Avoiding Trouble.

I’ve ridden several times since the last post, and as usual, I’ve worked Ransom nearly every day since then as well but I’m a horrible blogger and haven’t posted in…awhile. There hasn’t been many new occurrences, although Red is acting off this month yet again, as he did last year, but I know the problem and he should be back to normal soon. Nothing a good trim won’t solve- his abscesses last year caused his hoof to grow out awkwardly and it’s throwing him off balance when riding, hard for a horse that is already hard to get balanced, so luckily this year it isn’t total lameness that has struck us down. 😉

Ransom has taught me quite a number of really valuable lessons just by working him through things. While I’d say I have some experience with starting a horse just based on retraining Red and working with our rescues, not being entirely sure what they do know, and by working with a few young horses that are owned by friends, I don’t have that much of it. Ransom has been a whole new thing, and I can’t even write down everything new that comes up, that kind of hits me across the head and makes me realize that I could be doing this or that better. My whole goal for Ransom has been avoiding trouble, not being scared of it, but avoiding making him uncomfortable or troubled about working with me. I don’t want him to see the halter and run, or get scared in the arena when he sees the whip, or to get so filled with new information that he has no other option but to shut down his baby brain.

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My thing every day when I plan on working with him, whether it’s grooming him in the barn or lunging him in the arena, fly spraying him or putting a pad on, it’s all based on what new things I can throw at him without him running from me, but running to me. If he puts confidence in me, it will make the riding down the road much easier, knowing that he feels like he can rely on me when things get scary, or just knowing that he doesn’t hate the idea of me being so close (aka, strapped on his back like a weirdo.) A lot of people train around the mindset of let’s just break them, throw new things at them, saddle them up and let them bolt and buck and just get it out of their systems, but I don’t want that. I don’t want him to feel like he has no other option but to go run and blow up. If he does, that’s okay, but if it gets to that point, of him being scared? I’ve done something wrong, I’ve skipped over a crucial step. There’s a difference between a colt acting like a colt and going for a frisky run around the arena vs. being scared to death of whatever I’ve just done. If he’s scared, I want him coming to me, taking confidence from me, not running in the opposite direction.

Partnership.

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I’ve tried to get one of my heavier western pads on him a number of times but it’s always resulted in him letting me know very clearly that he doesn’t trust it. He’s not a fan, he’s not ready. While he’s never gone crazy, he’s bolted around me on the lead and stared at me like “Why would you do that?” English pads, being so much lighter and smaller, aren’t as scary, but considering he’s going to be a western horse…that won’t work all that well for long. 😉 In the last week I’ve seen some small differences in him and I figured that he’d be ready for another step. So, we lunged (horse lunges better and better every day.) did some groundwork, and tried again.

 

And it was like nothing ever happened. I took it off, then threw it on quickly again, and repeated it, and he never cared much at all. It’s amazing how taking time can change things, trying once and letting them think things over then trying again later. So far, I’ve never forced him to rush into things that make him uncomfortable, and I think for that reason, he’s put a lot of trust in me and has remained pretty darn calm and willing to do what I ask him. Partnership. Something I need to learn a lot more about, but we’re getting there.

Vision Becoming Reality.

When you first get started, you’re the only one with a vision. When you become creative and use your imagination, pretty soon the things you imagined, you can get done. If you got a taste of it, if you got a taste of what I’m talking about, you’d rather do that than eat. You couldn’t get enough of it. You’ll hunger for it the rest of your life.

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Biggest lesson I’ve learned thanks to the horses that I’ve had and people that have come into my life and helped me along the way – if you can’t stop dreaming about it, can’t stop loving it, wishing for it, hungering for it…go do it. Make your vision a reality, and work hard to get to where you want to be. Whether you want to go gentle a colt and train it or learn a new discipline or rescue horses or whatever it is that you dream about. You take your vision and run with it, regardless of people who discourage you, and you prove them wrong best you can.

Meet Baby J!

I have like, a ton of updates. Here’s all of them in brief picture form before we get to the real meat of this post…a NEW BABY. Apparently everyone’s equines are foaling, and Blossom decided that yesterday was the perfect day to finally pop. Those of you on my Facebook and Instagram have already been bombarded with dozens of photos.

First off, I got over a major fear last week and I cantered Red. We’ve ridden three times since then, did canter work all three times after, and he is doing wonderfully. He’s crowhopped twice purely out of stubborness and been great the rest of the time. I’ve discovered the trick…carrying a dressage whip. One tap on the butt and he’s off.o1

I am over the moon happy to be cantering my horse again with confidence. Yes, no helmet. I’m stupid, I admit this, and as soon as I can afford it I will be purchasing another one. Right now my wallet is limited…because, ya know, training a colt, horses need feed, I just had to have the vet and farrier out and BOOM surprise foal that came earlier than expected. But soon.

Not only has he been rockin’ the canter work but he’s looked like this at the trot for the last several rides:

Update number 2…I had my trainer out to see Ransom on Saturday, just to work through some small issues that we’d been facing (very minor) and to get some homework. We’ve kind of been at a standstill so I needed her to come out and tell me what I needed to work on next. It was a long day but he did fantastic, especially considering he’s extremely uneasy around new people and hasn’t seen M since December. We worked on ground driving, and he panicked a bit at the ropes then calmed right now. We quickly realized that I need to work more on flexing and vocal cues before doing major ground driving, but we’re very pleased to see how quickly he picks up on things. He may be scared and trot around in circles and panic for the first few minutes but as soon as he figures out what you want, he does it, no questions asked. A few firsts happened…he took a bit for the first time, went great, he wore boots for the first time, went great, was ground driven for the first time, went well except for the fact that he’s just not 100% ready, and we worked on lunging on the line for the first time. We had to work on getting some respect for the whip because apparently, I desensitized too much and at first he didn’t want to move off, even when M was waving the whip like crazy behind him, lol. On one hand I’m still happy about that because before, that would’ve caused a TOTAL freakout.

All in all, M left telling me that he is a really good baby, very smart and willing to please. All he needs is to be taught, and that is what we’re doing. I love him a little more every day. He’s still lunging perfectly on the line for me.  I told M that everytime she leaves, I swear that I’m left with a brand new horse – in a good way.

He’s also letting me lay my arms and torso (using a mounting block, because he’s TALL and my head comes to his withers lol) over his back and is letting me touch everywhere without being afraid which is new, so I’m really happy.

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He’ll be going to my trainer for 2 weeks *sniff sniff* very soon. The current plan is to have my trainer haul him out but we’re waiting for a smaller trailer with a ramp to be available. I’ll miss having him at my barn every day because he’s the highlight of every visit and always comes running to me, but I can’t wait to see how good he will do there. If one 45 minute session changes so much, imagine what 2 weeks will do!

Now, for the exciting part of the post….welcome Jerusalem “J” to the family!

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Blossom began showing major signs on Friday and I expected her to foal within a few days, according to the donkey people that I talked to. We checked on her at 9am Sunday morning and she acted completely normal, then when we got home from church at 1pm, we drove by and looked over at her…and saw baby legs hiding behind her. We screamed a little, pulled over and ran out…to see this cutie! Blossom was acting totally normal and is still doing great, baby is nursing, pooping, peeing and running around like a crazy kid. We originally thought that it was a jenny but he is ALL boy. Both are doing so good and Blossom, despite being very nervous and protective at first, has been a great mom and is letting me handle J without problems even though she almost kicked me yesterday. 😉

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He is HUGE, I don’t even want to know how she fit that thing in there, but his legs are straightening out very quickly and he’s already been cantering around the field like a big boy. He’s doing great and loves to be touched and scratched behind his ears. Very special to us because, as most of you know, I’m a very devoted Christian and he was born on Palm Sunday, also known as Blossom Sunday, the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and prepared to be crucified. We named him Jerusalem because of that. He’s a very special boy and a very loved member of our little town already. We have cars stopped all the time coming to look at the baby.

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So, there is my bucket load of updates!

Small Improvements.

Young horses are so different than older ones.Instead of being excited over big improvements like lead changes, seeing a horse learn to collect itself, jumping this, making this great run, etc etc etc, it’s all about being happy to be able to lead your young horse outside of the arena safely. Putting a saddle pad on its back without a buck or bolt. Fly spraying without the world ending. Picking feet without tantrums. And instead of it taking a long time to accomplish things, like Red and his collection for example, which has taken over two years to really see a big difference, I’m seeing small improvements every day. Ransom likes to learn, that much is obvious, and he doesn’t like getting into trouble. He’ll do almost anything for some reassurance and a pat on the neck. I’m caught between being overly excited over tiny things and wanting to post about ALL THE THINGS and thinking “Okay, do y’all really want to read messy posts all abotu how I led my horse around in a big pasture today without being dragged?”

But alas, here I am, about to talk about how my horse let me lead him on the halter outside of the arena without me getting dragged.

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I want to get him a nice halter but his head is growing like crazy and I don’t want to pay a ton when he’s going to grow out of it in a month…struggles.

Ransom has had 4 sessions in the arena so far. On the first day, we worked on tiny things. I introduced him to the lunge whip, tossed barrels around him, led him around the barrels, over some trot poles, worked on leading, engaging his hindquarters, backing up on the lead, and attempted join up for the first time which was a success. The second day went nearly the same, except we spent some time introducing the idea of lunging at the walk. Made a few laps at the walk, tried to get him to understand different cues which went pretty well, then did join up again. The next day was spent mostly on desensitizing, fly spray being the biggest deal. He doesn’t flinch at much…big balls hurled over his back, whips being cracked around, big feed bags, saddle pads…but fly spray? OMG GONNA EAT ALL THE BABY HORSEYS

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We ran for awhile.

Luckily, he has a good brain and as soon as I set the spray bottle down, he chills out. I’ll be working more on fly spraying today, I think. He doesn’t act completely stupid, just runs from it and is very confused over the idea. Totally confident that this will pass quickly just like everything. He bolted over the saddle pad less than a week ago and yesterday he was accepting it on his back with barely anything more than a side eye like “What is that?” so I’m sure it’ll work out just fine with more time.

Yesterday was spent working on the saddle pad being on his back which went very well, and I spent quite awhile on grooming because he’s shedding horribly and I’m desperate to make him somewhat clean again. We also had our best day every on the lead and he acted like a totally normal, sane, sweet, halter broke horse. It was raining off and on, horses were being turned out, hay was being thrown, and he was good as gold. We’ve managed to walk out of the arena twice now so I can lead him to the other pasture and he behaves perfectly, lets me get the gates opened without being pushy or spooky. I’m seeing changes in him every day. Nothing huge like saddling up or doing perfect liberty work, but things that he has to learn in order to make every day easier for me to handle him.

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He’s doing great with the herd, not quite friends with anyone yet but things have remained totally peaceful. He’s still BFF’s with Halfpint and they hang out together all the time, so he’s not totally alone, just no friends his own size yet. 😉 He has learned what a whistle means and anytime I whistle, he comes running regardless of if I just turned him out or not, or if I have food. Starting to act like an actual baby these days. Instead of being afraid and cautious around people, he’s friendly, curious and a bit of a pest.

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Pony says vroom vroom!

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Feeling a lot less anxious about his progress these days. 🙂

In With The Herd!

I’ve been putting off turning out Ransom with the herd for quite some time now for multiple reasons. First of all, I wanted to feel confident enough in how tame he had gotten. If he became hard to catch in the bigger pasture with the herd, it’d be extremely tough. I needed to get him to the point where he was easy to halter and lead. While he’s not 100% perfect on the halter yet – his feet tend to get “stuck” and he is still a little fidgety but not dangerous or bad at all – he’s safe and good enough now. The second problem…Blossom, our donkey, is now bagging up and due to have her baby any day now. I was stuck between two problems. She’s very attached to Ransom and loves her job as a protector. She gets uneasy when her two boys (Halfpint and Ransom) are away from her, but I’ve also been worried about having her foal with Ransom in the same area. She’s still 99% wild and I can’t just leave her in a stall or lead her into another area. But lately, as her pregnancy progresses, she’s cared more and more about herself and being comfortable rather than being with her other buddies. She’s very uncomfortable right now and I think she’s thankful to have the pasture mostly to her self other than at night when Halfpint is with her.

So, Ransom got turned out today. He’s been wanting in with the herd for awhile now, paces the fence and just sits there staring at them. I’ve been a nervous wreck over it, dreading the introduction even though they’ve met and known each other through fences since December. I hate seeing them fight and trying to establish a pecking order, but it’s something that has to happen. Things went very, very well. They all ran around for awhile and then after about 30 minutes, they had settled down nicely and Ransom stuck with Halfpint. After awhile Ransom came over to me and I walked him around the bottom pasture as well, he’s great about following me and seems to be far more interested in me rather than the herd, which is great because I was really concerned about that and if he would just revert back to being hard to catch after going back to living in a huge area with different horses. Obviously he wouldn’t lose everything I’d taught him, but you never know how they’ll react to different herds and situations. He went in every stall, found every water trough and found the salt blocks.

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All of our horses, minus Halfpint. I wish Stormie was easier to see, but oh well!
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Red is very red this time of year.

This is the first time that I’ve really been able to see a good amount of Ransom’s movement. He’s not a particularly active horse and doesn’t do a ton of running around. When he spooks, he normally just trots away a step or two and is done. I was insanely impressed with his movement. My mother, our boarder and the boarder’s husband was also there and we all nearly died when he came trotting around the pasture for the second time. I would’ve loved to have gotten a good video. Praying that I can get that sort of trot under saddle. If he can do it on the ground, surely he can do it with me on his back with the help of my dressage trainer. My mother, who is known for being quite picky with horses, particularity my horses and geldings 😉 has been bragging on him all day and even agreed that he could end up turning out to be a fancy, fancy big horse. Here’s hoping.

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This is literally how he trots 99% of the time. I die.

He is able to lift himself up much and use his body so well for such a young dude with no experience. I can’t wait to get on his back and see how much of that we can recreate.

I took him to the arena for the first time ever this evening to eat and then introduced him to the lunge whip. I definitely will be needing my trainer’s advice as I teach him how to lunge, the cues, how to get him to respond properly and etc. He was completely care free with the whip, paid it no mind at all, and I got him to “lunge” at a walk around the arena twice. Just simple things for now, getting him used to all of the minor details. He checked everything out, the barrels, trot poles, mounting blocks, didn’t seem to react to anything. I haltered him, did some groundwork on the lead and he was excellent.

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Size differences. Almost 2 vs. Almost 15. 😉

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I checked on him earlier this evening and he was eating hay peacefully with the herd, and I’ll be back up to check on him in another 30 minutes or so. Perks of living walking distance from my horses. 😉

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Sweaty and muddy. Great combination. I have to curry him tomorrow. 😉

He’s kind of a big boy now…in with the rest of my crew!

 

The Best, Craziest, Dumbest of Decisions

I’ve had Ransom for a little over 4 months now, which is crazy in so many ways because part of me feels like I’ve had him just as long as I’ve had Red, and the other part is like “Didn’t I just make an ad to look for one?” When I first posted my ad, saying that I was casually looking for a young horse – a year old at the very oldest, would prefer a weanling, preferably a filly, with little to no experience/handling- on my Facebook page, I got about 10 messages from fellow horse people saying things like this:

“Are you stupid?”

“Why?”

“You’ll regret it.”

You see, I love groundwork. I love transformations. I love love love getting those horses with a screw a little too loose in their heads, a bit awkward, a bit skinny, a bit hairy, and watching them start to change. I feel like I’m unwrapping a present. I love it. I love being the one to take the tools that I have and fix things…with the help of professionals whenever I need them, of course. And I love doing new things. So…why not? Worst thing that could happen is I could regret the decision and rehome the horse later. Or get even more professional help than I planned so I don’t screw a horse up if I can’t sell it quickly.

I’d manage.

So, I brought a big, muddy, wild colt home and named him Ransom.

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I brought him home and then, for the next couple of days, I thought “Oh, what the heck did I do?” What possessed me to bring home a completely WILD colt? Scratch that. What made me think that i could handle this huge colt? If he was sized like a normal yearling…yeah, I could do that. But this horse is ginormous. Even bigger now. Bigger than Red. So if he decided to be stupid…I could get seriously hurt. And he did decide to be stupid. The first day with a halter was a breeze. And so was the second day, and the third day, and the fourth day. I added a lead rope. It went well. Then it went well the next day. Then he freaked out. He, not in a mean way at all, but in a “I am confused, I am unsure, I am a baby, help me understand.” Bless my trainer, God bless her, because the day I had her out she set all of my fears at ease and we figured something out.

This horse wants to please more than any other horse I’ve been around. He tries SO hard. The moment he figured what we were about, things changed and he hasn’t bolted since then. Granted, we’ve had some spooks on the lead but he tries his best not to be stupid and comes right back to me. He still has baby moments because, hey, he’s a baby and he was completely wild four months ago, but nothing he does is out of meanness. Nothing he does is stupid. He’s learning how to control himself and his spooks are almost laughable now.

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Getting this horse was probably a stupid idea on my part…but let me tell y’all, he was much needed. I got him at a very hard point in my life, right after losing my father, and I don’t know what I was searching for but I definitely needed something to get my mind off of things, something to help me prove something to myself. That my father would be proud, that he’d be happy, that I’m someone to be proud of. I needed to know that I am capable of chasing my dreams, and so far, things have gone in my favor. This horse means more to me than any other horse in the world…Red closely ties, but there’s something about him that just sparks something in me.

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There’s something special about bringing up a young horse, especially when you get to be the first one that they really know. Seeing that he is still uncertain around others but if I’m there, he’s okay. Seeing that he’s gone from running from everyone to following me like a dog. I went to the barn yesterday after being MIA for a few days with the flu, and he wouldn’t leave my side. Everywhere I went, he was there, being a goofball. He’s developed a personality now that he’s tamer, and he’s hilarious, quirky and weird. He likes to nudge everyone with his nose, he likes to give kisses and play in water, and likes to take my hats off of my head and throw them. He likes to nudge my ponytail with his nose and make it swing around. He loves scratches and to be curried. He likes to please and he likes to be around people.

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I made a crazy, sudden, stupid decision and I ended up finding something that has reignited a spark in me, a fire that I’ve been missing ever since my mother almost died thanks to one of our rescues. Instead of fear…I’m just excited. I can’t wait until the day that I can throw a leg over this horse. I could be having the worst day and seeing him there, regardless of how he acts or if he’s having a no good, very bad, very scary and spook filled day, I’m happy to see him.

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So, happy 4 months to my horse, the horse that still feels like he’s too good to be mine, the horse that has stolen a huge hunk of my heart. Here’s to a lot of years training, riding and being with this big grulla.

Thanks for making me into a happier person, Rans.

So Many Updates (and no time to write)

I can’t even tell y’all how many rides I’ve had since I posted last. In short, I’ve tried to ride 4-5 times a week and other than on very rainy days, I’ve succeeded. I’ve managed to ride both Red and Stormie most days which has been a huge success and I’ve gotten a really good schedule down. My plans to ride more this week seem to be ruined by rain and sickness, but I should – fingers crossed – be back to riding by Friday. We’ll hope my arena dries. Right now everything is basically a huge swimming pool and there is more rain coming tomorrow. When I say rain, I mean DOWNPOUR, very severe weather so blah.

Red had been having some very…off rides. He’s been extra stubborn thanks to the nice spring-like weather we’ve been having, but he does this every year so I just pushed through. He through a couple bucks and a lot of crowhops the other day but I rode it out and then he proceeded to kick butt in the good way and was fabulous the next day, so woohoo.

 

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I promise I released a half a second later, I’m always cringy looking at some photos with this hack because of the longer shanks but they barely touch his face.

I think the biggest thing that has helped Red get in a better mood is that we’ve been doing more of this…

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We left the arena and didn’t die!!!

Which always makes his ears perk up.

Stormie is an angel as always. I’ve been messing around with some western pleasure work with her, just to see what she seems to gravitate towards and pick up the easiest.She has been incredible. I’ve worked on her jog twice and when I rode her yesterday she jogged like a total pro. I posted the videos on my Instagram (@kalincraig) if you want to see. Her canter is shaping up although I need to get her a bit better at cantering as soon as I ask for it.

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Why am I not wearing a helmet? Because I’m stupid, that’s why. I acknowledge it.

That mare has so much potential and I couldn’t be more excited to unlock it.

Next on the list would be Ransom, who is doing better and better every day. He’s now letting me put his halter on without a fuss at all which is a HUGE success because that has been his biggest problem. He’s no longer spooking over tiny little things like the lead rope touching his side or me swinging it over his neck. I’ve just started putting lightweight things on his back – a saddle pad, my jacket, bareback pad..- and he’s doing okay. A little fidgety at first but really good. Best thing about him is he’s extremely eager to please so I don’t foresee any problems at all once he’s used to things. I give him two weeks and he’ll be perfect with the light weight on his back. On the next dry and warm day I plan on getting him up to the arena for the first time. I’m now able to pick up both front feet without a super big fuss. Back feet are still iffy, but we’ll get there.

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He lets me go to him anytime in the pasture without running off which is great. He’s starting to get better with new people as well although he definitely does the best for me. Also, he’s looking REALLY hunky.

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From today. Can you tell it rained?

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A question I get a lot is how tall he is..I have yet to measure him accurately but this should show how large he is. I’m wondering if he’ll make 16.3-17hh.

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I’m still loving him more and more every day. Every time I ride, I keep thinking about how great it’ll be to hop on him for the first time. There’s definitely something special about him.

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Donkey poop. Donkey poop everywhere.

Overcoming. I am.