Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Milo – 06/25/10

Good old Milo.  His first session had absolutely nothing to do with training.  It was just merely entertaining.  For me, at least.

Renee tried longing him, but he knew he was bigger, stronger, and more patient than Renee.  She could chase him around all she wanted, he really had no interest in working.  She did get him to trot once or twice, but you could tell that he was scheming the whole time and trying to come up with a way to get out of work.  Typical pony!


It was really hot and humid that day, Renee had just been thrown into the fence by Mick, and I was running out of time and needed to leave soon.

I think Milo sensed that we weren’t really in the game and took the opportunity to yank Renee off balance, push the gate open with his chest… and leave.

That’s where the entertainment part came in. :)

Mick – 06/25/10

Last time Renee was out I decided it was time to get started with Mick and Milo.  I wanted to see how she did with complete greenies so that I can turn her loose on her own and not feel like I have to be standing there watching all the time.  That theory went down the drain when we saw how well Mick did.

He longed like he’d done it a hundred times before.  Not like he’d done it correctly, but like he’d been run in circles for hours on end by some idiot or another.  He didn’t understand WHOA or WALK, but he knew perfectly well what a circle was and was content to do a nice steady trot forever. 

Which made us wonder… hmmm.. he’s three, he’s been here for about 8 months… maybe he was broke as a two year old?  So Renee stopped him and put the saddle on him.  He didn’t care at all.  He acted like he’d been saddled all his life.  He stood perfectly still while she cinched him up, then stood still again while she stood on the mounting block and leaned over him.  He was just as good about taking the bridle and barely chewed on the bit at all. 

Combine that behavior with the small white spot on top of his withers, indicating an old sore from ill-fitting tack, and we thought for sure he’d been broke already.  Renee mounted up, eased into the saddle, and Mick stood there while she adjusted her seat and got her feet in the stirrups.  We were all smiles and congratulating ourselves on having yet another broke horse when Mick decided to take a couple of steps.

Once he started moving and felt this weight on his back moving with him, he exploded into a bucking whirlwind and sent Renee into the fence seconds later.  Then he tore around the ring like his tail was on fire, almost ran me over, tried crashing through the fence in several spots, and terrified poor Milo who was tied to the outside of the round pen patiently awaiting his turn.

We let him run himself out, then caught him and waited for him to calm down.  We walked him around the ring a few times, then back over to the mounting block.  We had to end on a good note, and his bucking frenzy was definitely NOT a good note!  Renee just stood on the block while I held him, patted the saddle, and leaned on him just a bit.  He did fine and was relaxed again, so we untacked him and let him go.

Next time, back to square one!  But at least now we know for sure what we’re dealing with. :)

Jasmine – 06/30/10

It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything with Jas thanks to everything going on around here this past month.  It was a beautiful day today and I found myself with some spare time, so figured why not?

I’ve longed her a few times since my last post, just to work more on forward motion instead of the lazy western jog she seems to like so much.  Today I introduced her to the saddle.

She quickly realized it was just another way for her to behave and get rewarded.  As I was putting on the saddle, she took a few nervous steps forward, but then stopped and craned her head around to me for comfort.  I scratched her head and let her know it was ok, then she stood still for me to adjust the saddle and tighten the girth.  I never cinch up a girth all the way on the first try, especially with greenies.  I put it up snug enough so it wouldn’t slide off, then walked her around the pen once.  Tighten another couple of holes, walk around the pen.  She took all of this in stride and the stirrups hitting her sides never phased her. 

Once the girth was tight, I sent her out on the line to walk and trot.  She’s still very lazy, but at least she’s trotting now instead of shuffling!  I smacked the saddle, shifted it from side to side, and put a little weight in the stirrup – she just looked around to see what I was doing. 

Next time I’ll introduce the bridle and do some long lining.  Hopefully, I’ll have her ready by the time the next person comes out to visit.  I don’t want to try getting on her with no one around to direct in the paramedics. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jewel – 06/25/10

It’s always a guessing game when these rescues show up with no history:  broke or not?  With Cinnamon and Jewel, we assumed they weren’t broke because of how skittish and shy they were.  We couldn’t have been further from the truth with Cinnamon, who turned out to be a well-broke mare once she learned to trust us.  It turned out that she was skittish and nervous because she was broke to ride and had had very bad experiences.  After that learning experience, I began re-thinking the Jewel situation. 

I was told that she had been a bucking bronco when the trainer tried to ride her at the previous rescue.  After that, they couldn’t even get a halter on her.  She had a serious injury to her chest that went all the way past her girth area, and looked like she had almost lost her front right leg.  It was healed when I got her, but I could still feel scar tissue in places, and you can still see where she’s missing flesh in her chest. 

There were a couple of things that I could guess from all of that: 

1) she could still have pain in that area when girthed up, or she was ridden before completely healed and is expecting pain when ridden.

2) she has serious trust issues, probably from being ridden/worked through the pain, or from the tending of the wound itself. 

3) she could have initially sustained the injury while under saddle

Renee came out Tuesday and just worked with getting a saddle on Jewel.  She was able to get it on her back, but not girth it.  Every time she’d move around to the off side, Jewel would panic.  So she just walked her around the round pen a few times while holding on to the saddle.  Jewel relaxed and we stopped, removed the saddle, and turned her loose. 

Today, getting the saddle on was much easier, and Renee was able to get her girthed up as well.  The girth didn’t seem to bother her, even when cinched up as tight as we could get it.  She was also ok with Renee being on her off side.  Getting the bridle on was a bit iffy, because Jewel has always been head shy since coming here.  It’s obvious she’s been either beaten about the face or ear-twitched.  It took some time and patience, but Renee got the bridle on.  Then she walked Jewel around the pen a few times and she was relaxed and not bothered by anything, including Renee putting weight in one of the stirrups with her hands. 

But as soon as Renee put a foot in the stirrup (no weight, just foot), Jewel exploded into a bucking frenzy!  That mare knew what was coming and wasn’t going to have any of it!  At first we thought maybe the girth was pulling on her old injury, but we could hang off the side of the saddle and she was fine.  It was just when Renee put a foot in the stirrup as if to mount, that Jewel exploded. 

I walked her over to the fence and told Renee to climb the fence from the outside and see if she could slide over instead…

Jewel stood still.  Perfectly still.

Renee didn’t touch the reins and kept her legs off while I lead Jewel around the pen.  Halfway around the first time, Jewel dropped her head, licked her lips, and gave a big sigh.  You could feel the tension drain out of her as she figured out that this wasn’t painful!

After just a few spins around the pen, I lead her over to the fence so Renee could dismount the same way she got on.  Jewel stood still.  Again.  We took the saddle and bridle off, gave her some praise, and turned her loose.  Instead of taking off for the barn, like I thought she would, she just moseyed down the hill at a leisurely walk… like she was content with her place in the world at last. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Maverick – 6/22/10

Today was all about getting Maverick out of the round pen.  This is only his third ride so we didn’t ask too much of him.  After a few minutes in the round pen, and Renee announcing that he had the steering thing down pat, I opened the gate and she took him out into the pasture.  The other horses were still locked in their standing stalls eating breakfast, so he was out there all by his lonesome. 

No, of course he didn’t care.  Need you ask?



He did manage to pull one of his brand new shoes, though.  I’ll be sure not to let Brannon live that one down any time soon.  

Next time, I’ll hop on a horse and we’ll take the happy little guy out on a real trail ride!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Maverick – 06/04/10

Are you tired of reading how amazing this pony is?  If so, you may want to go to another website now. 

Today was Maverick’s second ride, and his first ride with a bit and saddle.  The bit was a rubber-coated full-cheek snaffle and the saddle was a leather 15” seat western.  The girl, Renee, who rode him had brought her own saddle and breast collar, and even though the breast collar was too large, we put it on him anyway.  Might as well get him used to something like that… not that he even noticed it.

Mav took a few minutes to chew on the bit and wonder what it was in his mouth, then he got over it.  He learned to steer within minutes and WHOA was not a problem.

Renee said he moved away from her leg like he should, but sometimes getting him going took some mild kicking or some encouragement from me.  He acted like he’d been ridden 20 times before.  At one point, Renee looked over at me and said “I wonder if he backs”.  She was joking, but she tried it anyway…

It wasn’t just a fluke.  He backed for her three or four times.  Just a couple of steps, but still better than half the horses on this place that came to me already “trained”!

When we were done, Renee decided to get a little funky and see if anything could get Mav riled up.  He’s going to be a kid’s pony, and kids do some silly stuff sometimes, so it’s best that he’s prepared for that.

Is it just me, or does he look bored?  She did a 360 on the saddle and he never moved a muscle.  She slid off the right side, then remounted on the right side.  She leaned forward and rubbed her legs all over his sides and stomach.  He never moved. 

We ended with that, after only about 15 minutes of saddle time.  Renee is coming out again, and I think this time we’ll go for a short “trail ride” just over into the neighbor’s pasture.  I can’t wait!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thunder – 5/21/10

When Thunder arrived here he was scrawny, covered in hardened mud, and recently castrated.  He was hot wired from being confined to a stall for a few weeks, but was supposed to be a well-broke trail horse.  I don’t know about the “well” part of being broke, but he’s definitely been ridden before.

He was laid back to the point of being lazy.  It took some pretty good whacks on the butt with the longe whip to get him to move.  Once he got going, he did much better and just moved off Maggie’s leg. 


He also acted like he couldn’t figure out the bitless bridle.  The power steering was certainly not working today, but with a little more work he should progress quickly.

Maggie said his trot was wonderfully smooth and I could tell it was very easy to sit.  I can’t wait to get on him later next month and see what he knows!

Cinnamon – 5/21/10

When I took in Cinnamon she was terrified when her owners had tried putting a saddle on her.  They were told she was broke when they got her, but it was pretty obvious that she wasn’t.  She knew nothing about ground work and had very little interest in people in general.  She was skittish and difficult to catch.

Since coming here I’ve done nothing but feed and groom her.  She was pretty good for the farrier on the front feet, but horrible on the back.  She doesn’t even like her back legs touched, so we’ve been working on that now and again.  She’s much easier to catch now, and sometimes even allows me to catch her in the field even if I don’t come armed with cookies.  Her overall attitude has taken a major turn for the better and she seems much more relaxed and at ease with humans.

Maggie was here today, dressed to ride, and feeling pretty confident after the first Maverick ride.  I joked with her and said if she wanted a challenge after Maverick, to try riding Cinnamon. 

It was obvious that Cinnamon was just waiting for something to hurt.  When the girth got too tight her eyes widened and she danced around.  When it came time to put on the bitless bridle, we could tell she was expecting some big shank bit and curb strap – which got us both thinking that maybe she really was broke to ride.  

I gave Maggie a leg up since Cinnamon would not get close enough to the fence around Maggie – she knew what was up!  It was so obvious that this poor little mare has not had a good experience with people in such a long time. 

But once Maggie was on board, Cinnamon was fine.  She knew her job.  She knew her leg cues, had good brakes, and stayed relaxed throughout.


Maggie only rode her for a few minutes at the walk.  Just enough for Cinnamon to understand that she’s not going to be pushed too hard or hurt every time she’s ridden, and going for a ride can actually be a good experience.


After the June event, I’ll put some saddle time on her and see what she knows.  Maybe even go for a trail ride or two. :)

Maverick – 5/20/10

Maggie came up today to get on Maverick for me since she’s a very good rider and also very thin (I hate her).  She brought her bareback pad and bitless bridle with her, and her really sexy leopard print hard hat.  Maverick thought it was a big edible cookie.

We didn’t even longe Maverick first.  He was his typical easy going, laid back self and Maggie felt confident just hopping on.  Since my mounting block has gone missing (I’m wondering which horse was smart enough to cart it off and hide it in the woods), I just put Maverick next to the fence and Maggie slid on from there.  Maverick had about 5 seconds of fast walking while the “my goodness, there’s something on my back” surprise wore off.  Then, it was business as usual.

It was difficult for me to get pictures of him because he really just wanted to follow me (and the cookies) around the round pen.

Today was just about having someone on his back.  Maggie didn’t use her leg at all and the reins stayed slack the whole time.  

He did trot a few steps while I ran ahead and Maggie said he has a nice comfortable trot. 

She could also feel him trying to keep her centered and balanced up there.  He quickly figured out that it was more comfortable for him if she were comfortable. 

I really can’t tell you how proud I am of my baby boy!  I knew he’d be easy, but I am amazed daily at how willing to please he’s become.  I am really going to miss him!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Maverick – 04/03/10

I have to admit, I have been impatiently waiting to start this pony’s training.  He’s proven himself to be incredibly smart and willing to please, so I knew he’d be super easy to train.  

He never screamed or got nervous when I took him away from the herd.  He remained calm and curious throughout, only wanting to know what the next step was.  Walk on a circle?  Got it.  Trot when you cluck?  Got that too.  It took him two tries to figure out Whoa.

I had the saddle at the pen from when I had Molly up there earlier, so I thought, why the heck not?  Let’s see how it fits…

I slung it up there without even holding on to him.  He just stood there, of course.  That’s a 17” seat and it’s just a bit too large.  Chunky Butt is also still growing!  His butt is taller than his withers again.  All the youngsters are going through growth spurts right now, but I didn’t think Maverick had another big spurt in him. 

I cinched the girth up, but not too tight.  Just tight enough to keep the saddle on if he decided to go crazy.  He walked and trotted, stirrups clunking him in the side, and the saddle didn’t even phase him.  After only a few minutes I had him stop, took off the saddle, brushed him down, then let him go back to the herd. 

Next time we’ll see how he does with the bit in his mouth and maybe do some long lining.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jewel – 04/02/10

It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything with Jewel.  But over the winter she’s gotten to be quite the attention hound, seeking me out in the pasture for a scratch.   She’s become easy to halter and has calmed down A LOT.

All that changed today.  *sigh*

She was fine to halter and lead up to the round pen.  As soon as I turned her loose in the pen and asked her to “walk on”, it was all down hill from there.  I never even touched her with the whip and it was not necessary to chase her around the pen to make her trot.  All I did was stay in line with her hip and push her forward with body language.  Apparently, what I thought said “move forward” meant “I’m going to catch, kill, and eat you” to her.  While she didn’t explode and she kept a steady pace the whole time, there was no way in hell she was letting me near her after a whoa.  Nope, sorry Charlie.  Not even with treats. 

She got worked for well over an hour.  I was hoping exhaustion would bring her to her senses, but even though the sweat was flowing, she was not going to give in.  I eventually let her go, but she didn’t want to go.  She knew I had treats, she just didn’t want to come to me to get them.  But maybe, just maybe, I’ll throw some on the ground in front her?  No way! 

I know I’ll be able to get my hands on her tonight at dinner when she goes into her standing stall, so all is not lost.  Lesson learned, next time I keep the longe line on her in the round pen.  Eventually, she’ll learn that allowing me near her means rest from work and a good scratch behind the ears (her favorite place).  But today was definitely put down as a waste of time and a step backwards for Jewel.

Jasmine – 04/02/10

When Jasmine got here last May, she had a month old colt and a yearling colt both suckling on her.  She was not halter broke and did not see the need in letting humans touch her unless she had her head in a bucket of feed.  Both boys have been weaned for some time now, so Jasmine’s training started today (thanks to Mother Nature for drying out my round pen)!

All winter, Jaz has been getting friendlier by the day, even though I haven’t put much effort into her, except to worm, feed, and play with her feet.   She enjoys being groomed and will stand quietly, sans halter, while I scratch all of her itchies for her.  She’s still a little jumpy if I move too quickly, but she doesn’t go far.

Today was her first day in the round pen and my main objective was to teach walk and whoa, and get her used to the longe whip.  The longe whip was easy.  She quickly figured out that it was just another way for me to scratch the itchies.  Walk and whoa were also very easy, almost making me think that she’s had a little training at some point in her past.  But I think the whoa was just her saying “yup, I can come to a stop and not exert any more energy.  No problem!”

In other words, she’s a bit on the lazy side.  When I first asked for a trot, I had to actually tap her on the butt with the whip a few times.  Rather than explode, she slowly ambled her way up to a jog.  Barely.


I only did a few minutes in each direction, but in the end she had the idea.  Whoa means stop and stand.  Maybe look at the silly human to see if she’s got a treat.  Otherwise, go forward.  Right.  Got it.  Is it dinner time yet?

I have a feeling Jaz is going to be a very easy horse to train!

Monday, March 8, 2010

General – 03/08/10

What a winter!  I’m so ready for Spring and warm weather so I can start getting these guys worked.  Here’s a list of what’s going to happen this Spring, hopefully.

Molly needs to be evaluated to make sure she really is broke to ride, as I was told.  Flo also needs to be evaluated for soundness under saddle and suitability. 

All my three year olds need to be started under saddle, including Mick, Milo, and Maverick.  I think I’d like to teach Maverick to drive before putting him under saddle since he’s so small.  I may have a tiny little teenaged rider that may come out this summer to help me with the dwarfs, so keep your fingers crossed!

Sassy the mule is still untouchable.  I’ve done nothing with her this winter, other than just try to give her treats and get her over her fear and mistrust of humans.  She seems to be calming down a bit, but is still not halter broke.  I’ll do some reading up on mule training and get her started this Spring. 

Miles is in the same boat.  I’ve not done anything with him since he arrived last summer, due to all the other horses coming and going around here.  Once my round pen dries up a bit I’ll lure him in there and hopefully have him halter broke in the first session.  He doesn’t seem to be very fearful, just unsure of me. Once he figures out that I’m not out to eat him, he should be fairly easy to get going under saddle.

Jasmine is halter broke and it shouldn’t take much time to have her going well under saddle.  Like both her sons, she’s very laid back and easy going about everything. 

Cinnamon is an 8yo chestnut Arabian mare who has recently arrived here on the farm, along with the return of Genesis.  Cinnamon is flighty and difficult to halter, but once you have her, she’s a very sweet little mare.

There are two more horses coming on Wednesday and I’m told that they are dangerous.  The man that rescued them from a bad situation has had a couple of incidents with them in just a few weeks, one of which sent him to the emergency room for stitches in his forehead.  Yikes!  He tells me the healthier they get, the wilder they get.  Should be fun.  I just hope they don’t put me in the hospital – I have too much to do!

Last, but not least, I’m finally going to get around to Jewel.  Giving her so much time off has seemed to really help her attitude towards life.  She’s actually become an attention hound in the pasture and will seek me out any time I’m mingling with the herd.  She has calmed down quite a bit, and is no longer the nervous, flighty little mare that first arrived here.  I’m really looking forward to getting her under saddle and out on her first trail ride!