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A Tribute to a Great Team

There is not much more that can be said that what is in this video.  Thank you, Duck!

Where did that month go?

Oh wow...it has somehow been a MONTH since our last post and it's on a week to the Makeover!  How did that happen?

In that month, Duck has only added to his resume.  Labor Day weekend saw him compete in his first ranch rodeo.  Not only did he acquit himself well in his first big event with crowds, lots of other horses, a loudspeaker and general chaos...he was part of the WINNING TEAM!  Hurray!  "Team Duck" as we called ourselves this year took home top honors as well as winning the final "shootout" which pits the top 4 teams in a final speed event to take home an extra prize.  Our team also won top Youth Hand, Top Hand and Top Horse (our youth rider's pony, Bucky).

Here is a short video with highlights of that day: Newell Ranch Rodeo Video

Soon after that, Duck had his first taste of the other side of the riding world when we asked him to free jump at our neighboring Rivervale Farm (who also happens to be a sponsor...thanks!).  It was his first look ever at a jump that wasn't just part of the scenery while we ran down cows (Duck has jumped plenty of logs, creeks and ditches doing that work!)...and he took to it like the pro he is!  Duck's pedigree is littered with the best in showjumping bloodlines in the Thoroughbred world, so we had great expectations when we properly introduced him to fences.  Whomever takes him home and moves on with him is going to have one spectacular prospect for a variety of disciplines on his or her hands!

We will try to get at least a few more posts in before we leave...we can't wait to meet all our new fans and friends in Baltimore!


Dressage Test in the Bull Pen

I am sure everyone saw this title and couldn't figure out what it meant.  Today Duck taught us all a little bit about what and why a horse needs to understand the things that we teach them.

This morning was spent helping a neighbor gather and load some bulls from a large pasture.  We had three riders and just a few bulls to load...but asking bulls to leave their lovely ladies in a pasture can always be a pesky business.  We set up a funnel of panels that led to the stock trailer and brought them in. The first few went along fine, but the last big bull had a whole set of ideas in his head that did not agree with ours.


After some wrangling, we had finally gotten him pointed in the right direction. Duck and I were riding out, keeping to the bull's right and moving him towards the funnel.  The bull suddenly hit a long trot and seemed to have an awful lot of intent, but since he was going in the right direction, I wasn't too worried....but Duck was.  Without any cue from me, Duck switched into a strange, super collected lope and began to move perpendicular to the bull...in what I believe is called a "half pass" in dressage terms.  He stayed in the mode until he got me only about four feet from that bulls shoulders. Duck was so collected that he felt like riding a giant spring...he was just ready to jump into action if that old bull decided to try anything at all.  We stayed just like that right down the funnel and to the trailer door.

The bull jumped in the trailer rather quickly and I wasn't quite in position to get the door shut on him as he spun around to hop back out.  Again, without prompting from me, Duck saw the situation and actually jumped us both inside to push the bull to the front and keeping him in.  We got the inside middle gate shut and the job was done...all thanks to a Thoroughbred who could read the situation faster and better than any one of us "old hands" on the job.  What a horse!

All of Duck's work this morning made me realize that sometimes training the really smart horses are like teaching smart kids...they often will ask you the question of "why".  Duck is one of the most intelligent horses I have ever worked with and for better or worse, often thinks for himself quite a bit!  When I was first teaching Duck to sidepass this summer, I could see that he understood but he just didn't want to and would often argue about it...it was like he kept asking "What is the point of stepping sideways across the arena?".  But the first time I ever asked him to sidepass so we could shut a gate behind us, he did it perfectly and quickly, without question...as if he was saying "Geez, why didn't you tell me in the first place that was what that was for?"

I guess the moral of the story is to try to take time to see things from the horse's point of view and know that they are individuals who have questions and want answers just like we do.  Make it make sense for the horse and you can go a long way!

Fans Make it Better!

One thing that we have found truly amazing over the past two months of being a part of the RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover project is the amazing fans that have found us along the way.  Through this page, Facebook, our website and even at our local cafe, we keep hearing from so many people that are following Duck's story this summer.  We never expected to have this many people interested in the little things we do on our ranch in the middle of nowwhere in South Dakota...and knowing that people are interested, and even excited, about what we are trying to accomplish has really made each day more exciting and rewarding for us.

When you get involved in taking horses off the track and trying to find them a new career, it can be disheartening at times.  Not only are you figthing against preconceptions about what a Thoroughbred can or can't do; you often can feel very alone in what you are trying to accomplish....especially in the heart of Quarter Horse country!  The past several months have shown us that we are not at all alone and that people throughout the US and even internationally are just as excited as we are to see what these amazing animals can accomplish if we only ask them.

Through our Facebook page (click here for a link to it), we recently had a fan from Wyoming send us this great "Team Duck" baseball cap she made through her business, Fossil Creek Designs.  Random acts of generousity, support and kindness like this are what make those bad days of manure hauling, stacking hay and cow kicks all worthwhile!  Thank you to Kara Lenardson for this great gift!

We have also recently starting raising funds to help get Duck to Maryland.  It is a looooooong trip from South Dakota and we appreciate all the fan support and help we get!  Our friends over at Back Forty Media and Marketing helped us create this sponsorship page for anyone interested in being a part of "Team Duck".  Click HERE for more information on being on this special guy's team!




A Week in the Life of Duck

It's been a few weeks since we last posted about Duck and he has been a busy boy!   Somedays he simply helps go check miles of irrigation ditches, others he works on arena basics like flying lead changes and figure 8's and then there are the cow work days...learning to rope, sort and move cattle effectively in small spaces.  He has made a few friends along the way, notably our cowdog, Bella.

To keep from getting long winded, we put together the below video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then hopefully this video covers at least 100,000!  Enjoy!

A Week in the Life of Duck: