Yup, I figured it was about time to put up those photos I have been hoarding as of late ;)
A farm down the road from where Sunny, Twist, and Gypsy reside raises Belgians. I propose there is nothing cuter than a heavy foal ;)
A cow-calf pair...man I miss working cattle regularly - can't wait to get back at 'er!
Some fields belonging to Sunny's owners
Some fields belonging to Sunny's owners
Cody Aug 22, 2009
Yesterday we picked up the new horse, Dakoda a.k.a. Cody. He is probably about 14.2 or 14.3hh (I will try sticking him tomorrow) and, as previously mentioned, is a 2003 unregistered Paint gelding (lots of QH blood obviously). When I originally went out to assess him for possible training, his owner took a good 15-20 minutes to catch him, I think largely in part because I was standing there - the entire time he spent with his ears on me (the stranger). He wouldn't walk through the arena door that I held open, and he backed up when I tried to touch him. Once in the arena, he stood shaking and his manure ran out almost pure water due to his nervousness, poor guy. Eventually as I worked with him, he became comfortable around me, to the point of even seeking out to be near me and standing near me, head lowered.
Cody visiting with Link over the fence
Cody checking out mom's horse Sonny - he looks like such a pony next to the two big horses!
The little painted pony patiently stood tied while I worked Silver under-saddle in the outdoor ring - he (Silver) was a little excited to be working in a new place but did well. We are working on achieving even more balanced, collected gaits, some quality spins, lead changes, and rollbacks right now...and will be for awhile, lol. "Good, better, best, never let it rest."
Today, we did much of the same, though in the indoor arena this time, so as to escape the heat. Each day we work is an improvement, including some fantastic lead changes today. He's definitely ready for a job though, I cannot wait to get him up to Drayton (well, Tomahawk, specifically) and working cattle - little man's gonna love it!
Nothing like a good roll after being thoroughly cleaned up!
Gettin up to take care of the other side...Aly pup in the background, off to hunt whatever lives beneath the ground
Afterwards, I introduced Cody to 5 of the Parelli 7 games in the outdoor arena and even ponied him about a little on Silver. Of course he was a little skittish, but he did well throughout and seems to learn quickly and easily. Cody did fantastic in today's (indoor) session as well, he seems to be picking up on the games very quickly. So far, the following are my findings:
Yesterday was an outdoor session, during which Cody behaved "normally"; the minute I tied him up in the indoor arena today however he started shaking fearfully. I left him alone to work with Silver in the arena and while he never fought being tied, he was very restless and jumpy. Something about being in an arena (even when tied close to the large open door) seems to shake him up some.
Friendly game - Cody seemed particularly wary of the carrot stick and savvy string indoors but eventually tolerated it touching him and even being tossed over him provided I was standing close
Porcupine - he is starting to move his feet around, including his front end, with lighter pressure, and is no longer resisting pressure to his nose when I ask him to back by the nose
Driving - still a little skittish, but he was moving off my body language and stood still when I relaxed my posture
Yo-yo - he backs out on lighter phases (today he yo-yo'd back without my getting strong enough in my phases for the lead to jiggle beneath his chin) but becomes very uncomfortable (unconfident) once he's out on the end of the 12' rope. He's like a little squirrel scurrying about out there, so I have been giving him permission almost immediately once he is out there to come back in. We will build him up with longer and longer times out there until he is fully comfortable with it. Coming in (when I even so much as suggest he may come in - when I relax my body and start to lightly comb the rope) he will come in almost all the way but warily stand a couple of feet away from me yet.
Circling - yesterday he would only circle while keeping himself faced in towards me (sidestepping mostly), so I was overjoyed today when he gave me a lap in both directions with minimal direction (we worked up to it from half a lap with a few shots at the game) and walking straight along the circle, even licking his lips. He seems to have mostly figured out what I want and is doing his best to comply to my whims :)
Squeeze - I stood a good 4-5 feet out from the arena wall today when we tried this game for the first time, and after a few minutes of questions from Cody, he haltingly walked through the space, either side.
While Cody does indeed seem to have been abused rather than simply handled a little roughly (mis-management) or someone neglecting to build his confidence, he is very willing to let things go and give building a partnership a shot. We will keep on chipping away at that nervous squirrel exterior until we fully uncover the wonderful horse beneath ;) He is supposed to simply be a project horse, one on whom I was not intent on making a good dollar as opposed to simply finding him a good home (even if it simply meant we broke even) if it came to it, however he is such a nice horse I might have trouble letting go of him! Dad has admitted interest in him as well (I believe "wow, he IS nice" were his words when he first set eyes on him, or something of the like, LOL - tsk, as if I would lie, of COURSE he is nice, I said so!! haha j/k), so we will see, perhaps we can keep him ourselves or at least within the fam.
Missy has been doing fantastic as of late - her whole demeanor is becoming "lighter" and more pleasurable to work with. The beginnings of an excellent partnership forged. Yesterday we ended with a short work after she put so much effort into working willingly with me. She is engaging more consistently, her canter is slowly developing into something with a little more balance, and her lateral work is really coming along quickly. Today we had some prospective buyers out who really seemed to like her. My only qualm with them (should they profess serious interest) is that both riders (mom and daughter) are pretty beginner. Missy is a great horse, particularly for a 5yo - very quiet, bright, and knowledgeable, however I question her tolerance of a beginner rider bumbling about on her? She was great with the girl today, however I only led her around. She could not get Missy to trot out for her (though there were a number of minor factors that likely played a role) and Missy seemed to become more than a little annoyed with the girl's continual asking for her to trot. I recommended them to, if they are were to buy her, continue with their lessons on the horse they currently use and to allow a lot of time - start working Missy very slowly, for rider and horse to become in sync. Also, if they are serious, I want to see them both (mother and daughter) ride Missy by themselves (though at the end of a 22' line is fine) to see how they get along. Even with all this, I am still not so sure that this is the best home for her (though they seem like great, well-meaning people). I can't shake the common saying "green on green makes black and blue" and I don't want Missy to suffer the potential consequences (or for the young girl to be hurt in the process). I started riding Silver as a 4yo when I was only 12 (though I had been riding since 5 or so), and my mom, a re-rider, is getting back into riding on a 5yo off-track Thoroughbred. However while Silver and I turned out a great partnership and mom and Sonny work fantastic together, I am still not convinced that that can be the case for everyone. *sigh* so we will have to play things out. Personally, I would rather Missy go to another prospective buyer in Philedelphia, to live up to her potential as a wonderful dressage horse, where I do not have to worry she be mishandled by an owner's misunderstanding trainer or end up in the wrong hands because green on green made black and blue. This is a great little horse and I really want to see what is best for her. Sometimes it is difficult though, particularly in this economy, because sometimes ensuring what is best for a horse means sacrificing financial means (ie. refusing a high bid to a home and taking the risk the horse might have to sell for less to get her into another home as it remains on the market). BUT, isn't that how abiding by ethics and morals work sometimes? Yet it is always worth it.
Sunny got a good day of groundwork in yesterday, for two reasons: 1- he worked uber hard the previous day, in a 31C oven to boot, and yesterday was another scorcher. 2- he was extremely difficult to catch. The last thing I wanted to do was to take 10 minutes to catch him (and just barely) to work him hard. Because that would have just lit him up with excitement the next time I came out to work him. Henceforth though, he gets no freebies. Hard to catch, my trying to leave a good impression on him or not, he needs another week of trail riding in. Hopefully we are blessed with some good weather in which to do so! Today was a day of rest for him (and I!!), so his week-long trail binge will commence tomorrow (though will be split by another day or two off while I am in Drayton). Cowboy up!
My little Gypsy mare has been coming along, though much slower than even Cody - someone really messed with this poor mare. She too earned a day off today (okay, actually I earned it, she reaped the benefits, haha) but worked hard for it yesterday. While she didn't quite allow me to catch her in the larger paddock she was in, she did allow me to catch her (walked right up to me) in a smaller pen off from the larger one she was originally in. We worked in our square "roundpen" and actually had a very quick session - she whipped through her games easily and pretty calmly. I am hoping we can get some additional progress in over the next week of work left on her before leaving off with her for the year. I am hoping her owner continues to work with her and then has someone (myself or another trainer) work with her next year to lightly start her under-saddle. We'll see. The world of horses, eh.
Link has been eating his little heart out each day via beat pulp mash and seems to have put on a few pounds. Heck, he even walks up to me regularly now - no walking across the pasture to get him. Today I was on the phone and accidentally even walked right past him to, a minute later, find him hunting me down, lol. I have just been too busy to do any work with him and so have put off progress with him until I get him out to Tomahawk with Silver and Cody. There, we should get in a lot of work. I feel terrible for leaving Koolaid behind, but I can only take so many horses. Poor man has been horribly neglected attention-wise though. I keep telling myself though that you can only do so much, and that I will be able to do more with all the horses once we have our own property and I do not have to resort to spending so much time driving to all the horses. I hope I am right, and I hope that in the mean time our horses remain as happy as I am trying to keep them. We're doing our best!