Apalache King is a super handsome, five-year-old @16.3H bay gelding now in LOPE’s training initiative program. King came straight to Poseidon Sport Horses from Retama racetrack — and he is now in a 30-day assessment there with Laura Whitfield. He will be up for adoption soon — we just want to get to know him better and begin the next phase of his training first.
King won a single race but then seemed to lose all interest in running. His race trainer decided it was time for him to find a new job, so she donated him to LOPE. King is sound without injuries — and looks like he will be a terrific prospect for many disciplines.
Because he came directly from the track to Poseidon, Laura decided it was best to go slow and give King some time to relax during his transition to a new career. King is one of those geldings who is “all boy” — we can easily picture him with a baseball cap turned backwards, walking around the UT campus with a Longhorn jersey on.
In contrast to Silver Red Bird, King is much more confident about the world. He is pretty sure that he is super handsome — and that everyone should pet and admire him (because he is kind of a big deal, lol). We love horses that already think well of themselves! It says a great deal about King’s foundation training as a youngster, as well as his handling at the track.
Where King’s confidence can sometimes go a little overboard is during the haltering process. King tried to tell Laura many times that he didn’t need to put his head down for her while she haltered him — he was much too busy doing other important, “guy” things to pay attention to silly stuff like halters.
Laura changed his mind about that pretty quickly — but for the first couple of sessions together, she and King had to work quite awhile on the polite way to be haltered. King soon decided that Laura had a point about all of this — and he now is courteous and respectful of the process.
As a young racehorse fresh off the track, King benefited greatly from this kind of simple (but extremely important) groundwork training. Laura discovered that King had the stereotypical racehorse way of leading — which meant that he did the leading, instead of the human on the other end of the lead rope. King also assumed that “leading” was the same as “crowding closely into Laura” — which took another series of quiet, steady sessions to explain the difference to him.
Throughout all of the work, King was cheerful and happy about himself. During the round pen work, King carried his head high initially (just the right position for galloping down the track). But in spite of the racing head position, I couldn’t help noticing that King actually was cantering quite slowly — he really wasn’t truly interested in running rapidly around the pen.
King showed nice movement with easy, ground covering strides. He seemed to have some nice action in his hindquarters — but with his head up, he wasn’t really engaging behind fully. We also noticed that King wasn’t particularly tight in his shoulders — which is a nice plus.
With Laura’s encouragement, King began to drop his head occasionally during the free lunge sessions. Whenever he did that, a remarkable change occurred in his movement. His shoulders immediately loosened, his hind end engaged more and his movement went from nice to downright elegant and flashy. King doesn’t seem to be carrying much tension or brace in his body — so as he learns how to carry himself for a job other than racing, his body can respond without resistance from old muscle memory patterns.
King is athletic, well-built, tall and kind-hearted. Although he is young and green, his emotional calmness and physical aptitude makes him a wonderful, willing project. He will be a terrific horse for someone and we are enjoying watching him progress with Laura.
King will be up for adoption soon. He is up-to-date on coggins, shots and dental work. In addition to other of his other marvelous qualities, King has awesome feet — he is currently barefoot and doesn’t require any special shoeing. If you are interested in more information about King or would like to visit him, please contact LOPE.