Wednesday, November 16, 2016

making silk purses out of sow's ears

That's a very old expression (the google tells me it was already common in the 1500s) but it was recently put back on my radar in L. Williams' post discussing her horse shopping criteria.

The idea being: take something inferior or ugly and transform it into a thing of real value.

(Well. Actually the expression itself speaks to the difficulty or near impossibility of making said transformation a reality, but let's just put that inconvenient truth aside for now haha). 

i'm quite pleased with this as a 'before' pic!
L's application of this proverb to horse shopping, and ultimately horse training, really resonated with me. Especially as I have already been quite fond of amassing a collection of what will hopefully be "Before" shots of Mr. Charlie Murray.

That's not to say that Charlie is himself an inferior creature. Quite the opposite actually! Charlie has a lot of class represented in his pedigree, and has two full siblings who are graded stakes winners. He himself sold at auction for $100K as a yearling.

yup that's a race horse!
Tho his career earnings were ultimately less than what his connections had probably hoped for him, he was none the less estimated to be a worthy and valuable horse.

So. Again. Obviously I'm not trying to demean him, or claim that I'm starting with some awful, rough or unlikely raw material.

future elegant dressage horse?
But perhaps you still get my drift. Charlie was a race horse for many years. It's what he knows, it's how he goes. And it's going to take patience and dedication to reshape him into my preferred sport horse way of going (not least bc my own tools for reshaping him are decidedly amateur).

It's an exciting idea tho. An exciting vision. What will Charlie look like next spring? Or this time next year? Will he be a shrinking violet, slow to develop a new way of carrying and expressing himself? Or will he be one of those TBs for whom changes come quickly and easily?

Who knows!! Gotta stay tuned to find out I guess haha!!

In the meantime tho I'm getting my fix by checking out other horse transformation stories. Personal favorites include Elisa Wallace's mustang magic makeovers with Fledge (video 1 of the series here) and Hwin (video 1 here), Stacy Westfall's Jac series (play list here), and Doug Payne's video progression of Running Order.

Know of any other awesome transformation stories out there?

34 comments:

  1. Hmmm I should do something like this. But Charlie is entirely too cute to be compared to a sow's ear! Poor Charlie no love... ;)

    It will fun to see the changes.

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    1. ha yea, he's no piggy (unless food is involved, in which case all bets are off lol). but i am hopeful of seeing some big changes in him over time. we shall see! and yea you should definitely do a transformation post too!

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  2. I'm in the process with Bird, as he grows from weedy small fella (http://imgur.com/76w8BEF) to less weedy small fella (http://imgur.com/SHcDQAl). It's a slow-motion process -- distance between those pictures is three years. I'm excited to see what you and Charlie get done over the winter (with an Indoor!!) and I have plans (weather permitting) for working on my stuff sans indoor. My big exciting milestone here lately is "stretchy trot with back lifting and nose 3" above the ground for like five strides IN A ROW." Also, since it's NSN, I am working on my no-stirrup stuff including (so exciting) bending round circles in jog, rising jog, and balanced transitions including canter. (I am not up to no-stirruping a decent trot, honestly, and da Bird feels the stirrups being looped over and auto-resets to jog so that his fat, middle-aged owner doesn't get jounced onto the dirt. We're working on it.)

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    1. aw Bird has done so well this year - i actually just read your year in review post and there's so much to be proud of there! slo-mo process is definitely the name of the game tho. hopefully the fall and winter weather cooperate enough for your plans to continue working through the seasons!

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  3. Speaking from personal experience, Roger EXPLODED with muscle in the first 12 months I had him. He went from a scrawny, underweight, ulcer-y 4-year old OTTB, to something resembling a sport horse. His body completely changed and the transformation was amazing! In fact, the first winter I had him he wore a size 75 blanket that was swimming on him, but dramatically grew out of that and now fits comfortably into a size 78. You can never have enough "before" pictures, it's really neat to see the changes in the first year! Roger looks like a completely different horse than he did in March 2014, I'm sure Charlie will be the same way :)

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    1. i hope so too! charlie's in a slightly different boat from roger just by nature of their different ages and racing career duration (for instance, charlie's already quite packed with muscle that i'm hoping he will *lose* lol, tho there's lots of growth required in other areas). but i'm hopeful he'll be amenable to learning this new way of carrying himself that's so different from racing!

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  4. My before/after photos now are because I started with babies, so I feel like that's kind of cheating (cause duh, they grow up, haha). I really admire those of you who search out unseen potential in OTTBs and turn them into such fancy horses! Charlie is going to be a stunner in your "after" shots -- not that he isn't now, but you know what I mean. Such a good mind on him, you're shaping him into something very special!

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    1. thanks! i sincerely hope you're right! so long as he continues to enjoy the job even after it starts getting harder, i think we'll be in good shape. also tho i think you need to do some before/after posts on your girls too haha. i don't think i've seen many of their baby pics!!

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    2. Maybe I'll have to do a TBT with old photos. Ruby was yak-like at about a year old them pretty much immediately got horse-sized proportions and was pretty. I hid Cinna behind the barn for about 2 years...... haha.

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    3. Haha aww poor Cinna!! She turned out nicely tho ;). But yes - def do the TBT!!

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    4. Tomorrow is Thursday, isn't it? Well okay then! Off to raid my Facebook albums for ancient photos haha.

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  5. I just grabbed my bedazzler and went hog wild. Now you can't tell if C changed or not because you're blinded by his sparkles.

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    1. ha that may or may not be my interim plan for charlie lol (hint: it totally is)

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  6. True, he is more of a rose bud waiting to bloom rather than a sow's ear. The transformation is still going to be so fun to watch and I am super excited to see how it all goes!

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    1. thanks, me too! i'm so freakin excited to get him to dressage lessons too... but can't really do that until i've got the trailer situation figured out since he's still a two-person load job on my trailer, but that's an untenable situation for these lessons where i go by myself.... le sigh

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  7. It's an exciting process - to see how he changes and develops. Time will tell and I can't wait for a transformation post this time next year!!

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    1. time will definitely tell, and i'm willing to be a little patient (tho obvi i'm kinda excited about it lol)

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  8. i totally get what you mean - when i post transformation photos I definitely dont mean it as an insult to his past life. they just change a LOT and look fantastic. If you think charlie's big now just wait until hes got a topline and a booty :P

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    1. ha i'm actually avoiding thinking about that lol, since every time he trips right now my immediate thoughts go to "jesus that's a long way down!" but yea. he's already changing in some areas (alas mostly going into the inevitable ugly duckling in between place) but it's exciting all the same

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  9. Before and after photos are the BEST! They change so much post-track, sometimes quite dramatically in body and personality and sometimes slightly in more subtle ways. Charlie is going to be such a hunk though!

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    1. yup!! it's been really rewarding watching some of my favorite horses go through this transformation over the years - can't wait to see how charlie handles it too!

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  10. Its so hard to see what you have as its changing a lot of the time, that's why media is so great! I loved having all the media of Ramone because it reminded me when I was frustrated with him or something that things were still going on and changing!

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    1. yea i totally agree. it's actually making me sad that i don't have a ton of media even from our first couple weeks under saddle bc charlie has already changed so much from even then. for instance, i haven't had to beat him to get his feet unstuck in what feels like ages haha - now the crop serves it's true purpose of helping guide his limbs accordingly (and should probably be switched out to a dressage whip for more accuracy shortly)

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  11. This really resonates. Annie was younger and while I got her from the track she never actually raced so my adventure has been different in that way but she's a totally different horse than she was in the spring. She's filled out quite nicely :) I wish I took more pics of Annie to have comparisons but I slacked!

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    1. Annie definitely counts as one of the (many!!) ottb success stories in blogland, and gives me hope that charlie's got a good shot at turning out well and enjoying the job. fingers crossed!

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  12. He's so beautiful now! Although I'm sure he will be very beautiful as he develops!

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  13. They always keep us guessing, don't they? Charlie has always been a looker :)

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    1. yep - there's no crystal ball for seeing the future!

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  14. I think there is something really special about bringing a horse along

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  15. I'm a huge Elisa Wallace fan too. Not only is she an amazing rider/trainer, but I think she and hubby are very funny. I love their vlogs.

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