Sunday, February 27, 2011

Easy - Chapter 2

(taken after she had come home with me)

  As Easy and I headed out of her stall the owner and BO gave us a wide could see and Easy and I could feel their nervousness and distrust. It was in the air and trying its best to infect the peaceful quiet confidence I was showing Easy. Thankfully they decided to stay in the barn to comfort the foal while we headed to the arena.

     Just going from what I had observed and what I had been told I knew my rules needed to be established. I do this with every horse I meet no matter what. I have very simple and fair rules. You move when and where I ask when I ask  and I will leave you alone. I'm only going to give enough pressure to get the desired result.

     The easiest way to get through to this mare was to turn her loose. It was a very large arena but I didn't need her to feel threatened or feel like she couldn't get away. I sent her forward. She was stiff and twisted up with a swishy tail but still didn't want to look at me. Every time I pushed to change direction, speed up, or slow down I stopped the pressure immediately after she made an effort. Within 20 minutes she was hooked on me and jogging a 30m circle around me without a care in the world.

     With a deep breath she stopped with me and turned to look at me. Her ears were forward, eyes relaxed, and she looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off of her shoulders. She quietly walked over to me and stopped at a respectful 3' and waited. I took a happy deep breath, walked over and gave her a "that'll do pig" rub. She dropped her head with the touch at her poll and sighed. I dropped my arm over her neck and we headed towards the barn.

     Seeing the owner's reaction was priceless. This was my mare and everyone knew it. I wish I could tell you that I went home, got my trailer and loaded her up there but life isn't perfect. The owner wouldn't give her to me until the foal had been weaned and they had been through pony inspections (November).

    It broke my heart to leave my mare in this situation.....with people who don't understand her, can't communicate with her, confuse her, and cut her feed back because her foal was getting too fat. I tried to educate them about the food and about handling her but cried on the drive home. I didn't want to have to wait 5 more months to get my mare.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Easy - Chapter 1

     I'm not a huge believer of fate or luck but I would like to believe in some kind of karma but don't put tons of stock in it either...however I truly believe that Easy was brought to me. She needed me and I'm better for knowing her. My first lesson was biting my tongue.

     Our journey started in the late spring, I knew from summer camps the past few years that I would need help for the coming summer. I was looking to hire someone part time to help me get crafts arranged and help the smaller kids with the horses so I placed a few ads here and there. Not too long after the ad was placed I got a call from a girl that was looking for a job and we got talking and she started telling me about a mare she owned that was highly aggressive and she was planning on putting her down as soon as she weaned the foal off of her. This mare had put 2 people in the hospital and was considered dangerous. Funny thing about horse people....once you get them takes hours to shut them up.

     Once I heard the description of this mare I was hooked and had to meet her. I arranged to come out a few days later and meet this violent horse. I get out to this nice little property with about 10 horses on it. The barn is set up so there is an isle and each stall is set up so you walk in through the barn and there is a 12x12 stall, then there is a half door leading to a 6' overhang and an individual paddock. I loved the setup. I was directed to a stall and walked right in. The owner and barn owner FREAKED and said that I couldn't go in there without a dressage whip. As I turn back towards the mare I see an ANGRY face and teeth heading my way. As quickly as I could I got BIG and popped her on the nose and chased her out of the stall. She left but wasn't happy about it.

      I quieted my breathing and peaked around the corner at a thin sunken mare with a healthy robust colt that was a few months old by her side. The mare was stressed you could almost see her grinding her teeth and hyperventilating. She wouldn't make eye contact and her whole body was tight with caution of my presence, looking down her feet were in desperate need of attention.

    This was what I hoped a confused and misunderstood mare. She appeared more scared than angry and was doing whatever she could to protect herself and her foal. I introduced myself by pushing a little here and there. Would she move forward? Would she turn away? Would she stop? Each time she moved I stood still and let her leave me without following after her.

     Finally I felt it was safe to slip a lead rope on her. She stood still but turned her head away slightly and avoided looking at me.  I gave her a "that'll do pig" rub and we headed towards the arena alone to get better acquainted.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Horses of my Past

(From the left: Anna, Max, Apple, Romeo, Oops, Easy)

In my 11 years or so of horse ownership I have owned around 47 horses. I know that sounds like a lot but a combination of lesson horses, rescues, rescues turned into lesson horses, and the search for Apple's replacement has lead to a lot of horses. Most of them were taken from bad situations and ended up in much better. Others were already in good situations and are still in good situations. I would love to tell you that I know where each and everyone of them are to this day however I won't lie. I checked where they were going and trusted those who helped me find them new homes. At one time I owned 9 but that was only for a short amount of time. 

I have always felt responsible for horses that need a home/friend but always knew that if they all stayed around I wouldn't have room for the next ones that needed help. 

A few years ago I decided I should try to keep a list of these horses. I think this is all of them but I'm not 100% positive. I worked with 2 fabulous "horse traders" that I trusted. They were honest and told me everything about the horses I got from them and I sold them a few or sold a few through them. One did a lot of summer/girl scout camps so quite a few of the quiet horses that were rehabbed went to him and anything registered or working type of QH went to him. 
I don't want to sound like a horse trader nor like a pink and fuzzy rescue that never rehomed my horses. I am at peace with it because I know they all were better for being removed from the situation they were in. My goal was to work with them and train them to turn out good broke horses that hopefully were so patient and tolerant they never ended up in a similar situation again. Everyone that has bought a horse from me knows that if something happens they can call me to buy/take the horse back. I know sometime bad situations happen to good horses but typically the better broke a horse is....the less likely of them ending up starved or abused. 

I'm going to be posting stories about each one....its going to take a while though....some were in my life a short while and only need 1 chapter while others were here for years and deserve many many chapters.

Here is my list(NOT in any kind of order):
1. Jinx - First horse. 14HH pony mare. 4yr old Red and White paint.
2. Apple - Got him as a long yearling
3. Max - 18 yr old Arab gelding. 15.2hh 
4. Easy - AQHA Given to me November 2002. 
5. Trouble -  Easy's colt. Born 5/6/04
6. Anna - TB mare. Given to me when she was 21. 
7. Oops -  Belgian mare 14yr old
8. Zoe - 13.2 hh Registered few spot appaloosa pony mare.
9. Romeo - AQHA 15.3hh gelding. 5 yr old
10. Uno -  Pony sized mustang mare. Only had one ear.  
11. Dorito - Blue roan stud. 2-3yr old.
12. Sam - Qh gelding. Given to me, skinny but super broke. 13-15yr old.
13. Dory - 2yr old Arab cross. Skinny and neglected. 
14. Austin - Bayish gelding. 5yr old. 
15. Lopez - Big bay TB cross mare.  Early teens I think. 16.2hh
16. Pie - 8yr old OTTB.
17. Baron - TB gelding. 20+ 
18. Davis - fleabitten grey TB gelding.  
19. Aspen - yearling black filly. 
20. Jojo -  10yr old QH cross. 
21. Evil Mule
22. Tessa - TB mare. Fleabitten mare. 16.3hh 
23. Desi - 8yr old bay mare. QH cross. 
24. Buckskin Pony Gelding - Peanut. 13.3hh around 10 I think.
25. Red Roan Mare - 8yr old. - Frosty
26. Ace - Spanish Mustang Gelding. 15.hh 
27. Abby - Bay OTTB mare 6yr old.
28. Lilly - Sorrel QH mare.  4yr old.
29. Trick - 5yr old Arab/Qh cross. Sorrel gelding. 14.3hh.
30. Dillon - 8yr old buskin gelding.
31. Kermit - Grey AQHA stallion. Golden Groundhog 5yr old
32. Athena - 16 yr old TB mare. Given to me, super skinny.
33. App Stud colt - Red roan app 3 yr old. 
34. Cody - Arab stud colt. Bay. RAF Mosabi Bay.
35. Jazz - Paint mare. 
36. Hope - 5yr old nice hunter pony mare.
37. Andy -5yr old AQHA working cow horse. Mr. Starlight Opa
38. Lori - Registered TWH mare.   
39. Gus - Skip the Ronald. 15yr old App gelding. 
40. Lady - Black free mare TWH. 
41. Chanel/Piper. Reg warmblood mare. Tb/OLD/HAN 11yrs old. 16.2hh 
42. May - 15.1hh 7yr old Arab/Saddlbred mare
43. Justice - DRA JUSTASWEETCHILD 9yr old Arab/Saddlebred mare.
44. Blue roan pony hermaphrodite. 5yr old
45. Alvin - paint stud then gelded. 5yr old. 
46. Sorrel Mare - 2yr old 
47. Bay Gelding - 2yr old
48. Emmett - 4 yr old grey TB gelding. From Katie Wilkins. Sold to Amanda.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Man from Snowy River

If you are a horse person/owner/rider/lover and you haven’t seen this movie….drop what you are doing this instant and go buy it! I have been watching this movie since I was probably 2yrs old. Watching it now I see how much it shaped my horse life and I couldn’t be happier.

 I liked the main character Jim better than I did Jessica…she is too whinny for me.  I wanted to ride like Jim but better(heels down and less pulling in the horse’s mouth) and do it being a girl…not be in a silly dress. I fell in love with Kip, Jessica’s horse and wanted a grey horse from there on out. I already had my imaginary horse Beauty that was black but my other imaginary horse, Lopez(don’t ask, nobody knows where I got that name) was grey and soon was ridden more often than Beauty. I had imaginary horses since I could walk/talk…my family had no idea where this disease came from but I would tie my horses(NEVER ponies) to my swingset while I played outside and laugh when they pooped. So from this movie on…I was hooked on greys and have owned several in my horse life. My family has home videos of me swinging and talking about my horses and even going over to move them to a new grassy spot because they had eaten everything there. They were perfectly behaved and lead very well…..although Beauty was known to occasionally jump around and be silly like the young colt in this movie… I never had trouble handling him like Jessica did. Lol 

Throughout the movie Jim’s horse Denny is a perfect example of a well broke horse, he stops from a dead run in a simple snaffle bit, turns, rides straight, lopes off, and you can crack a whip off of him, he was everything I wanted when I looked for my first horse. He is a little hot and I ended up with a GREY 15.2hh arab gelding that was irreplaceable….he was hot but very obedient and did everything I asked of him. He is missed. Now when I start young horses or ride already started horses I think about Denny. I ride them like I expect them to be good broke solid citizens.  I knew I wanted my horse to hit any obstacle without pause, to stop when other horses are rushing by, to not be scared of cows, to ride double, and I wanted to lope on top of a mountain without a care in the world. 

When Jessica comes into the barn where Jim is picking stalls and sees that Kip has torn up his halter(my horse Apple is like this) she tries to fashion a halter out of a piece of rope. I grew up with TONS of Breyer horses that were gifts from my grandmother but the saddles, bridles, and other accessories were too expensive for my family so I had naked horses. Well my one Barbie that could bend her knees had to have SOMETHING to ride with so my Dad taught me how to do the slip knot halter that Jim ties for Jessica. I had halters and bridles for each of my Breyer horses made from dark blue yarn. My mom gave me a spool of yarn and a pair of scissors and I went to town. My Barbie could easily ride bareback and she now could lead and ride her horses. I cannot tell you how many of these I made and remade. When I started riding I rode English so all my bridles now had to have browbands and one rein instead of split reins. J To this day I prefer to ride bareback and I think this is why...if bend-her-knees Barbie can do it… I can too!

 Growing up and even now  I never did get into just one discipline….another movie from my childhood(Danny) shaped me to like all of them…and while I have competed in many different disciplines one of my goals is to do a musical dressage test to the music from the chase of the brumbies in this movie. 

I think the one of the most valuable lessons this movie taught me was to keep my heels down. When the big group of riders is chasing the brumbies many riders fall or get knocked off their horses by branches and they get drug behind the horse because they didn’t have their heels down.Another great lesson is don't give up even when the jerk pulls your horse's bridle off at a full gallop.

All in all this movie like so many other great horse movies really had an impact on my horse life. I watched this movie while sitting at work today and laughed/smiled at all the things it makes me remember from when I was younger.  

If you have seen the second one it isn't as good but there is a part in the beginning where Jim shows that a mountain horse isn't junk and does an obstacle course the was used to show off military horses....I always wanted a horse that would do that.....that's why I have Apple.