Bareback, Babies & Baby Steps.

First “big” news, Ransom got to wear a halter for the first time on Monday and also let me lead him fairly well. He popped up once from the pressure and confusion, then did really well. I didn’t do much with him yesterday other than some grooming and whatnot, but today the halter will go back on and we’ll work with leading again. I continue to be very impressed with his little baby horse mind. I did spend some time with him yesterday messing with his legs and feet and he did really well with it.

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I also threw around a big, scary red frisbee and while it freaked the other horses out, he snorted once, sniffed it and was cool.

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He wont be sent for training until he’s about 3 and a half, but never too early to get used to weird things being on the back, right? 😉

Yesterday was mostly devoted to Red. He’s been a bit stiffer this winter from the cold weather, not bad but he needs to get out and move around more, so I gave him a good brush down, gave him his thrush medication (I’ve now been able to lower the dose of Tomorrow and I don’t have to use it as often, woohoo!) and did some massage type stuff that my chiro taught me. He sat and yawned and licked and then I hopped on him bareback for a nice little 25-30 minute ride. Warmed up at the walk and he wanted to pick up the trot and he was surprisingly very well behaved. We also did a bit of groundwork/hand walking beforehand and he did great for that too. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any sort of work other than a calm walk around bareback, so my legs are protesting today, lol. Did some trot circles and let him make some laps around the arena and he felt great.

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I was actually pretty impressed with my seat bareback too…I need to do more of it!

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Planning on more work with Ransom today and some groundwork with Red, maybe another bareback ride if I get the

 

Big Baby Horse Comes Home!

I have to admit, I was extremely nervous after writing my last post. Number 1, I was wondering how the ever so critical horse folks (I love being a horse person, but y’all know it’s true) would take it considering I’ve been very real here when it comes to how I struggle as a rider/horse person. I’ve received some negativity, but only from a group of kids from Instagram that I won’t worry about. Number 2, it’s easy for me to let doubt kind of plague my mind after I make a big decision, and I spent a couple nights tossing and turning, wondering if I made a terrible decision, if he’d end up being too much for me to handle, yadayada. Luckily for me, I have multiple trainers helping me out and I’ve been able to make some connections with some awesome people lately so I’m not doing this alone. Luckily for me, my fears based on the colt, Ransom, were taken away pretty quickly when he got home the day before yesterday. He had never had any sort of handling up until a week ago, and that was only a touch here and there. Definitely never been hauled. He got right in the trailer, rode great, then hopped right off the trailer when he got home. He’s gotten along great with my donkey and even our dwarf mini, who literally tried to attack him immediately, which, in hindsight, was hilarious. 28 inches of dwarf vs. huge yearling. He has been so well-mannered, I haven’t had a problem out of him. He did have a bad case of loose stool but that’s been cleared up already, and he’s a tad underweight for a few reasons but I’m not concerned. The first day, he was antsy and would let me pet him but that’s about it, yesterday, he was definitely improving and meeting me in the pasture for pets and letting me brush him down, today he was so loving he became a pest pretty quick…but I won’t complain.

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There was a squeal, then total silence, then Red walked off and they’ve made a habit of playing over the gate very gently, so I think they’ll be buds.

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I’ve had the halter on already but no leading quite yet. I plan on trying to start that tomorrow, but it’s been pouring rain so that has limited me a bit. So far, he’s taken everything in stride. He’s not bothered by cars or the UTV, he was very uneasy with the stall at first if someone was close by but great being stalled for the first time when he was alone. Today, he let me in to muck out the stall and didn’t react at all to me being there. In fact, he decided to follow me for the entire hour I spent cleaning stalls, and when I would stand still for a second, he’d either start playing with my hat or trying to play with the rake.

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This was as close as I could get on day 1 without him darting away.
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Then he decided to try climbing in the car with me the next day. (Broken mirror from a car accident,not a horse, LOL)

He’s very interested in playing and definitely starting to show off a sweet baby personality, so I threw our jolly ball that the big horses never play with into his pasture and I’m hoping he’ll have fun with it. So far, I have seen nothing out of him that I don’t like. He’s a tad fidgety and spooky still but honestly, our mare Gracie is worse than him, lol. I’ve picked up both front  hooves and he acts like he couldn’t care less. Only time I’ve seen a full blown spook is when someone tossed a flake of hay into his stall and he didn’t notice them, and he sort of pranced around for a minute before he started eating again.

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So, long story short, the kid is settling in great, better than I imagined by far, and I’m really wondering if he could end up being another very, very special member to the family. I won’t be able to say for sure until he’s around 4 and getting broke,but I really like this dude and I think he may end up being my next permanent riding horse.

Meet Ransom.

People have always said that horses are like potato chips, and you can’t only have one. I’ve argued with that before, but then I ended up with a ginormous yearling last night.

Backstory; I’ve been looking very casually for a weanling or yearling. My plan was to start them up on the ground, then at the age of 2 and a half or 3, rehome to someone good. I love doing groundwork and I think that it would be a great way to push me forward to learn more, and I’ve had a wonderful trainer offer to help me out in any ways that I need, so I’m not in this alone. (Along with my mother, who has started a lot of babies.) It’s been about a year, and my search has been very casual. I’ve looked at a few just from word of mouth, but on Saturday, I posted an ad saying that I was searching for something. My ideal was this-an early yearling, filly, preferably not a sorrel or bay because I wanted something different in my pasture. I preferred registered just because if my plan ended up as I figured it would, it would be a resell project and registered horses are easier to sell.

Then, I got a message.

More backstory, I had a man come out and haul Blossom the donkey for me and he ended up buying a jack from them. He stopped by his place first to drop his jack off, and offered to let me see his horses while we waited. He has Quarter/Draft horses, a cross that I never thought I’d like because I’m not a draft person, but these horses are amazing. The best minds, beautiful conformation. They’re gorgeous and big but still have a lot of the quarter horse traits. Beautiful fluid movement, nice pretty heads, and quarter horse feet. The dam of the colt that I got is half draft/half quarter, and she’s a red dun. The sire is supposedly the last son out of Bar Money, a very influential Quarter Horse stallion, son of Three Bars. I’ll see the papers next time I go out. This stud is beautiful and so, so sweet for an older stud. There are some great lines in this horse’s pedigree and also great minds. He said that he’s had several siblings/half siblings and he’s never had a buck or rear out of them when he starts them. He claims that he puts a couple rides on, and they might as well be considered broke because they’re that calm and docile. Several people that I respect back him up on this, and after meeting his sisters, dam and sire, I could definitely see the sweet personality. They’re all coming to greet you and very respectful of your space.

“Ransom Money” just turned a year and will-hopefully-be gelded then come right home. We’re trying to schedule a vet to come out and if one can’t come out in the next few days, we’ve got to go ahead and get him home because he’s going out of town in a week or so and doesn’t want to leave him behind doing nothing. His dam was 16.2-16.3 and sire is also quite tall. We measured his cannon bone to estimate growth and it says he should mature to around 16.1. He’s a very big yearling and needs to catch up with his height a bit, so he’s slightly underweight. The owner says that all of his bigger yearlings do that and when they hit about a year and a half-two years old, they get out of the awkward stage pretty quickly.

He has gorgeous leg bars and a dorsal stripe down his back, but he’s so disgusting and dirty from the recent rain and apparently, he likes rolling around, you can hardly see them. Also one white sock and I think a hint of white on his other leg around the coronet band, I’ll be able to tell more when I can clean him up.  Despite his size, his head is really cute and has a nice little dish, and he definitely inherited the cute little quarter horse ears. He’s had very little handling so not halter broke, although judging by his personality and how he warmed up to me in minutes, I doubt I’m going to have very much trouble.

So, as of now, I’m eager to get him home and get him settled in so I can start work! And I’m eager to groom him…yikes, that tail. And winter fluff. Omg.

Also…he has my favorite face markings, a star and snip. I have a type.

BB FACE

 

 

So Energy. Many Bolt. Much Attitude.

Good news! Red’s lameness issues has been narrowed down to the return of deep sulcus thrush, because apparently, farriers hate me and never tell me “Hey, there’s thrush about a million inches down here btw.” Long story short, he developed a heel crack which is a sure sign of thrush in the deep sulcus. Bad news, that means it was very deep. Good news, the crack gave me clarity on what was happening with my horse and also gave me an opening to shoot Tomorrow in to kill the thrush.

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dear thrush.

He was sound a day after, back to galloping around and being a total weirdo in the pasture. Also cleared for riding, which is great because I’m convinced that if I had to wait another day, his brain would be completely gone as opposed to only 97% gone like yesterday.

I’ve been having a bad case of “I don’t want to ride or mess with horses because they keep going lame and I’m going to sell them all and be a crazy cat lady instead” aka I had gotten very burned out on horses. I ended up watching a few things, talking with some people, then buying a Buck Brannaman book and I was reminded of why I love horses to begin with, and I dedicated myself to getting back to where I used to be, both passion wise and confidence wise. I gave myself two extra days off, then I rode my horse for the first time in weeks yesterday. I forced myself to be brave and took him to the field and trails instead of the arena, and instead of using my safety blanket-aka mechanical hack with shanks-I used the bosal. Less breaks, but he’s solid enough to ride out in it as long as I stay brave and try to be a good rider. Instead of slamming on breaks, I have to resolve to do something to fix the problem instead of stop and dismount or stop and go straight to the arena,my other safety blanket.

 Made it to the top of the hill a bit quicker than planned because he decided running was a better choice than walking calmly.

He bolted me up the hill for the first time and was basically completely blowing me off until we made it to the top and I twisted him into a circle and halted, let him get his brain back, and we did some circles at the top of the hill. Brightside-we did our first canter in awhile without him bucking, bad side, I didn’t want to canter, and it was completely fast and out of control. My mother, riding behind on Gracie, asked if I wanted to switch horses and let her work out Red’s kinks.Mom language for, “I know you’re probably freaking out and I’ll ride him for you so you don’t freak out even more.” I refused, and made him do another lap around the field without any bolting. Got bolted two more times, this time just a very fast and sloppy trot, and we made another lap without bolting, then I took him to the arena to try to find his brain. Maybe we left it in the barn. 😉

“Hi, I’m Gracie and I get ridden once a month bareback in a halter if I’m lucky and I’m always perfect and love everyone and riding and eating and being cute.”

Getting into the arena without dismounting was fun. Red bolted me around the arena a few times, now devoted to getting back into the pasture with Stormie the mare instead of going to work more. Stormie wasn’t making matters any easier considering she was galloping around everywhere. Eventually, although he bolted me past the gate a couple of times, we got in the arena and I let him run off some energy. AKA, he was stupid and crazy for 5 more minutes and then I made him actually do stuff. Took a few circles and a lot of halting and “hey dude YOU ARE ACTUALLY A BROKE HORSE” and then he trotted pretty and started behaving.

Some good notes that I made sure to notice during my ride so I didn’t get overwhelmed with the negative and the fact that my broke horse forgot how to be a broke horse for a little bit.

  • I didn’t die, even though my mind has tried telling me that dying is the only option while riding a hard to handle horse.
  • Red feels fine. Yay? Totally recovered from our months of problems!
  • Despite being stupid, his ride has changed dramatically in the last few rides, even as sparse as they’ve been. He’s really learning how to use himself now.

Took us awhile  to be able to walk around calmly, but eventually, he started chilling out and I felt good enough to go ahead and ask for some trot again, this time no bolting was involved.

So much dust on that horse omg.
Reminding me why I keep this jerkface around.

Then I asked for him to stretch himself out and relax, something that we’ve just started working on. I’ve been really inspired by some dressage work, which is where the stretchy trot kind of came from, to promote more self carriage and to get him to learn how to use his body in different ways. It’s been a hot mess, until yesterday. I accidentally kept my lead from the bosal tied, which resulted in it being a bit too tight (Bad horse mom, such horrible horsemanship) and I had to stop him in the middle of it to untie it so he had less pressure, but he picked it right back up and I was really impressed.

Didn’t expect him to go so low, loosened my reins more to give him release I promise 😉

It’s really nice to see that he is capable of doing this type of work now. He’s starting to grasp things constantly now, like his mind is always churning and he’s actively trying to figure out what I want. My cues are clearer, and he is so responsive in the bosal when he has been allowed to burn out energy. Looking back, I should have lunged him first. He always acts up more in colder weather, and he hasn’t been worked much at all, so I should’ve expected attitude and lots of energy. Can’t be mad though, because after he was calmed down, he really did perform well.

He’s slowly becoming the type of horse that I love to ride-low headsets, nice stretchy and relaxed trot. I think with a lot more time and training he’d make a wonderful ranch pleasure type of prospect. We’ll see. I have a lesson planned with a great trainer for whenever weather clears up, and we’ll be working on the canter. I want to get a few more good rides in to get him back into normal work and a good schedule before though.

I’m proud. We’ve had two lessons together in 4 years, and he is 99% made by me. He was trained before, but I’ve retrained him completely, and almost completely by myself. I’m getting proud of the work that I’ve done here. He’s turning into a solid horse, despite the shenanigans, but I doubt that any horse with the tendency of getting hot behaves well after being off of work basically since June, save for 4-5 rides inbetween.

The Worst Luck.

A couple of weeks after I posted last, Red went lame again. He was still walking and running around like usual, more on the gimpy side than just completely lame, and I immediately suspected more thrush. Sure enough, it went away after I treated it with thrush medication. Long story short, despite me keeping his hooves clean (cleaning daily, making sure there is nothing at all in his feet twice a day.) to prevent the thrush, it keeps coming back. I finally talked with a farrier, not my own, and sent photos of his feet, explained the situation and what is going on, and then got a few more opinions after that, and we’re all sure that he’s having these issues because of bad trims.His frog is messed up, his heel and bars are way overgrown, especially considering he’s on a 6 week schedule and we’re never more than a couple days late. He has a very thin crack in his heel which is where the thrush is getting in, and it’s so small, it’s impossible for me to clean it out properly. I started using the smaller syringes of ToMorrow because I can squeeze the tip into that crack and it seems to have helped him immensely. He’s back to 100% and has been off of the ToMorrow for a few days now.

While I’m thankful that this isn’t a bigger issue and the biggest thing that he should need is a set of front shoes for awhile so his hooves are protected after a good trim and he isn’t walking on his sole, I’m still miserable because this puts off riding, yet again.

I’m ready for my luck to get better. Anyyyy day now.

First Ride of November

I’ve neglected this blog majorly. I’d like to have something good to blame that on, but I don’t. I’ve been riding bareback and haven’t touched my saddle in like, a month, but I have been doing things.

Okay, I’ve been walking around on Red. That’s about it. But it’s still riding. We did get out of the arena the other day and had a nice little bareback hack. I’m starting to get more confidence on him and he seems to be back to his normal self, but I’ve still put off tacking up for an actual ride. In my head, he’s not ready for actual work even though he definitely is, and any time I get myself excited to ride, I walk outside and nearly die of a heat stroke within minutes. It is literally 90 degrees and it’s flippin November. I’d post about my bareback rides, but they are very boring and I really saw no need to update y’all on how many laps around the arena we made a couple days ago or how I forgot to change out of my jeans before going into a store after one very long bareback ride and I got a lot of weird looks and I wondered why until someone said, “Wow, your pants are dirty.”

Whoops.

But I actually tacked my horse up today. I spent 5 minutes in the tack room debating on what bridle I wanted on him. He hadn’t been seriously worked in months other than one ride, so I considered the shanked hack so I would have better brakes in case he decided to buck around like our first real ride back. Then I considered the Little S…but that is our trail ride bridle for just poking around and I wanted to do more than just poke considering that’s all we’ve been doing for months. Then, the bosal fell on top of my head-literally-and I thought “what the heck” and grabbed it, deciding to work more on our trot and collection. This seems like the only thing we work on ever, but in my defense, we starting working on canter right before he decided to blow the first abscess from hell and he’s not ready to canter yet because OH MY GOSH SO MUCH ENERGY. We’ll be back there soon, I think, but until now…slow work. I don’t want to die.

I got on and asked for a walk. He was cool with that until he wasn’t, and then he tried bolting around. I feel weird saying this because bolting is bad, obviously, but he wasn’t really out of control…just very energetic. So, I made him halt, made him walk a couple laps, and basically just gave him rein and let him burn energy and we ran around aimlessly for a bit until I picked my reins up and asked for something nice and not giraffe like.

I’m not sure why I look like a chicken.
*spooks at muck rake*

So we slowed down to a walk again, I made him flex a bit to get him used to the bosal again, we did some spins-I’m really working with getting him more supple and better with releasing his head to me. He’s naturally very stiff and likes to brace against everything and I really like a nice, supple ride. He was bad with this in the beginning but after a few flexes he seemed to soften up and did really well with turning and backing on a very loose rein. I like to be able to do anything with a light touch and that is not the kind of ride Red is naturally so even though it seems simple, it hasn’t been easy to get him to be soft.

Then, I asked him to trot again and my jaw nearly dropped. Second ride back into work. The last one was weeks ago. This is a shot from our first lap around:

I like this. He was very comfortable here, trot felt very nice (I need to stop leaning forward) and his head is in a pretty nice position here. I do want to see his back rounded more.

The trot was very nice, better than I expected because normally after a couple days off, our first lap is very giraffe like. This very much resembled a respectable trot. And then…I let him walk another lap and asked him to pick up the trot again and he proceeded to move like this for the rest of the ride:

We did another lap…

By this time I loosened my reins and gave him as much release as possible as a quick reward so he knew he was doing good. My EQ still sucks.

Y’all know that I’ve been trying to get his head lower and his back rounded for a very long time. He’s done it every so often for about 4-5 steps then stops. Today is the first time that he has done it for a complete lap without breaking it. Actually, he did it for multiple laps around the arena. While my EQ is absolutely horrible, he was rocking it. The trot felt extremely comfortable and he felt so light in my hands. Really happy with how he’s working in the bosal.

We still have things to polish and fix, and the canter has remained nearly untouched, but man, I’m really impressed.

No More Comfort Zones.

I’ve always dreamed of being able to ride bareback with ease. As a younger girl, before I actually got into horses and started riding, I was just amazed at the natural/liberty horsemanship guru’s. I watched the videos of Stacy Westfall riding her mare bareback and bridleless and thought “That will be my thing.” Some people wanted to be show jumpers, some wanted to be barrel racers, I wanted to focus on liberty and being “one with the horse.” Now, I see that I need a bigger foundation. I have to be able to master things in the tack. That’s important. Real training is important, and I can’t just fast forward straight into the galloping through fields bareback and bridleless. But I’ve also lost sight of who I am and what my dreams are because of my fears. Deep down, I still love that type of horsemanship that drew me in years ago. It still ties in to who I am. Following the horse’s lead, becoming partners in a very deep way, it goes right along the lines of my other passion which is rescuing and rehabilitating abused and neglected horses. Oddly enough, Gracie, the chestnut mare, is the thing that reminded me of this. This horse thrives in a liberty type of situation. I worked with her once, and within minutes, I had her doing the most incredible things on the ground at liberty with no halter, no whip, no lead. I mean, she backs up with me, sidepasses with me, turns with me, follows me, even sets herself up at the mounting block with me. The first time I worked with her like this, I felt like I was the kid in the movie Black Beauty. It’s cool to find a horse that can make you feel like that. Red made me feel like that at one point, and I realized just this week that it wasn’t his fault that I didn’t feel like that anymore. It wasn’t his fault that I lost my trust in him. He did nothing that should have inspired fear, or any sort of lack of trust. That’s on me.

First ride in the bosal was also done bareback because this horse is so stinkin good.

Gracie is this incredibly good horse. She has a good heart, she’s sweet, she wouldn’t hurt a fly. She has a very eager to please personally. Although she’s very lazy under saddle, it’s just pure laziness, no bad behavior, and if you ask her to knock it off, she will. She has no buck or bite or bolt in her, no mean bone in her body. She’s just a good horse. I’ve ridden her a total of 4 times (although she’s been ridden a lot more here, just not by me) and already, I trust her enough to go hop on her bareback and in a halter in the field. She’s not going to do a thing, and I trust her.

Oddly enough, I used to have that same kind of trust in Red but it has disappeared. Why? I want to blame it on his random fits that he tends to throw. The little “I’m going to crowhop” or “I’m just going to stop and ignore you” types of things. But I don’t think that’s it. Those things have always happened with Red, it’s Red. Those things didn’t used to stop me from being fearless with him, from letting him literally be my best friend and partner. I’d hop on him and ride him to the barn with nothing on, with no fear. Where did that go? Somewhere along the line, I got nervous, and I stopped trying. I got back on the horse, obviously, but my mind really never mounted up again after that. I got scared, and I let myself disconnect. Red has been paying for that, which sucks for him because he’s still trying. When he was blowing that second abscess and miserable, I was the only thing he’d walk for. He wouldn’t walk for food. Wouldn’t walk on a lead for anyone. But if I sat there and called for him, he’d slowly make his way to me. When he went lame a couple winter’s back, it was the same thing. He’d walk through anything for me, not so much for anyone else. So why is it that I would mount a mare that I don’t even know that well yet, in a bosal (something new, something I didn’t know how she’d react over) and bareback (which has always terrified me) but I wouldn’t do that with Red?

Is it because I have a connection with her that I don’t have with Red anymore? I don’t think so. I want this with Red more than anything, and still, while Gracie is fun, and she’s great, and she’s a confidence builder, she’s never felt like my horse. She isn’t, but I really don’t think I’d ever get that feeling with her. I’ve had that with Red since the beginning. Red and I are partners, we go together, we always have. So what’s up with me? I stopped trying completely. I just quit. Out of fear, out of a lack of confidence, maybe, I started listening to people too much. People are doubters, they always have been, especially over my horse. I never listened to them before, but somewhere along the line, I started to. I lost my passion for him, and I used hard training as a way to make up for it. I tacked him up and every time we rode, it was about bettering ourselves as far as training went. Better EQ, collection, headset, and so on. But I stopped riding for myself. I lost track of why I started to ride to begin with.

I kept thinking…with Gracie, I can get on her bareback and in a bosal and feel comfortable. At ease. Then, I started trying to pinpoint the difference in her and Red. Red is much higher energy. While he isn’t a hot TB by any means, he has his moments of pure energy, but still, he has never let himself get away with me or do anything bad out of that. He may crowhop once, but he can contain himself. He knows that he has to have permission to do anything, and he respects me. I thought back on all of the “bad rides” that scared me…the ride that made me stop riding him in the bosal, and tried thinking “What did he do to make me so scared?” and I realized something…he never did anything. His ears were a bit more perked, he was a bit more excitable, but he never got carried away with me. He was happy, and I got mad at him for that. What even, Kalin? So yesterday, I tested something.

I got on my horse bareback and in the bosal, and nothing happened. I walked him around, he respected me and my limits that I set out, and everything was fine. Completely okay. In fact, he behaved better than Gracie did on all three of our recent rides. Again I asked myself, “Why on earth am I scared?”

Am I scared of him throwing me? Because he never has. Really, he’s never tried. He’s thrown a buck or two, but I’ve seen the most deadbroke horses ever do that. He’s very, very easy to get a hold of after those moments, he does them, then he’s apologetic that very second after. He knows when he does wrong. Am I scared of him bolting or something? He never has. I’ve spent all this time trying to plan out how to stop him from doing stuff that he’s never done, ever, and I’ve made a completely different horse in my mind. One that is the opposite of the horse in my pasture.

So I decided that I’m going to be going back to my roots for awhile. Focusing on getting my trust back with this horse until we move on with anything else. Even if it means forgetting that tack exists for awhile until I’m back to how I used to be-running around bareback with my partner and not relying on my saddle or big hack to keep me safe. We’ll see how it goes, but so far, I’m a heck of a lot more positive than I was the day before yesterday.