Phil's Courage - Don't miss Phil's
Journal NOW FOR SALE
Phil's Courage with his second mom since
leaving the track. "Phil" made a successful transistion to sport
horse with the help of Kara Hoefer. Follow their detailed journey
and learn the importance of ground work on our sister site: www.trainingOTTBs.com.
August 27, 2008 - Phil's Courage is FOR SALE
I have very exciting news. Trafalgar Square Books is interested
in publishing Phil's
Journal. I just received the format to submit
the journal and am busy gathering photos. I have published before
(dental research in peer reviewed journals) and know this is
a very lengthy process. I receive tons of email from fans of
Phil's Journal. Thank you for your help.
Phil is officially for sale now. He is ready for a new home. I
have him prospect priced to make him accessible to most
budgets....just in time for upcoming cub hunting! I have lots of
pictures and videos of my 10 year old daughter riding Phil for
Contact info: Sales: 803-315-9172 Dan (Cell)
Training: 803-315-0506 Kara (Cell)
Thanks again for what you do! I know it is time consuming.
Elizabeth's Note: Phil's
Courage's Journal is on our sister Web site: www.trainingottbs.com It
contains great information on working with any horse not just OTTBs.
May 22, 2008
This past weekend Phil participated in his third show. He
brought home ribbons in Halter, Showmanship, Hunter Hack, and Equitation
classes. He even participated in pole bending and cloverleaf
barrels for fun. My daughter and I showed together. Phil and
I were no competition to my daughter, Paige, age 10, and her
dynamic pony, but we had so much fun showing together. They are
on track to take home the Year End Circuit Championship for the
second year in a row. Phil was a complete gentleman and was on
his best manners. Phil is doing so well I may let my daughter
start him over cross rails in her lessons. Paige earns money
riding and showing my prospect horses, so she is anxious to ride
I have had so much fun learning, teaching, and working with Phil
I see another Bits & Bytes Farm prospect horse in my future!
Please, read Phil's
Journal to follow his progress. He now has
learned how to bow and shake! I have a daily entry up to day 30
and then I started a weekly entry. I really think I have tackled
some great issues with Phil that everyone who has ever purchased
a horse may have encountered some or all of the issues discussed.
I even discussed some taboo issues that the big name traveling
clinicians won't talk about such as sensitizing and hobbling.
give you a chuckle I will tell you that Phil enjoys performing
tricks best of all. It isn't due to the treats because he doesn't
always receive a food treat.
May 12, 2008
I received a book written about Charasmatic (1999 Kentucky Derby
winner), Phil's Courage's sire, for my birthday. It is titled
Strides Before The Wire and authored by Elizabeth Mitchell.
Charasmatic has a really fascinating story behind him. He would
have won the Triple Crown in 1999 if he didn't break his leg
at the Belmont. He still came in 3rd with a broken leg. Now,
that is incredible.
Phil is doing wonderful with his training. I have been continuing
my journal entries on a weekly basis. He is even learning how to
bow and shake. Phil is entered in his 3rd show next weekend.
Success Stories for Phil's Courage from his new mom Kara
Phil’s Courage was purchased as a Prospect
Horse from the
Bits & Bytes Farm Web site in 2007.
His first owner off-the-track was Christa Mooney of Charlotte,
NC. Unfortunately, Christa had a family health issue and a lack
of time to continue “Phil’s” off-the-track training.
Christa loved Phil’s Courage very much and she did a good
job of letting him down and getting him started as a sport horse.
As time went on Christa had less and less time to work with Phil’s
Courage and he started taking control.
He was fortunately purchased by Kara Hoefer who has the experience
to unschool some of the bad habits that “Phil” had
picked up in his leisure time while Christa was busy caring for
her son. I have asked Kara to give us a Journal of Phil’s
Courage’s training. She uses common techniques promoted by
most “Natural Horseman” trainers. It is our hope that
our reader’s will see how these techniques work to make your
horse respect you on the ground and when mounted. It is important
to have patience and not rush through the process. Kara explains
what she is doing and more importantly why. You can follow along
and see the results. Enjoy and learn! Start at Ground
Training - Day 1 Phil’s Courage under the Page listings. Be
sure to read Day 1 and Day 14 if your time is limited.
Phil's Courage has been SOLD!
April 8, 2008
If anyone is curious about our breeding operation
please, visit our Web
site. We breed
for the blue roan color with old time, AQHA historical bloodlines.
Just like I think Phil looks like a bay giraffe, many people will
think our stud looks like a bulldog.
April 6, 2008
I didn’t want to take up your time with a phone call, so
I thought an email that you could read on your time would be easier.
I just wanted to let you know I brought Phil’s Courage home.
Here are my thoughts: Phil
has several “holes” in his education that need some
work. I can see how someone could feel scared and overwhelmed without
someone showing them how to become Phil’s
much needed Alpha. I feel Phil doesn’t care to acknowledge
a human and seeks eye contact with other horses. He is pushy and
rude on the ground. He is heavy on the end of the lead. His trailer
manners are awful. He threatens to bite and kick when he feels
pressure; I do not tolerate this behavior at all. All in all, I
see a good horse trying to figure out how to fit into the human
world. I have had horses with me for training in the past that
had these same issues. If anything, he is going to get a good
education with (I use the term with because we are a team) me because
I am a teacher/mentor with high standards and I am always consistent.
He will be a good mount in a couple of months (notice I did not
prescribe 30 days) for someone if they can continue to be his mentor
and coach, not his buddy.
Phil had a rough welcome to my farm with a ½ hour intense
ground work session right off the trailer. In order to set us up
for success with our next encounter he had to get an idea of “my
space and his space.” His answer is to shut down when he
doesn’t know what is asked of him. He just plants his feet.
He did finally become soft on the end of the lead, stayed out of
my space, and briefly acknowledged me. This is a good start. He
also was sent to the end of the paddock while I poured feed and
brought out hay. This was a new concept for him. My husband always
says he is going to video tape me and send it to America’s
Funniest Videos because I squeal, snort, and kick my feet out behind
me like a mare. This is my signature move and it never fails. Maybe,
I do spend too much time watching the broodmares.
The moral of
my story is: not all horses are perfect. Most of them have behavior
issues. It is ok to ask for help from a trainer. Trainers seek
help from other trainers all the time! It takes years of hands-on
work with all sorts of horse behaviors and learning styles. You
learn from watching RFD TV.
all kinds of tips, humorous stories, and a good dose of reality.
I don't follow any one particular method because just like my college
students, every person/every horse has a different learning style.
I mainly use Buck Brannaman, however I add John Lyons, Parelli
(a little, not my favorite, but he is a marketing genius), Chris
Cox, and Clinton Anderson. I have participated in many of these
clinics over the years. Oh, how could I forget riding with Ray
Hunt! I only use three teaching tools: the rope halter/14ft lead
yacht braid, a sweet iron snaffle (hence the name of my farm),
and patience (the most challenging tool).
Elizabeth's Notes: Phil's
a new mom! Congratulations to Kara Hoefer of Sweet Iron Farm of
Swansea, SC. Sweet Iron Farm is the home of Blue
Steel Quarter Horses. Kara sells foundation Quarter Horses.
I have asked her to keep a diary of training Phil's
Courage. Her insights should be interesting coming from a Quarter
Horse expert. We hope to share these with everyone looking for
new training tips to help them with their OTTBs. We are strong
believers in good ground manners. A well behaved horse on the ground
will respect his rider and do what is asked without question.
June 14, 2007
Phil and I continue to have a good time together. The other day
him in from the pasture and he came sprinting about as fast as
would carry him...he knows I keep carrots in my pockets at all
times. He of
course came to a screeching halt just in time. I think he thought
I also lunged him over a few small verticals the other day, just
curiosity to see what he would do. He took them with ease and
without batting an eyelash.
As far as brushing goes, dare I say that he actually LIKES it
now??? I do
think I saw his upper lip quivering the other day!
I do want to tell you that I officially have him
for sale now, only because
of my son's health issues and my lack of time now that I am dealing
that. I do love Phil, but feel that he needs someone who can spend
time with him. Time I just don't have right now I would part with
him for a great price if it was someone connected to
the Bits & Bytes Farm "family" because I would really
rather see him go to
someone who knows the farm and what you are doing to help these
main concern is that he goes to a GREAT home. Please let me know
know of anyone who would be interested and, of course, put the
word out if
you want to on the website. Until then, Phil will continue on his
even if it is only once or twice a week at this point. I think
I had sent
you some pictures last month, but if you need me to resend some,
know. I am not the best photographer, but I try to get you some
Hope all is well at the farm.
Christa Mooney & Phil
June 12, 2007
Hello! I couldn't remember which pictures I had sent you so I attached
few more that I took the other day. I haven't been able to do much
due to some family medical issues that I mentioned in a previous
Phil is always the same whether I ride him every day or once a
remains calm and cool and as sweet as can be. However, since I
am only able
to ride him once or maybe twice a week, his training is slow.
I am coming to terms with the fact that I am going to have to sell
someone who will be able to devote the time he needs to train him.
feel so guilty that I cannot be that person right now. My son is
much more of my time right now than anticipated and of course I
have to be
there for him. I'm not sure when and if things here will get back
to "normal". Of course until I part with
Phil I am spending as much time with
him as possible. He is moving so much better now that his back
is not as
stiff. He actually likes being brushed now (his lip was actually
and was that a horsey smile??) when I was using the stiff brush
Please let me know if you have anyone who would be interested
purchasing this wonderful horse. I love him very much and just
want to see
him find the right place with the right person.
I hope all is well at the farm.
May 23, 2007
Hi! Here are some pictures of Phil. He is doing great in the BIG
you can see. The gradual hills have been good for his balance and
he really enjoys being away from the ring for a little while. I
trying to ride him mainly in the field lately since he seems to
enjoy it so
much. I do need to find a riding buddy to go out with us though.
the kids around here like to gallop through the field and I'm not
want to be around them when they do that! At least not yet! Hope
all doing well! I will try to get some action shots next time.
Hi! I just wanted to give you another quick update on Phil. He
great! After receiving the registration papers from you I researched
breeder and found their website. I then wrote to them, not really
much, but to my surprise they responded the next day saying that
in fact, remember him and they would like to see him the next time
in the area! Mainly I had just wanted to know where he got the
Courage" since people usually name racehorses unusual names
and "Phil" just
seemed to have a story behind it. Sure enough, I found out that
born when a friend of the breeder was fighting a battle with cancer.
friend's name was Phil, so the foal was named after him.
Anyway, I have been cantering him and he is just
like a rocking horse, but
with a huge stride. He always picks up the wrong lead, but yesterday
pushed him along into the turn when he wanted to break to a trot
surprisingly, he effortlessly gave me a flying change in the front...going
to the right! His trot is getting better and he is going over the
poles nicely. When in the big ring, he works around all of the
without even looking at them. I haven't found anything that he
is afraid of
I cannot get many pictures of me riding him because I rarely
someone to take pictures. I will try to bring someone with me soon
you some more. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, "He
just soooooo cute!" Everyone thinks he is just adorable...and
I would like to inform you, though, that I am not sure how
long I will be
able to keep him. It kills me to think of letting him go because
LOVE him so much, but my son has neurological issues that have
worse in the past couple of weeks and those issues are keeping
working Phil like I need to be. My son is in need of constant
and between running to doctor's appointments and working with
him at home I
am beginning to feel that Phil is getting less of my time than
he needs and
I am not sure what to do at this point. I am not going
advertise him for sale yet because I am not wanting him to go
anyone. If you know someone who is looking for a wonderful horse,
put them in contact with me. Otherwise I will keep working him
and see what
happens with the time I have to offer him. At this point I would
love to be
selfish and keep him for myself no matter what, but I know that
right thing to do for Phil or for my son. It is a very difficult
for me to think about right now (as I am tears about it just
everyday), but I am taking it day by day.
I hope you are all doing well. I will send more
pictures as soon as I can
get them. I rode Phil in the BIG field today so maybe I can get
May 13, 2007
I just wanted to let you know that Phil's registration papers came
didn't realize he was only 5, just turning 6! Thanks for sending
The chiropractor came out last week and said that Phil's issues
TB off the track issues. She adjusted him, is having us do ground
only walking and trotting for a while. She will come back in
two or three
April 6, 2007
Here are a few pictures
of the kids with Phil. As I told you before, Phil loves
Jake's hair, but he also loves hugs and kisses from both
of the kids.
He continues to be very gentle. I rode him outside
of the ring a few times and he did great. Our barn is located
in a very wide open area and it is an extremely busy place,
with lots of kids so I was cautious in doing so, but he did
great and I look forward to a few short trail rides soon.
We have been walking over ground poles and really working
on turning. Transitions are good, but impulsion continues
to be a problem.
Jake hugs OTTB Phil's Courage.
I cantered him for the first time the other
day and he did fantastic. We have absolutely no issues with
leg contact. In fact I have to carry
a crop at times to get him to move forward because my leg
alone doesn't always do the trick. He is trained to my voice
fairly well though, so when I say "trot" he
will usually trot without much leg contact... until he starts
to tire. And forget half-halts...I say "walk" or "whoa" and
he does just what I ask. Pretty smart if you ask me.
He had his first day out in the rain last weekend. What a riot. I could
just tell that he was thinking "What the heck is this?!?!" He
ran a bit, then decided to roll. After that he went right back to grazing
forgetting all about the rain coming down.
Courage loves Jakes hair.
All in all, things continue to go well. We have a show
at the barn in May so I am eager to just walk him around
to see what he'll do with all the action of the day. I'll
let you know how it goes.
PS. I hope everyone can see from the pictures just how gentle
the TBs can be. People often get the wrong impression of them.
Elizabeth's Notes: Off-the-track Thoroughbreds seem to
love children. It may be because the horse is very sensitive and
can feel the unconditional love that children have for horses.
Read through some of the other Success Stories and you will see what
March 26, 2007
I love the pictures of Nancy riding Dream Pusher...I love to
see people having such a great time with their horses. I do hope
to visit your farm at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than
later. If I had a trailer I would bring Phil along!
Anyway, I have a couple of questions for you. First, do you have
any business cards that I can put in my barn to "advertise" your
farm?? We have LOTS of people coming in and out everday and we have shows
every other month so I thought it might be good to post some on the bulletin
board, if you think that would help.
Also, my other question is this...I viewed the video of Fizzi when
you first rode him and he was doing the same thing as Phil...head
kind of cocked to the side, zig zagging along, etc. Phil is getting
better, but do you have any suggestions as to what I can do that
might help? He is reaching for the bit and I am trying to push him from
behind into the bit, but the impulsion is not there. I think I will have
to start carrying a crop just to remind him that he needs to keep moving
Today he planted his feet and, if he could talk, I think he might
have said, "No, I really
think I've trotted enough today" = ) I kind of laughed to myself because
that actually gave me the courage to take him out of the ring for the first
time while riding him. The reason I say that is that our farm is WIDE open...very
inviting for a horse that might consider taking off!
What kind of bending
exercises do you normally do with these guys and what helps to
get them moving off your leg? I think things are going well for
us, but any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks a lot and I'll be in touch with that picture soon!
Elizabeth's Training Note: Most
OTTBs have a problem bending to the right. You cannot pull their
heads to the right or they will drop their shoulder and curl into
a turn. What you need to do is ride with a constant supporting
outside rein. Ask for the bend with the inside leg. Push the horse
to the outside rein. Make a "wall" of your outside rein and outside
leg. Open your inside rein and lift it. I find that carrying a
bat length whip is useful to tap on the should to help keep the
horse from dropping the shoulder. I also sometimes use spurs (with
a flat headed rowel that tickles) to get the horse's attention
with the inside leg. Yes, I said use spurs and a whip with your
is the most common problem with any ex-racer. Horse trainer, John
Lyon's talks about the "baby give" to get the horse bending
his head. Look it up. A brief description of this is to hold pressure
on one rein until the horse "gives" or bends to it. IMMEDIATELY
release the pressure. Wait a second and apply the pressure again.
Hold pressure on one rein until the horse "gives" or bends to
it again. IMMEDIATELY release the pressure. Repeat about 100 or
more times each side and soon you will have a horse that will give
you his head with the lightest of pressure. As you are doing this
at a walk, do not worry where the horse is going. Focus on being
quick with the release when the horse gives you the bend. What
the horse wants more than anything is for you to leave him alone
- he gets that when you release the pressure. The horse will give
you what you reward (release) for. After a few days the horse will
bend properly and then it is on to the next task - making him straight
March 25, 2007
Phil's Courage and his new mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.
Hi! I just wanted to give you an update on Phil.
So far he has been doing SO
well. Some of the issues we had in the beginning were that he was a bit head
shy, he HATED to be brushed, and walking through gates totally scared him
to death. After just a few short weeks he is no longer head shy
at all, he is tolerating being brushed (what a sport!) and the
gates are getting easier to navigate. He still hesitates, but with
some encouragement he will go through just fine.
He is loving the
farm life and, as you can see in the picture, he is turned out
in a paddock with electric tape and he does fine with it. I was
concerned that he would try to run through the tape, but he doesn't even
bother with it. Whenever I go to get him, he always comes right
to me eager to be loved on. He has had several baths in the wash
stalls and he cross ties for that just great. He now has shoes
on the front, but is barefoot in the rear for now.
going very well. He totally listens to voice commands now and
has no problem going both ways. He also has very nice lead changes!
My boy is sooo smart!
Everyone is curious where I got him from and of
course, I am happy to tell them! Since he is only 1.5 miles from
my house I get to see him every day. If I don't ride, I always
brush him and spend time with him. He loves when I bring my son
with me because, for some reason, he loves my son's hair! Phil
just rubs his muzzle through my son's hair and he'd do it for
as long as we'd let him. It seems to relax him, like a baby would
rub a blanket against their face. It is hilarious!
Getting ready to ride Phil's Courage for the first time.
We have only
been walking and trotting in the ring so far. I have been taking
the riding slowly with him...I have no reason to rush and I
don't want to overwhelm him. I try to make a goal for each week.
We have mainly spent the past week or two just working on extending
the trot and turning. Phil really likes going straight! The trainer
at the barn (seen in the picture helping me ride Phil for the
first time) has been very helpful and with his guidance I am
sure Phil will continue to do great! He is a very sweet and loving
I will write again in a month or so with another update!
Phil's Courage at home in Charlotte, NC.
March 5, 2007
Phil's Courage has made it to Charlotte, NC and his new mom - Chris Mooney. March 4, 2007
It was amazing how much calmer Phil was today after having a day to be outside in the pasture. Not that he was wild before, but he just seemed happier. Now, I was wondering how to approach the retraining. Is there a good book, website or anything to read about it? Should I begin him on the lunge (without saddle and then with one, maybe?) When do you introduce side reins (I noticed you had them on a horse in one of the pictures). Any thoughts would be appreciated. Hope to hear from you soon.
Elizabeth's Notes: There is lots of information on retraining off-the-track Thoroughbreds on our Web site. Start with my handouts from the Maryland HorseWorld Expo and then read the past Training Notes from Elizabeth. Many of the Success Stories on this site tell of buyers training experiences and I have added notes to many of them.
All buyers of our horses are welcome to call to discuss training approaches. We are sorry that we cannot offer this service to non buyers of our horses. Every horse is unique and you need to let the horse guide the speed of the training lessons.
We like to teach a horse to lunge first with a bridle and saddle. Side reins are not always necessary but they can be a good tool if used properly to help the horse learn to give to pressure on the reins. They work well with a horse that wants to go with his nose in the air. Never set them too short. They should only have an effect if the horse raises his head beyond a normal head carriage. The give positive feedback by going soft when the head is returned to a normal position.
The Internet is also a great source of free information. Be careful with forums where you get a lot of advice from people who are not that knowledgeable.
March 4, 2007
Well, Phil finally arrived at 2:00 am Saturday morning! I couldn't believe how BIG and beautiful he is. My most recent horse was a 14.3 hand Arabian so Phil seemed especially huge.
We took Phil to his stall and he immediately took a long drink of water and went straight to his hay without missing a beat. I felt confident he would be fine that night. It was funny because we went back to the trailer for about 5 minutes to pay Suzanne for bringing him and when we went back to tuck him in for the night he was completely covered in sawdust!
The next morning I went to see him at about 7:30. He was very happy and relaxed and I finally had time to give him some hugs and kisses on that fuzzy nose. I decided to turn him out in the round pen for the weekend until he got used to the sights, sounds and action at the farm. He danced all the way to the pen so on the way back in I did use the chain over his nose...not because he was out of control, but he is sooo strong! I actually decided to attach two leads. One with a chain and a one with a regular clip. It worked better because if he got quick I could just give a short tug on the chain and then use the other lead the rest of the time.
"Phil's" favorite thing to do is roll!
By Sunday evening I was barely using the chain anymore at all and his ground manners improved tremendously. Of course, as you can see from the picture, I quickly found out that his favorite thing to do is roll!!! It's always the very first thing he does when he goes out. Monica did say that he loves to do it and she was right!
Sunday evening we decided to turn him out with his pasture mate-to-be for a trial run. They did great and to be honest I wonder if I actually have a dressage horse on my hands. What a mover! He strutted his stuff for a while, but settled down and enjoyed being outside for about an hour before it got dark. Today he will have his shoes removed (he lost one in transit).
"My 2 year old daughter and 5 year old son came into the stall with me and he just nuzzled them softly." says "Phil's" new mom Christa Mooney.
So far so good and I just love him. He is soooo gentle and loving. My 2 year old daughter and 5 year old son came into the stall with me and he just nuzzled them softly. I will give you another update in a few weeks. I will be contacting you about how to approach this retraining since it's been a while since I had my last off the track horse. For now we are just letting him relax and be a horse for a week.
Thanks for everything! Oh, and Monica (Phil's former owner/trainer)was great...she called twice to check on him and she is sending me some other information about him. It's nice to know that she loved him so much and is so concerned for his well-being. Suzanne (hauler)was also wonderful and she took great care of Phil on his journey to NC!
Phil's Courage was a former Prospect Horse For Sale in January 2007. Click here to see his Prospect Horse For Sale photos.