Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Riley! Many more...

Riley 48 hours from age 3 and me
(hey, is the saddle too far forward?)

Riley at 3 weeks: The spring of 2006 I looked at many baby horses -- in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. I was close to making an offer on a lovely colt in NC, a fancy mover by Don Principe. I almost cancelled the trip to see Riley. "Sit on your hands," the breeder told me. And she was right. While I was not certain about the others, with Riley I just knew. What was different? It wasn't movement, although he seemed to move well. It was his trust and confidence in people, they way he sought out his handlers, and his sweet expression.

Riley as a yearling:
As a yearling, Riley was a sweet, pencil-neck geek. He had what I call "scissors movement," thoroughly unable to lift the front end. We did some breed shows where he managed to qualify for Devon's USDF championships. We finished 10th out of 11 horses :-).

In his yearling year, I recall one moment in particular. I was working in the indoor ring in hand, while a young woman was taking lessons on her huge warmblood mare. The trainer told me where to stand while she negotiated a course. The rider went off course, and jumped an oxer that sent her barreling toward us. I was scared! She veered away from us by a scant few feet. In the corner of my eye I saw Riley's eyes, like big saucers. But he stood there with me. Even the trainer came and gave him a big pat.

2 years old
Okay, here he's getting handsome, and big. My hopes for a super-refined head fall by the wayside as he outgrows the halter with amber piping I bought for him.

Get your crystal ball out? What will he be?
I should have some video of his backing on Tuesday. Writing endlessly about my horses is such an indulgence. I appreciate that you all are such good sports. So far no comments saying "Enough already." Thanks for that.


  1. He's adorable, and seems from your description to have an excellent temperment. A lovely boy - you are indeed fortunate.

  2. Happy Birthday Riley!

    He's such a handsome birthday boy, too! I never get tired of hearing about Riley, but I do have a slight bias- I have a De Laurentis filly of my own, who will be turning 3 next Wednesday. Olivia sends her best wishes to her big half-brother!

  3. What a cutie. I have never read a blog before where someone's had a horse from so young - it's nice.

    Can't wait to see what he does in life :)

  4. What a nice looking horse you have there!
    You asked if your saddle is too far forward.
    Two things to go by: Is there enough room for his scapula to rotate backwards? (Feel it when you walk along side w/ the saddle on to feel if it is being pinched.)
    And the lowest part of the seat should be in the center. Imagine a marble rolling down from the cantle and the pommel and where do they meet? In the center? Your marbles would be more towards the rear.
    Also look for the cantle to be higher than the pommel (side view). In the photo they look almost level.
    My advice would be to have a saddle fitter (I use County and love how she has helped my super narrow TB) help you fit Riley. You sure don't need any back issues just starting out! Best wishes to you and Riley!!!!!

  5. Riley was such a cutie as a colt and he has grown into a very handsome boy. He looks very well proportioned and balanced.

    Happy Birthday Riley!

  6. He is so gorgeous. Loved to see the photos of him across the years...great to see the development.

    Happy Birthday Riley!

  7. In a world with so much bad news, this is such a happy spot in the universe. Happy Birthday and hugs, Riley. I know you will make your human person proud. We all will awake with expectant hearts on Wed.!

  8. Enough Already!! Just kidding - wanted to be the first to say! Tihi.
    He is gorgeous! You can really see his trusting nature, just looking at him.
    I can't wait to hear about his development now that he's ready for work; are you ready?

  9. I love reading about Riley! I bought my horse as a weanling, and I've got an incredible bond with him. Reading what you do with Riley keeps me assessing my own training to see if I left any holes. I can't wait to hear the next phases!

  10. Happy Birthday, Riley!! He is a handsome young man and I have a feeling that first ride will be just perfect.

    The best thing is that you have brought him along yourself, instilling in him all the confidence in you he will ever needs. You have many years of good riding ahead of you both.

  11. Happy Birthday, Riley!! I am sure he will turn out to be a super-star. I am in the same boat with mine, she just turned three on May 14th, and I have high hopes for her!

  12. Really enjoy the Riley blog! I am breaking my 3 year old right now (bought him when he was 1) and it is such a joy to watch the progression as he learns to negotiate being a riding horse (hopefully an eventing horse in a couple of years!).


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