August 1, 2020 at 8:03 pm #4839CassieParticipant
So I’ve got 2 horses and I’m going to try to go through this challenge with both of them. I think it will be really interesting to see how they each react to these exercises because I know it will be totally different!
First: Jax the Pony
Jax is about 14 years old and he is a pony gelding. I think he’s probably a mix of Quarter Pony and Welsh. He’s 13.1hh and is an adorable Palomino. I bought him 2 years ago for my kids (and maybe a little for myself). He was an “internet purchase”, LOL! My first time. I’m not sure the seller was totally forthcoming about him…but he’s mine now, so…
He’s actually decent on the ground. He doesn’t like the vet though! When the vet comes to give him a shot, he is very jumpy. Probably had a bad experience. He wasn’t really solid on the lunge line when I first got him. He was good about going forward but didn’t understand “whoa”. Like he’d slow down to a walk but I’d say ‘Whoa’, ‘Ho’, ‘Stop’, ‘Halt’, and nothing! I felt like he spoke a different language, like Russian maybe. 😉 Eventually he started to get the ‘Whoa’ thing but it took a while. So there’s obviously some holes in his foundation. One time when I was lunging him, he turned his butt toward me and kicked out at me!! I corrected him and we moved on and he hasn’t done it since. Then when I’d ride him (and also when my neighbor’s kid would ride him) he’d buck and randomly refuse to go forward. He hasn’t done that with my kids though (but then again I haven’t felt like he’s safe enough to put them on him much and when I’ve done so it’s only been for basically a pony ride). And when I go to trot him in-hand he occasionally tries to nip at me! So my point is that he tries to be bossy. He’s easily put back in his place but he still will occasionally try. He is very dominant with my Arabian mare and even beat her up badly one time so that’s another sign of his little demonic personality. He’s so sweet though. I just love him! Am I crazy?!
My goal with Jax is to fill in all the gaps in his training and turn him into a kid-safe pony.
Second: Kharessa tha Arabian mare
Kharessa is my Arabian mare. She is 13, very athletic, and like most Arabians extremely sensitive. Kharessa was my friend’s horse, and my friend is a reputable Arabian and NSH breeder and trainer. I knew Kharessa from when she was born until she was a yearling and then, years later, my friend gave her to me (about 18 months ago).
Kharessa’s backstory is that she had a great start and was ridden regularly until she was maybe 6 or 7. She used to be the horse that my friend could put non-horse people on and they’d go trail ride together. She was considered very safe, not spooky, and laid back. And then my friend had health problems and had been reducing her herd, riding less, and Kharessa basically sat for a couple years without being ridden. Then, a local trainer started riding Kharessa to see if she’d be suitable for a client of hers. After a week or two my friend realized that this trainer and Kharessa were not a good match and that the trainer had been too harsh with her. Ever since then, she said, Kharessa had started behaving in ways that were not normal for her. Rearing, bolting, acting very timid and spooky, going around with her head in the air avoiding the bit, etc. She then went for a couple more years without much riding. It was then that she asked if I wanted her because she had so much potential but my friend didn’t have the time or ability with her own health and physical problems.
Kharessa spent her whole life at my friend’s place so it has taken some time to get her adjusted to my place which is different in MANY ways! And she has unfortunately developed some stable vices (She paces and stall walks) 🙁 I gave her a couple months to chill and settle in, where we just did grooming, bonding, lunging. It was more attention than she’d gotten in the last few years even if it wasn’t much! The first few times I rode her I had very low expectations. We only walked and trotted (my friend warned me there were issues with cantering) and I did notice the issue of avoiding the bit, but I didn’t push her; I only did what I felt would be an easy ask. I had a vet out here to float her teeth in case that was the problem with accepting the bit and I also changed to a copper bit that is very mild. Then I got a trainer here and took some lessons. Kharessa was very tense; jiggy at the walk, still avoiding the bit, spooking at least once a lesson but not badly. One time in between lessons when I lunged her she randomly bolted and dragged me all over the place! I’ve had horses do a bit of that on the lunge line occasionally but never to where I felt like I might lose my grip!! I slowly reeled her in until she broke down to a walk. After that, she tried to do it the next few times I lunged her. Then next time I got a brain and bridled her up, put the lunge line chain over her poll and connected it to the outside bit for more control “just in case”. Well, she tried to bolt again, but this time I was able to stop it almost right away. I haven’t lunged her without the chain since though because I still don’t quite trust her. Anyway, my lessons unfortunately came to an end after a few months and I’ve been working with her on my own since (for almost a year now). Since then, she has accepted contact with the bit beautifully. We have cantered a little bit. Only from long trotting and then cuing her and then going back to trot after max 10 strides. Kind of like with a green horse. She has never reared with me, but she has spooked badly (at random, imperceptible things, and her go-to move is bolting and then bucking). I managed to stay on except for the last time. After I fell off my whole body hurt for 3 days, which I think was mainly due to the effort in trying to STAY ON. Of course I’d gotten right back on and rode for another 20 minutes or so, without incident, but I’m ashamed to say I haven’t gotten on since. And that was right before Covid. After Covid then I thought ‘Well, if I fall off I might have to go to the hospital and that’s the last place I wanna be right now in the middle of this Covid outbreak!’. But I know that’s just a dumb excuse. I’m scared! I know I shouldn’t be but I am. I hadn’t fallen off for 10 years. And 10 years ago I knocked myself unconscious and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. So yeah, I’m scared of that. I think that if I had a horse that was more predictable I might feel more confident. I really like other aspects of her personality – she’s very sweet and personable; I know she wants to bond and please me – but I don’t feel confident riding her. I’d like to fix it. Ugh please somebody help me! LOL
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