Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meet Pilot

Pretty much all of 2007 Melody was just not quite right. She would go on and off lame every once in a while which mostly we attributed to her feet, they are terrible! Finally in August she started going off after jumping so we decided to get x-rays to find out what exactly was going on. What we found was she was getting arthritic in both front fetlocks along with an old sesamoid injury that had recently been exacerbated and re-injured. Our vet who is one of the best lameness vets in the country suggested injecting her joints with hyaluronic acid which is a much better option than hydrocortisone in my opinion which is known to be a great help for a time for inflammation but with use causes cartilage damage which gets you right back where you started! He also suggested stall rest for 6 weeks followed by handwalking and then gradually getting back to turnout. We did as prescribed, she ended up without a rider for about a year. He said best case scenario she would get better but looking at the damage he cautioned she might not be anything more than a trail horse.

Needless to say I was heart broken, as difficult as this horse had been she was FINALLY getting it together. We were schooling upwards of 3' at home and she was going beautifully! So like the stupid kid I was back then I decided I needed a new horse!

Enter Pilot, jockey club registered F Sixteen. Get it?! Clever nickname right? ;)

I first met Pilot when he was a three year old in November of 2005. He and a few other horses shipped into the farm for lay-up over the winter. He was a holy terror, he was a gelding, than goodness, and had (and still does) a MASSIVE oral fixation. He always had to try to bite you or chew on something, it wasn't malicious, he thought he was being funny. At times we called him alligator when he was being particularly obnoxious. He left in March the following year to get back to the races.

In June his owners invited the bosses and myself to one of his races at Monmouth Park. Ironically this ended up being my first live racing experience, I'd seen hundreds of races on the television but had never been to a live race. He ended up finished a good 4th of 7 beaten 8 1/4 lengths. Minutes before the race the skies opened up and what had been a fast track turned into a sloppy mess. He broke awkwardly and trailed the field but made a nice move and came in fourth. While disappointed his owners were pleased with the performance considering the start and he hadn't run in almost a year.

We met again in November that year when he was sent back to the farm for a rest. In his time at the farm while he was in race training I only ever rode him once, the day before he left in March of 2007. I remember him as being a beautiful mover albeit a bit lazy. Everyone at the farm really liked him, he was beautifully put together and had such a great way of moving, he was also very supple and flexible which impressed everyone because quite a few racehorses are stiff, as a baby someone started him right.

Late in 2007 as I was contemplating the idea of another horse his owner's contacted my bosses telling them that they were going to retire F Sixteen as he'd had two poor performances and their trainer believed he would need to be dropped in the claiming ranks. His owner's did not run any of their horses run for tags, if they wouldn't be competitive in allowances they would retire and rehome them. His owner's are very prominent on the OTTB front and they've had great success rehoming their horses because each horse they purchase is of very high quality. As we got more of their horses in for lay-up we noticed they were commonly of the same conformation and build. Honestly each of their horses are drop-dead gorgeous.

My boss mentioned that F Sixteen was looking for a home and I jumped on the oppurtunity. If I'm being completely honest this was a dumb move, as hot as Melody was Pilot is a VERY quirky horse and while now after 5 years of owning him I'm enjoying him, for years he was pure hell to ride. Violently spooky, spins, massive bucks, leaps, bolting, propping, you could NOT trail ride him, he would rather lay down than cross a stream, the sound of the grass blowing, birds flying by, squirrel of death equaled instant horror, falling down while spooking because he wasn't paying attention to where his feet were, anything you can think of he did minus one, he has never reared which I am thankful for, I hate rearers! Many, many times I have seriously considered contacting his owners to get him rehomed (they give their horse's away but you have to sign a contract stating that if you no longer want/can care for the horse you will notify them so they can either approve a new home or take him back). Every time I was entertaining these thoughts he would do something that would change my mind, this horse is so athletic he has so much ability, we just had to dig through 5 years of horrible and now we are tapping into the potential.

So, with all that said, meet Pilot!

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