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.

Overcoming.

Though the year started out meh because of nonstop rain, I’m having a good year so far. I’ve dedicated myself to the horses, made decisions about college, careers and what I’m going to do with my life in the next two years. I’ve decided to take a gap year, find a decent job and invest myself 100% in the horses, my animals in general, and finding out what makes me the happiest. What makes me feel fulfilled. Like life is worth living and my dreams are worth chasing. Ransom has been a ginormous blessing in my life, bigger than I pictured. He’s made me see how much I love problem solving. Colt starting. Working with horses in general. I’ve been able to get over a lot of fears and for the first time in two years, I’m looking forward to continuing on and whenever I leave the barn, I leave happy. When I go, I’m not stressed, or scared, I’m looking forward to seeing my colt in the pasture, to working with him and the other horses. I’m excited for summer and more projects and spending long nights at the barn riding in my newly lit up arena.

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I want to do this. I want this to be my life. Horses have always been one of the biggest parts of my life and I’ve gone to them on the hardest of days. I’ve gone to horses on their hardest days. I go to auctions and I see thousands of horses ready to go to slaughter for no good reason, and I want this to be my life. I want to offer them hope because that is what they’ve given me. On the days that I don’t want to get out of bed, or when I’m depressed or on the brink of a panic attack, I go to the barn.

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Do I want to make a name in the horse world? Honestly, no. I just want to keep helping horses. I don’t care if I never make it to the NFR or to some amazing show as long as I’m helping horses. Problem solving, rehabilitating, that’s where my heart is. So I’m dedicating this year to that. I’m going to work hard, find a trainer that will allow me to work under them, to watch, learn and experience. Regardless of what people think of this, this is what I want to do with my life. I refuse to let my fears to continue to rule my life, I want to overcome them.

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Maybe I’ll fail. Maybe I’ll fall. Maybe I’ll get in way over my head…but I’ll be chasing after who I am, and what I believe my heart is called towards. We’ll see how it goes.

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I know that watching my colt go from wild to following me in the pasture in two months has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. That every time we make another step forward in training, I feel more fulfilled than ever. I know that learning from Red has been something that has taught me in every area of my life, even outside of horses. That Shalom still effects my life, that even Zippy taught me a lot about horses and how we can’t judge a book by it’s cover. That it’s okay to give up at times, and ask for help.

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I’m tired of waiting for my confidence to magically come back, so I’m pushing myself. With or without confidence, I ride, and I can feel it come back gradually every time I step into the stirrups or hop on bareback. I’m riding different horses, I’m working with Ransom. Before long, I’ll be back into regular lessons whenever I can afford it. Whatever helps, whatever gets me closer to the life I want to live.

 

Baby Animals EERYWHERE!

I love baby animals, as most people with hearts do. Kittens, puppies, foals/weanlings/yearlings, chicks, ducklings…my heart melts. Probably why I ended up with a baby horse and a baby dog in the span of two months. While my mind was going insane trying to keep up with the baby german shepherd who, during the first week home, decided that sleep is overrated (I was getting like two hours of sleep a night. KILL ME NOW) and peeing in the darkest spot of the hallway, right in the middle where EVERYONE steps in it because YOU CAN’T SEE IT is super fun, things seem to be settling down. Currently, I have said German Shepherd sleeping on the couch with his favorite bacon scented ball and baby horse gets to meet our farrier for the first time. His hooves are in pretty darn good shape and whether or not they get trimmed today or if he gets to wait a bit longer for safety purposes, we shall see. Either way. Baby steps.

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First day home.
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From like two nights ago.

Ruger’s ears are standing up, he’s now sleeping through most nights, only waking me up around 6 to go potty which is fine because I’m up around that time anyways, he’s learned lots of tricks and is pretty much my shadow these days. He was 23 pounds when he came home a little over a week ago and now he is 33 pounds. Yes. Much weight. Big doggo.

As far as Ransom goes, he is doing great. He got a couple days off because we’re currently building a new fence in our yard to help contain our two big dogs which has kept us busy in the evenings…we have a big yard and we’re trying to make sure that we do a good job with it. I did get to work with him yesterday and he got to wear what I have called a “big boy halter” for the first time. We opted to ditch the rope and try a normal halter. He did really good, tried turning into a giraffe a couple of times when I tried slipping it over his ears but we got it on after 3 or 4 tries and then he was cool with the whole ordeal.

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so much fluff.

I have gotten to the point with him that I feel like leading is no longer dangerous or risky. A month ago, even less than that honestly, it was. It was risky and scary at times because he would blow up. Luckily, my fears that stir up in the saddle on occasion go away on the ground and I’ve always prided myself on the abilities I have on the ground. I’ve dealt with very bad horses on the ground and I’m decent at groundwork. I knew that his behavior didn’t come from aggression, but from uncertainty. He had no clue what I was doing or what I was asking for. The first thing my trainer noted is he tries SO HARD to please his handler. Whoever is with him. He thinks about the situation hard and he really does try to do good all the time. When he figures things out, he’s golden.

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I’ve also been working on desensitizing with whips and throwing things over his back. I’ve had a saddle pad on him a number of times but he’s still not really a big fan of the whole getting it up there process. He’s fine after a moment or two, but still fidgety. I’ve started draping light stuff – a small english pad, my jacket, just random things – over his neck and dragging it until it is placed on his back. He’s nervous with whips unless I’m the one with them, in that case, he has pretty much stopped reacting to them. I can rub every part of his body with them with no negative reaction, and yesterday he even started following me and nudging the whip, being playful. He loves to play with muck rakes – he picks them up and carries them around, and he started doing that with the whips which I like because I know that fear is going away.

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His weight is near perfect now, mane and forelock are something straight out of my dreams can you imagine how long it’ll get?! He’s just a yearling! I can’t wait to get him on some Biomane when he’s a bit older, hahaha. Long manes and forelocks, GIMME.

I can go up to him all of the time in the pasture and touch him without him bolting, and 9 times out of 10 he comes to me. He’s PERFECT in the stall. My goal is to be able to start working on tying him by the end of next month. I wouldn’t consider him halter broke yet but we’re getting there. I think he’ll learn to tolerate tying just as easily he learned that stalls aren’t scary.

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I’m excited for summer because of longer days and better weather. He’s turning into a really good horse and I like him more and more every day. The more I work with him the more I’m sure that he’s going to make a great riding horse.

The Best Geldings.

I can’t even tell y’all how happy I am to have Red in normal work right now. I rode him on the 18th and he was fabulous. One of our best rides in a very long time. He was happy, responsive, very eager to work, and he felt great. You may have seen some posts on Instagram about the ride, but if not…

The ride was about two things- getting him more supple and making him work to get some muscle building up again. It was a short ride because I didn’t have a huge amount of time, but he was ready and happy to work. Our ride before this one was good, as I posted about, but I noticed that he wasn’t really lifting his back enough. Mostly, I imagine, from lack of muscle. This ride was much better, he was trying much harder to lift himself up and I tried my best to stay out of his way while he found a happy place. Not ideal yet, but it won’t be ideal until he has more muscle anyways. He was able to hold a really great trot for 99% of the ride.

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No helmet again, I’m the worst.

His back is obviously a bit more rounded than it was during the ride before last, and he seemed more relaxed. This trot came with very little help from me, which I was happy to see. No helmet again because I’ve been noticing that it has started to sit oddly on my head after it was dropped recently. I’ll be fixing this problem soon, but I’m going to continue to ride, just nothing crazy until that situation is fixed.

I asked for a stretchy trot a few different times, knowing it will be good for him to build up his topline and honestly, he seems to enjoy stretching out. We did this in the beginning of the ride then the end, and he’s really starting to understand it a bit better.

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I think I’m starting to see a lot of improvement on the trot front, and I’m just happy to have my riding horse back in action and seeming so willing to be back into work.

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Yesterday was Ransom’s day. I’m noticing a few exciting changes in his personality. He’s starting to act more like a gelding as opposed to an untouched stud colt, which makes me happy. 🙂 He let me put his halter on in the stall without any bribery involved, and was extremely calm during the whole haltering process. He’s always been a bit spooky when I toss the long part of the halter to tie it on the side, but yesterday was great. Very calm. I got him out to lead and he was more on the lazy side than anything,but I’ll take it. We did some leading and worked on engaging the hindquarters and then I brought out a crop from the tack room to see how he would react. I’m starting to handle his legs a lot more to prepare for farrier work, and the longer crop helps make this a lot safer. True to Ransom’s typical personality, he gave it the side eye and stepped away at first, then the second touch of the crop was no big deal. Eventually he was trying to get a nap in while I handled him.

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You can see the crop slightly in this, lol.

And then, he did something new. I stood there for a few minutes with the lead on him while I talked with my mother and our boarder, and looked over at him and he had dozed off right next to me. Huge, huge changes. Not a big deal for normal horses of course, Red will go to sleep in a second on the lead next to me if I sit there for too long, but Ransom is normally 100% alert and ready to bolt when he’s being led. Not yesterday.

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I worked on touching his back, his legs, belly, etc, and he did wonderful. By far the calmest session we’ve ever had. He never even thought of spooking.

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omg snuggly colt

As soon as the weather dries up again I’ll be taking him to the arena for the first time to get some desensitizing done with a bareback pad and some tarps! 😉