Friday, October 17, 2008

"Its a Gamble"

Had a nice late afternoon ride with Gambler, and Hank in tow. The air is starting to feel like Fall. The leaves are slowly starting to drop, and before we know it, they will be naked and bare. Saw a couple wild turkeys, and heard some deer. Did about 6 miles, and a little more trotting. So far, Hank seems to be doing well with the light work outs ponying him on the trail.

I thought in this blog, I'd tell a bit more about Gambler. His registered name is Rushcreek Gambler, and he was bred on the Rushcreek ranch in Nebraska. They have been breeding Arabians to use for their ranch work since the 1940. They have over 150,000 acres that they ran their cattle on, and the Arabians were suited well for the Sandhills of Nebraska and all day riding. When a horse was ready to be sold, and new, younger stock rotated in to the work string, often endurance riders would purchase these tough horses. Usually they had large bone, big feet, and a big heart-girth, and broad chest. Not at all what Gambler looks like. He is a smaller build horse, with nice bone, but not something that makes you stop to look, small feet, that remind me more of a mule foot than the big round feet of many of the Rushcreek horses, and is not well sprung at all. The ranch horses are also known for their laid back attitude, that don't get upset over much. "G" is a quirky horse. When we went to look at him, the owner said he was "quirky, stand-offish, and did not really like people". That summed it up pretty good. I was needing an additional horse to take along to the long XP endurance ride in 2004, and buying a horse already fit for endurance was a huge bonus. I did flexion tests, saw one hock a little ouchy, but not bad enough to keep him from doing rides. Otherwise, he seemed sound. He had started his endurance career in 1999. He has only done 2 LD (Limited Distance) rides, finished 3 100's, finishing 11th, 8th, and a 1st. The rest of his 1665 endurance miles were 50 - 75 mile rides. Lots of Top Tens, and a couple of Best Condition awards. He had been raced some, and while I personally do not "race" at endurance rides, it was something I considered when I bought him, as I knew the damage that can be done to the legs of horses ridden fast. But the price was right, and about a month after I bought him, we did 3 days of the 5 day Bryce Canyon XP ride (50 miles a day) in 2003. Then he did some days for me on the 2004 long XP ride, and we made an attempt at Tevis in 2004. This horse has some of the very best recoveries of any horse I have ever worked with. He could trot along through those Sierra Nevada mountains, come in to a pulse check, and in the time it took me to get off, water him, and grab him a handful of hay, his pulse would be down in the 40's. But the issue was, we were going along tripping constantly. For 70 miles, we tripped along, and I feared riding him in the dark on that trail, and was not upset when he came up lame after the 1 hour hold. We have since figured out his tripping is from his hocks hurting from arthritis, so he shifts his weight off them, and forward on to the front end. Then he trips. When he is on Adaquan and Legend, he does pretty well. These days he does not have to do much. He is mostly the hubbies horse, and kind of a back up horse for me.
And, his personality is still quirky, but he really does like people. He is just cautious about them. He is the low man on the totem pole, and the others pick on him. Except when I am riding him, and he will sometimes get brave, and make a face at Hank as I pony him. I remind him that Hank will remember that, and get him back when I am not around. But I think the cat could intimidate him if he wanted to. When camping, he actually becomes very personable, and does the quietest, softest little nicker when he sees me come out of the camper. Not bad for a horse that does not like people.

Gambler along the Pony Express Trail in Nevada. (on the left)

Gambler along the Tevis trail

His nickname is Tornado, since his star kind of looks like one, and his personality is FAR from being a tornado. Also, look close. Last winter he got light brown "eyebrows" over his eyes.

Gambler seems bored with my hubby. ;)

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