Monday, October 27, 2008

Hunter -- 10/25/08

Lacy came to see Hunter again today. Woohoo! They are the perfect couple. Mom Tammi brought along Lacy's daddy's saddle from when he was a little boy. It fit to a T. They will get it reworked for safety at a tack place and it will last for years. Hunter got ponied by stable old Joe on a long line and was great. He is so so so ready for a trail ride. They left his bridle and bit with me to condition him to it. You know, I'm just going to let pictures tell the story.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hunter -- 10/20/08

Emily and Mikayla came for training again. They are the girls that are adopting Megan and her unborn foal as well as another horse. First it was Emily who was really into this, but Mikayla has shown genuine natural talent as well! These gals could do horse shows if they want. They are going to be the perfect horse owners.

Tonight the girls learned about hay, saddling, and how to hold the reins in such as way as they are really in control of the horse. Hunter watchers, there is something coming up about him. There is more..keep reading! So Mikayla goes upon Keisha and Emily on Joe.

Keisha, The Most Selfish Horse in the World, knows that an untrained rider can't/won't make her do anything, so she will do as she pleases which is usually eat and roam about at various speeds to avoid doing work. A trained rider will not let her eat while working. Mikayla learned very nicely to make her stand quietly and not eat. Big stuff for the novice! For the first time Mikayla is in control. Emily did the same on Joe. I was thrilled when we played a type of Simon Says while the girls had the horses go and whoa on command. They did very very well indeed. Then they got to the arena-ish area and they worked the oval in both directions and did serpentine weaves, all the while oscillating their hands in time with the horses' head movements. From the very slow amble, they each moved to a fast walk. Those girls are so cute. They weren't sure if they were running or not at this stage.

I had started the lesson with the caution that we would not do anything as exciting as trot, but I changed my mind once I saw how brilliantly they caught on. Joe is incredibly smooth and does not need to be posted, so they young horsewomen took turns and learned to trot for the first time. Wow, these gals are naturals.

In the meantime, Hunter was not happy about being ignored. He could care less about the other horses - he wanted those girls! Folks, I know horses enough to know the diff. He ran along the fence, not in the way that a separated horse does...and Hunter is independent enough not be herd bound AT ALL...but was showing off! I laughed at him - he must be used to that by now. He was trying to show his moves so we would take him out to play, I guess. That little nut. I can't wait till Saturday when Lacy will come to ride him.

Hunter -- 10/19/08

This isn't really training, but I want everyone to know he's still getting experience.Hunter got his first haircut today. Honestly, this little horse is so easy. I didn't even halter him. He just stood in the field while I gave him his first big boy bridle path. Ooo he is a doll. The trim is pretty much western and he is looking good in it. However his forelock still stands on end and makes him look a bit like a troll doll. Better get out the Cowboy Magic. Oh, and I did some ear trimming too - still with no halter. He stood still so I would just keep touching him.

Later the farrier came over and was doing everyone's feet in the field while Hunter got to roam and supervise the proceedings. He is a bit of a pest at times. Especially if everyone else is tied. He has earned the nickname 'pigboy' because of his addiction to food. But his affection for grub has made him figure out his own special whistle for him to come to supper. And he is pretty good about his name now. It is usually said like this: "Hunter! get out of that fence,food,other horses face!" And he can get along with any horse. The new thoroughbreds accept him, and even Ike is now grazing nose to nose with him at times. He is the perfect horse to enter into a new herd.

Anyway, as the farrier was bent over with 5 other horses, Hunter kept coming over checking out tools, getting underfoot, and even trying to give the poor farrier a wedgie. I should have tied him, but I could not take time to get his halter out of the house since I was the handler. Anyway, it was funny... and for what I am now paying the man, even though he is earning every dime, I thought a wedgie for entertainment wasn't too much to ask. Hey, farrier! If you are reading this, just kidding! Please come back in 6 weeks. Please, pretty please? Seriously, the farrier is a friend and as a friend he did me a favor: he did a fake shoeing job on Hunter. Fake hammering, fake clinching, feet on the hoof support. Hunter got a grade of A for his age and experience. Y'all just don't know how much I love this little horse!

Hunter -- 10/17/08

Dear Hunter fans,

Hunter has not been forgotten nor neglected. I have just been working a lot of extra shifts lately. Sorry for the late update.

Emily and Mikala came over and are learning quickly to be horse owners. Emily rode Hunter while being ponied. Keisha, the Most Selfish Horse in the World, was the leader while Mikala rode Joe, AKA, Keisha's Butt Protector. The lesson of the night was oscillation with the reins.

Well, things went well for a while, Joe following Keisha like a good pack horse and Hunter almost crowing with delight at his inclusion. Girls were delighted, too and were doing their lessons ever so well . Then Keisha had her fill of Hunter waddling nearly underfoot despite his being a good boy and she kicked him. Hunter darted to the side (not the first time this impetuous kid gotta kick from one of the herd) and off came Emily. Oh, she cried from the betrayal! She was doing everything right and still she was unhorsed. Brave little girl. She got back up ---on Keisha! Brave parents. They held back from rushing to the scene and allowed the old saying 'if you fall off the horse get right back on' be carried out. Brave, brave parents! They keep coming back even though this has cost them money, time and eight stitches.

Hunter licked his wounded pride for a few seconds and returned to gawking at the whole process with fascination. I swear he is getting broke to ride just by watching all this. Lacy, you lucky girl. You are getting the smartest, cutest horse in the world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meghan -- 10/13/08

This isn't exactly a training post for Meghan. The family interested in adopting Meghan and her foal came out to meet her tonight. Meghan is going to be E's horse, but M immediately started braiding that beautiful mane. This wasn't posed, E just felt like laying down and hugging Meghan. I think it's love.

Meghan stood still for all the attention being lavished on her and never made an impatient move. Meghan will stay here until the foal is born, then when both are ready they'll go to live with E and M. The foal will be M's 4-H project. Meghan deserves to have two girls doting on her and we're so happy that she's got a good home to look forward to!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hunter -- 10/6/08

Megan's future forever family came over tonight again. They are such darling girls. The nice rescue lady and man came over to meet them. I pleaded to have NRL (nice rescue lady) join the lessons. I will limit it to just Hunter's part in this delightful session.

E. and M. worked on ground work with Hunter and Joe, our old kid trained Appy. They did very well. I agree with NRL that Hunter is bored with leading and is ready to move on. But not yet with these particular kids. Too early for them with a horse under training.

Then NRL saddled Hunter and off E. and Hunter went on their lessons. I learned a lot from NRL here in the last 2 days, as well. I am going to copy her on a bunch of stuff. I am so enamored with Hunter, I could bore you all with a copious report of every little thing they did...and maybe have done so in the past. However, for those following his progress, I will spare you. Everything went well and Hunter seemed to fall asleep half the time. He is so content. He was born to be fussed over by what I am now calling 'his ladies'.

By the way, he is trotting on his own on the lunge line. He seems to think this splendid fun. When NRL says I am allowed work him at a trot, and/or canter, we will move to that because he seems to be coming into his own on athletic ability. I honestly think this fellow could be anything his owner wanted - trail horse, English pleasure, junior barrel racer, jumper, Western pleasure - as smart and gifted as he is. And apparently he is going to turn into quite a hunk, as well!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hunter -- 10/5/08

WVFarmgirl here. I'm doing Hunter's post for yesterday since I was there to witness firsthand the power of the pony, who is quickly becoming a non-pony because he's growing SO DARNED FAST!!! Remember the pic of his butt about 5" above his withers? Not anymore! His front end has pretty much caught up with the butt and he's also filled out. Now he looks more like a quarterhorse than a quarter of a horse. But he still has that babyish charm that makes you just want to fawn all over him and shower him in kisses. Which is pretty much what happened yesterday.

Anastasia's niece brought over a couple of friends and all of them are in the sixth grade. Need I say more? There was much fussing over Hunter, grooming, smooching, and general girlish silliness. Hunter loved every second of it.

All pictures were taken on Anne's camera and I'm waiting on her to send the rest my way. So for now I just have this one:

Can we say absolutely adorable???? Hunter did very well and is starting to associate leg squeezing with moving forward. I also had the girls work on WHOA while rotating back on their butt and squeezing gently on the reins. Hunter is still being ridden with a bitless bridle for now, but he was still a very good boy and an incredibly quick learner. Initially there was some hesitation when one of the girls would try to turn him, but once I showed them how to open that rein and pull out to the side instead of pulling back, he picked up on it a lot quicker. Eventually they had him turning away from me as I was leading and doing circles with me on the outside. As usual, Hunter took everything in stride and didn't get upset about anything that was done to him. Even when one of the girls got a leg up and floundered around a bit trying to right herself on him, he stood his ground with slack in the lead rope like he knew exactly what was going on and wasn't going to let him bother him.

I think he's ready to be turned loose with saddle and girl, but only in a small area and at a walk. At this point I think keeping him on the lead rope is old hat for him and he's looking to move on to something more challenging. What a good boy!!!

Classy -- 10/5/08

Classy went with Kita and Willow over to Anastasia's yesterday for a three hour trail ride. I was planning on riding her myself, but because I'm incredibly selfish and didn't want anyone else riding Kita, Anne rode Classy instead.

Classy was an absolute angel for most the ride. The only problem Anne had with her was when we stopped on the trail for a slight emergency. Classy didn't want to stand still, but backing up and turning circles seemed like fun. Anne handled it very well, and eventually we were on our way again. Classy is incredibly sensitive to the bit and if Anne kept the slightest contact on her mouth Classy would flap her bottom lip and chew nervously on the bit. But once there was slack in the reins the chewing stopped, the head dropped, and all was well in the world of Classy. She also got upset if Keisha the Couch was riding behind her. I can't say that I blame her, Keisha makes all my horses nervous if she's behind them. She just has this horror movie stalking thing that none of my horses trust. No matter how fast they go, Keisha is always ambling along behind with that "I'm the alpha mare and I want to kill you" look on her face.

The other problem that Anne encountered was one that I expected from a STB off the track. Classy has no canter. She'll trot fast enough to keep up with cantering horses, but she doesn't understand the concept of a third gait. This is something I dealt with when I brought Semi home all those years ago and just haven't started working with Classy on it yet.

Mid-way on the ride, we stopped by the river for some R&R and tied up all the horses (which is why I like to keep halters on in the first place!). Classy was just as calm and quiet as everyone else and stood quietly for the 30 or so minutes that she was tied. Isn't she just beautiful??? I love this mare. :)

Hunter -- 10/3/08

Hunter met his new family (we hope we hope we hope) for the first time today. Mom Tammi brought 7 year old daughter, Lacy, for a get acquainted meeting. Turned out Lacy had picked out her outfit for the meeting days ago. I am sure Hunter thought she looked very pretty.

As they drove past the field on arrival, Lacy spotted Hunter from his training blog pics. Talk about meeting over the internet! They immediately got along quite well. Tammi took a great number of pictures and will be sending them along soon. Hunter was fascinated with the camera. We all had a great laugh about how he either was mugging for the camera or wanting to nose it... while it rested on Tammi's chest. We went through our paces to show off how good he is. Lacy got on his back and Tammi led him about. Tammi had had horses in her past so she was quite prepared to handle Hunter.

It was incredibly tender, how Lacy and Hunter touched one another and breathed each other's scents. Hunter is still growing, dear readers. Apparently he is making up for lost time from before he was rescued. He has the possibility of growing for another 4 years or so. Please please please let these two grow up together. Hunter and Lacy. Lacy and Hunter. Has a nice ring to it don't you think?

Hunter -- 09/30/08

The intrepid family showed up today. Hurray! I was afraid that after the hurt leg they would be scared off. But brave mom sat in a lawn chair and enjoyed the proceedings.

Hunter's job today was to be tied and led and otherwise wait and be calm. He did this splendidly while the family learned horse care facts and balance on another horse. Some days that is what will be expected of him - to chill while other things are going on.

The family that gets him will be lucky. He is such a good boy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hunter -- 09/28/08

Today was the worst day ever for Hunter and me. I am typing with a dislocated finger because of our travails. My name must be Earl, because I guess Karma caught up with us to even out yesterday's great day. Either that or it is Newton's third law. Or maybe the second law of thermodynamics. They are all in effect today.

It went like this:

The family that will probably adopt Meghan has hired me to train them all to be good horse owners. Especially, they want their two girls, age 10 and 14, to become competent riders. So they all came, Dad, Mom, the sisters. After I trained the girls to safely brush Hunter and move about a horse properly, I went to the house to get a penicillin injection for mare Keisha, who has been 'snotting' lately. I thought it was a unique opportunity for them to learn about giving an injection. I was gone only moments and the mom comes limping up, white-faced and bleeding from a gash in her leg. She had run against a metal stake that held a newly planted tree. I grabbed the first aid kit and Scott dashed off to get my sister the nurse. She returned to dress the wound to ready the lady for the hospital. Keisha did get her shot, one child did get to sit on her, but it was not the joyful day I had hoped for. The poor mom ended up with 8 stitches.

I thought my mind was on working with Hunter after they left, but I guess it was distracted by the accident. I made a huge mistake. As I worked Hunter for the first time on the lunge on his near side, I snapped the whip to keep him moving when he tried to stop. Didn't touch him, just unthinkingly treated him like one of the seasoned horses. SwoooooTOCK! went the whip. In the air went Hunter. He banged his nose hard on the stud chain, jerked the lead out of my hand and took off.

I never, ever wind the lead around my hand and I didn't this time either. It was a freak thing. I was holding the end of the lead (I had been lunging him only at a walk on a long lead strap, not a lunge line) and the end that had been folded over and sewn somehow came through my hand with such force as to dislocate my left middle finger at the last joint. I have a form of arthritis that attacks my cartilage. Had this happened to a normal person, I don't think they would have been staring at a finger that now canted at a 45 degree angle at the tip. In the meantime Hunter is desperately wanting back in the fence and stomping on the lead, thus banging his poor nose even more and running like the devil wanted a bite out of him. So I grabbed the finger, reset it...ow ow ow ow OW.... and walked after the poor boy.

I never chase a horse. Keisha would just think it was jolly fun. Joe, our old Appy would run because he would be trying to escape whatever I must be escaping from. Ike would run because he would think he was going to get a beating based on his past. No horse I ever met responds well to running after them. So I went slowly to catch him. Oh poor little Hunter! Whatever happened to you that made you think I would kill you if you got caught? I have never been anything but kind to him and you would have thought I beat him hourly as panicked as he was. I finally was able to get him and he was visibly relieved.

We could NOT end this on such a bad note. I led him back to the training area where we continued with lunging for a few minutes without further incident. I then went to things he knew well so there would be excuses for lots of petting and praise, finally leading him into the pasture where he did everything politely. I released him and he literally thundered back to the herd and the comfort of his own species.

It was then I saw blood on me. Whose blood???? The poor lady's, or Hunter's or mine? I haven't figured out whose. I am a reasonably competent horsewoman and I still got hurt. The lessons? Keep first aid supplies handy;you never know when you will really need them. When things go badly in training - and they will sometimes - always drop back to a topic in which the horse can reach success so you end on a good note. Never have your mind on something else when training a horse....even a very good horse. That is the lesson I forgot.