Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Five Horses We Meet In Life

"The Five Horses We Meet in Life"
This is an email that's been getting forwarded around and I thought I would join in answering.

1. The Intro Horse.
We each came into horses in our own way, but it was always with a horse leading us. This might have been a friend’s first pony, or perhaps it was a draft horse on a farm you once visited It might have been a real-life meeting, or an imaginary one.

I really don't remember NOT liking horses, but according to my parents when my dad rented a pony for my 4th birthday party I wouldn't stop talking about having my own. I just remember being annoyed that the lady leading me didn't let me gallop and jump the logs in our big back yard. I was the birthday girl after all!

2. The Experimental Horse
Once you had crossed the line between “Darn, they’re big!” and “Wow! Can I try that?” you found yourself face-to-face with the horse that would suffer through your early attempts at figuring out the whole horse experience … wherever this horse came from, he probably didn’t benefit from the encounter as much as you did.

This is probably the lesson horse I rode most of my career at Royce Stables in Walla Walla, WA. He was a hardship registered Pinto gelding that was on his 3rd or 4th career teaching Dressage. When I started taking lessons on him he was at least 18 as far as anyone could remember and by the time he passed away a couple winters ago he must have been at least 30 and some counts put him at 33 yrs old. He was sway-back, stubborn, slow, heavy on your hands and dead to the leg and I loved him! He was a pro at putting up with little kids and their lunge-line lessons.

3. The Connected Horse
The first horses we meet don’t really connect with us, nor do we with them. Those are experiences in survival and tests of endurance. The Connected Horse is the first horse you truly bond with. This is the horse that sounds a chord that lives so deep in you that you might never have heard it otherwise.

I would say this is Cas, Spotless's dad. TB OTTB, treated like trash after his decent career and came to me skin and bones. He was AMAZING! I had no idea what I was doing taking care of a stallion and he was one of the easiest horses to keep and handle I've ever had. You could canter on a loose rein through the fields with a mare in heat. He was my dream horse. He passed away only 6 months after I got him, which was decades too soon. His front ankles both broke, just like the famous racing filly that died last year. The vet had never seen anything like it. They said it must have been an old racing injury or caused by injections or something. He was an awesome horse and his son sure has his loving, sensible temperament.

4. The Challenger
Into each horseperson’s life, a little challenge must fall. You’ll have read that one final training book, bought yourself a clicker and heading rope, and there you’ll stand, arms crossed, assessing the situation as if you actually knew what the situation was. It might be difficult to believe, as you are flying down the aisleway on the losing end of a braided cotton line, but you actually need this horse in your life.

I think several horses have been this one for me.

Lady Ghirardelli (Delli), my first horse. 14.3 H, 11 yrs old, Appy/Arab/Hackney mutt mare. She would buck me off and go cantering away. She escaped from her stall the first night and sent us running across the fields in the dark to find her. By the time I sold her she was going Intro Level and was so well-behaved she went on to be a successful 4H show pony.

KT Copper War Rebel, my first ground-up horse. 15.2H, AQHA gelding, bought him as a yearling. He was an easy start as a late 2 yr old, but got more challenging as the years went by. I sold him at 4 yrs old when he made it clear he was NOT going to be a ring show horse, nor was he a fan of Dressage. He went on to be a competitive Barrel horse from what I hear.

Amigo Flame, favorite horse so far. 13.1H, 1/4 Shetland, 3/4 Arab pony. Bought him as a barely handleable 3 yr old stud prospect, got him gelded (when I got him home in the day light it was apparent ALL 4 feet turn out!). I had a great time teaching him. By the time I sold him only 8 months later he was a kid's show-pony. AWESOME little man. If you see him up for sale, SNATCH him up! He stormed the trails like an endurance horse, shined in the show-ring, and took everything in stride. He was a great all-arounder prospect and is now started in jumping by the current owners. He is the one I've sold that I would take back in a heart-beat.

5. Your Deepest Heart
There will come a time when you will look at yourself with a cold, appraising eye, and you’ll have to be honest about your continued ability to deal with The Challenger and other difficult horses. At that point, you’ll seek out the horse that will be your soul mate forever… You’ll have bought him the most comfortable, best fitting equipment… Maybe you’ll still go to shows and ride – brilliantly or barely – in the Alzheimer’s class. Maybe you’ll just stay home. Whatever you do, one day you’ll realize that after all the money you spent on animal communicators and trainers, you only had to stop and listen and you would have clearly heard your horse’s thoughts and desires.

This may be Dazzle, but maybe not. If not, I certainly haven't found it yet. I have a feeling Dazzle will be my forever packer. She is mellow and sensible and I could see being happy with her forever. She is up for anything and will happily change disciplines everyday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trudy's Horses...Want to Buy An Appy?

-Want To Buy An Appy?-
Trudy and Melissa had a discussion about how Trudy's horses were doing in training. She suggested they consider selling them in the Spring because they aren't really suited for what Trudy wants to do.

Trudy has had her mare since the horse was 3 and they've been through a lot, but a lot of it was bad. Trudy wants to do really all around riding; Dressage, maybe some jumping, lots of trail-riding in the mountains, parades, team-penning and sorting, pack little kids at family gatherings, etc. Just, anything and everything that strikes her fancy, like I do with Dazzle. Her mare is an awesome horse; long legged, sweepy stride, beautiful rare Appy color. But, she doesn't have the temperament to sit in a pasture all winter while there is 5 feet of snow at Trudy's house and she gets really hot and hyper at the gaming days. She needs a job big time; 6 days a week, hard work, lots of challenges, and she'll go really far. She is built to do Dressage, hunt seat, Jumping, play in Western pleasure for the show-ring, do trail class. She is good on the trails, but really her pasterns are too long for endurance riding that is timed. She does fantastic on the Chief Joe because it's all walking and she has the stamina to go all day. But she wouldn't hold up to cantering over that rough terrain. So, She will be Training or 1st Level Dressage and starting Jumping by the Ride this year and will attend the ride with the goal of selling her at the end. So, if any of you are looking for a sport horse like this, keep an eye out for her on the ride or email for Trudy's info. Her bloodlines are on, A Lucky Kiss. She is 15.3H and 7 in the Spring I believe. They paid $2500 for her I think as a VERY green 3 yr old. She is the marble colored mare on Melissa's training blog.

Horse #2 is Mister Lucky Again Jr, 4 in the spring and about 15.2H I think. He is bay with a rump blanket; very flashy. Melissa and I started his ground work and did a couple rides on him in the fall and now she has been doing more ground work with him. He is a half-brother to Sparkles, the above mare. He looks like a circuit horse; hunt seat/western pl/Dressage. He only has a few rides right now, but will be ridden most days after about March and will attend the ride probably as a rental horse to be sold at the end. He is way cute, but not for a beginner. His personality is not puppy-dog. He needs a competent human that knows how to discipline and he will excel. They paid $2500 for him about a year ago as a barely halter broke coming 3 yr old.

Appy #3 isn't in training with Melissa yet. His name is Powder My Britches and he is foundation bred. He is small, I think about 14.2 and he is 4 in the Spring also I believe. He is chestnut with a rump blanket. His dad was a tank, so they expect he will really chunk out. He was in training as a yearling with a lady that worked on halter breaking and lunging and showmanship and they won a showmanship class at a local show. However, since then they have none NOTHING with him, so Melissa will be starting him over again in March or April. He has old bloodlines, mostly endurance as far as I can tell, so he should make an awesome mountain trail horse. He will be attending the ride to sell at the end also. They have probably $3000 in him by now with the training and boarding.

Trudy and my father-in-law will be entertaining offers over $2000 for each at the end of the trail ride.

Winter Wonderland...When I was 10 maybe

So, yesterday we woke up to snow. And it snowed most of yesterday AND last night. It is SO cold. It has been near 10 degrees for the last two weeks so I haven't been able to work my two kids. They are feeling quite neglected. I got to work them once last week and they were both skittish, but well behaved.

Spotless does really well moving his rump and forehand from just a finger movement and his haunch turns for showmanship are coming along great. Now to get him to "set". That is the one that is going to be really hard with him. He hates standing square. We starting doing the squeezing exercise and he was picking that up really fast. Backing is going great, after the one horrible day and the next day where Melissa spent 10 minutes with him. She's a miracle worker.

Dazzle did MUCH better moving her rump and shoulders on cue with urgency. I didn't even have to touch her with the stick. After that review I introduced the baby roll-backs on the lead-rope and she was starting to watch my body to know when I was going to request a turn. She actually did two real roll-backs where she jumped her front end 180 degrees and kept moving. She also was halting on the circle on cue calmly and without walking out of the halt. Spotless is still working on that one.

My plan for Spotless is to have so much ground work on him that I will be able to pay for one or two months of training to get him going under saddle and get him sold next Spring or Summer. If the trainer doesn't have to waste time doing ground-work they should be able to move along quickly with his work ethic and temperament.

We found a girl at the barn that Melissa boards at that does jumping and is willing to try giving jumping lessons to Melissa. The plan is that she will take lessons on Sparkles for Trudy and on Dazzle for me. So, both will be properly started to jump by Spring. That will start after she gets back from Canada after Christmas break. So, I will pay for her to take jumping lessons from the lady at the barn and Dressage from Patricia and then her shows in the spring and summer. Then I will be able to start riding her again mid to late summer. In July she will go on the Trail Ride again and either Trudy will ride her or she will be rented out.