Sunday, September 26, 2010

The story of Halawa Moon aka Harley

Halawa Moon was foaled on March 23, 2002 on a Thoroughbred farm in Maryland, and like in a game of "telephone", his name transformed into Harlequin's Moon, and then shortened to Harley. John and I looked up his tattoo number on The Jockey Club's website to get the rest of his story.

Halawa Moon sold at the Keeneland Sales for $50,000. He was resold a couple of times as a two year old, racing at Pimlico, Aqueduct, and finally in claiming races at Suffolk Downs. This was probably where he went lame and acquired his two knobby front knees. Harley's racing days ended and he wound up at a stable in Portsmouth NH, then a stable in Epping NH, and finally to us, his "forever home".  I look at his bloodlines and say, "Wow!" He's got some famous ancestry flowing in his veins: A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Northern Dancer, Raise A Native, Bold Ruler, Buckpasser, Native Dancer, Nashua, Nijinsky II, Swaps, Round Table, & Hyperion. And those are just the names I know! Harley made some money in his time, but I wonder how his behavior was on the track. Did he load into the gates poorly, hence all his left-handed whirling? He's certainly got a competitive streak, and he likes to be out front when there's a gang of us riding together (unless it's his best buddy, Echoe). And it's probably from boredom at the track that he began his habit of cribbing.

Poor Harley...he's barn sour, afraid to leave the safety of his home and herd. But once I ride him far enough away from the barn, he's fine. Oh, he has his "Thoroughbred moments" and he half-heartedly tries to turn back sometimes, but with an insistent leg and seat, I can usually get him headed where I want without too much tooth grinding (his way of letting me know he's not happy), and sidestepping.

With the days getting shorter, I have to rush out to the barn right after work to get in a ride. I rode home the other night with only a faint glimmer on the horizon. By the time I left the barn, the full moon was shining over the fields.

The longer we own him, the more I can see why he needs an owner with a lot of patience,  willing to work with him. He's an anxious horse when not with his herd, afraid of unusual things he's never seen, and needs his confidence boosted consistently. He can be a bit of a handful with the cool weather and a few days off, but I think, like anything good, it will just take time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Out in the woods

Harley's Labor Day weekend was another breakthrough. Sunday, John (mounted on his bike) and Callie joined me for a hack in the woods. We unexpectedly hooked up with some folks from North Point on their horses. It became a joint ride, but one that Harley was a bit fractious on. He didn't want to be last in group! Must have been his former racing career coming out in him. He jigged quite a bit, and really wanted to run a couple of times. We had only one minor incident; Harley backed into the branches, knocking my hunt cap off, and bruising my forehead. Needless to say, we went shopping that afternoon for one of those newfangled helmets with a harness! Callie was beat. I don't think she's gone that far ever with us. Once she hit her bed, she was down for the count.
Yesterday, co-boarder Michelle and I rode again with the North Point gang. This time I put Harley out front and he was a dream! He just wanted his spot, with his gang nearby. We roamed the woods for two hours and had a blast.
This week, I need to get him back out by the fake deer, and to get in a good long canter to release that energy (I sound like Cesar Millan). He does like stretching his legs.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Yikes! It's a fake deer!

Poor Harley, he was doing so well on our trail ride; past the scary house, past the guys shooting guns, through the water, past the scary gate and the wild turkeys. But it all came apart when he saw the deer target in a back yard. Spinning left, then right, lunging up the trail, I came unglued. Thankfully, I held onto the reins and didn't lose my horse! After dusting off the trail debris and pine needles, I led him past the scary deer, past the scary camper, the scary wood splitter, back to the safety of his barn. Whew!