe. I spent 10-15minutes per session just getting on and “walking.” Once he began to relax and drop his head, once he started to walk, I would dismount and return him to pasture. I often got on him and allowed him to graze. These small outings were meant to establish the idea that riding isn’t always a bad thing for him.
I let the horses rest most of the winter. If it wasn’t icy the ground was too hard and rutted for safe riding. I only managed to get on when we had some fresh snow to provide better footing.
Last month we had a nice day and I was able to hack all three boys. I first took Zeno barebacking with a halter. We walked around the property then up the hill and through woods. We came back down and I asked him to cross the small stream that cuts our property in half. He refused. Next was Blade. We did the same. He also refused the stream crossing.
I had no intention of taking Vai Via out that day but he SPOKE to me. He told me “I’m ready.” While grooming he was relaxed. I got on him bareback with his halter and he was still relaxed. His ears were up, neck relaxed, and he WALKED. We walked around the house. Even while the boys were out of sight V continued his happy state. We went up the hill and he happily bushwhacked through the woods. We came down the hill and WITHOUT SECOND GUESSING he crossed the stream.
A couple weeks ago we had another nice day WITH NO RAIN. I took the opportunity to saddle up.
I rode everyone in my western saddle, a lightweight synthetic by Big Horn. We started with only 20 minute or so rides since we are ALL out of shape. Everybody happily walked, trotted, and cantered; including Vai Via.
Recently I also decided to take out my bow and arrows. Unfortunately I don’t know when we will actually be doing mounted archery as a group again, but last year Blade was doing quite well with it. I picked a day that was clear but soggy from all the rain we’ve been getting.
I took Blade out and grazed him while shooting arrows on the ground. On this particular day he had forgotten everything we had done last summer. Every thwack, every jostle of the quiver, even the passing cars bothered him. I shot over and over again until he was at a better place mentally and returned him. There was no sense doing any more with Blade that day.
I was curious so I took Zeno Bay out and as I suspected he barely even noticed anything I did. I rubbed him all over with the bow and the arrows. I made noises, I shot from the ground. He grazed. I got on and we walked bareback and I tried shooting a couple arrows. He also didn’t care at all.
I was never nervous about Zeno because despite a few feisty bucks he’s quite trusting and trustworthy.
I never would have guessed Vai Via would be ok with bow and arrow.
I took V out to graze. I let him stand on a long line and shot one arrow to my target. V’s head raised, slightly startled. What he did next surprised me. Vai Via came closer to me…the one making the strange sounds. He stood by my side grazing while I shot the next arrow and never lifted his head again. This made me proud to think that he would seek safety by trusting me. He was so good, in fact, that I also was able to get on him bareback and fly a couple arrows at a walk. He was attentive but relaxed and never afraid.
It all comes to yesterday (Wednesday) which ended up being 60°F and sunny. I took the opportunity to clean everybody’s willies and ride. I rode Zeno. Blade’s headshaking was pretty bad so I let him graze. I also tacked up Vai Via.
If you read Blade Chronicles: Springtime Exercise you may remember my goal for V is to get him riding more relaxed. This ride I decided to try a bridle. It took 30 minutes to get him to realize I don’t want to hurt his ears but we got the bridle on. I also used my English saddle on him this time. He went well in the western but I feel I can ride better in English.
Vai Via took some time relaxing this time with all the new things (most likely not new to him but new to him and I as a team). We trotted around and around, and before too long he was dropping his head and relaxing his stride. We spent most of our ride doing walk/trot transitions and direction changes in order to encourage relaxation. He listened incredibly well and I was impressed. By the end of the ride V was taking the bit and giving to pressure more than I expected for this session. I wasn’t worried about head carriage I only wanted him to relax. It seems if I stay consistent (and get back to riding lessons) he’ll be progressing a lot faster than I realized.
We also took the opportunity to canter. He has a wonderful flying lead change that I wasn’t prepared for; I lost my balance and almost fell off. He was wonderful all the same. His right lead is a lot sloppier but when cantering the left lead he collects on his own but with a tilted head. His canter is smooth and dreamy!
Vai Via is blossoming and loving his life here. He and I are always learning new things about each other and I’m always trying to find him a new favorite treat (treats seem foreign to him).
Vai Via almost didn’t make it to see his 21st birthday and I am so grateful to Unbridled and the incredible donors who saved his life. These people have made his life possible and I feel I’ve made a lot of progress in making it even more meaningful…and I hope you feel that same!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY “LITTLE MAN” VAI VIA!