I have had a very busy weekend trying to clean out a few extra items from my home, but that's not really what I am going to bore you with.
No I want to tell you about our little hobby farm. I affectionately named "Two Chicks Farm" When my husband told me he was leaving back in late 2009 I began to think about what I wanted for myself and my children. This is how our farm began. My daughter LOVES horses (don't know where she got that from) so I decided that I was going to look for her a horse and allow her to start her show career. It so happened that my Aunt needed to get rid of some of her horses and this was her opportunity to send her favorite horse, Charly, to good hands.
She made me a deal I couldn't refuse, for the price of the appaloosa I would receive one horse free. A HUGE Paint named Cloud. (I love paints) This would afford me the ability to ride with her if she wanted to leave property so I took him. That seemed to spur it all!
About..., well now that I'm trying to think I can't remember not having them so, some amount of time later due to an abundance of grass we took on two more of my aunts horses. Just for the summer (so I though). Well my daughter had been whispering in there ear about a horse that she could run the barrels with. They listened! Another beautiful appaloosa girl. At the end of summer they came to pick up the 4th horse leaving us with 3. However, the amount of work that new appaloosa was going to require was unknown to us at that time. She's come a LONG way in a short time with just love, time and discipline.
Training by non horse girls. Don't get me wrong with that comment. I can ride a little, saddle, brush and pick feet. What I'm getting at is my daughter and I have never owned or had to care for horses. These three are our first experience. Our boys were pretty easy. Already trained just needed exercise to keep them in check. Well our girl "Meatball" (named due to her colors) had never had a rider to our knowledge. Were not sure she had ever had a saddle but it is possible as she came from a prison rescue.
Now I had been asked to ride her before she came to live with us and I got on her and she tried to do what I ask but I could tell that she was very new to commands from a rider. By some miracle she didn't throw me or act up and seemed to just want to please, as I was told when I dismounted that she'd never had a rider on her back! LOL (I can do that now)!
Well we rode her as much as possible inside our round pen. My daughter and she butted heads so I was tossed into doing a lot of the work in the beginning. I honestly took the same approach I take with my dogs. Calm and repetitive. (Shh don't tell anyone that I also used techniques I'd heard from the Horse Whisperer, the Dog Whisperer & my daughters riding instructor) Stopping when she accomplished a task was a HUGE thing for her. After a month or so, once I had her walking well and responding to the reigns I wanted to begin the trot. Here is where my daughter decided that she had figured her out and was going to step in and all I can say is THANK YOU GOD!
Before I tell you the rest I have to back up just a bit. Once she warmed up to us and realized that we were friendly and the providers of food, she became like a dog. Following us and wanting our attention. That is what let me know she was ready for training. The first step in her training was getting a halter or a bridle on her. This was the task that took the longest and probably where my daughter decided to step back. Meatball would not tolerate her ears to be touched. She would swing her head, shake or what ever it took to keep you out of reach of those ears. The halter was the easy part as it can be unhooked and wrapped around behind her ears. That bridle was ANOTHER story! It has to slide over those ears. I'm not going to drag this on as to how long and how many battles we had over it. My plan is to just fill you in on that last one.
The battle that won the war was a warm afternoon. I tried to relax and envision the final product. Guess I should have shown her the picture too! After 30 minutes of trying to slip that bridle on, using every angle I could think of, and loosing my temper (here is where I lost my horse whisperer status). I reached over to take the saddle off. I was done - quite - finished. Until I saw that her body/mind thought I had given up. I quickly finished getting the saddle off and slung it to the side and took advantage of her relaxed state and slipped that bridle up and over those ears! Moral to this story? Don't be afraid to try something so different that it makes them change their thinking.
First try at a trot went spectacularly! It was beauty in motion. My daughter and Meatball gracefully made their way round the pen. Day two - not so much. That crazy horse got a bug up her butt and started bucking. Not large buck and they were very controllable if you could gather the reigns back up and take her head away from her. After a few of them we figured out how to spot them and stop her from bucking at all. If she began to lower her head at all just gather the reigns. This is something that had to be stopped so it didn't become a bad habit.
Next was the canter - went about like above and was becoming controllable in just a matter of a couple of days. The next step for us was getting her off property for a ride. My daughter and I decided to take her favorite Cloud (my paint) to make her more comfortable. We were a little nervous because she had ran away from my aunt and plowed down some fencing on the way when they tried to take her with them on a trail ride (no rider). She did fantastic. That horse loved looking around and smelling new scents and pleasing us. It was and still is great to take her out. Meatball might even make a good cattle horse. Our neighbor keeps a small herd of cows and she seems to try to gravitate their direction.
Meatball is now a consistent low 20's in the barrels at just a good open run. We've not yet let her have her head since she still has some control issues. As you can see we have to break that bad habit of shaking her head in the turns. This horse will make an amazing barrel horse and my daughter and I will be able to beam with joy that we've done this ourselves from scratch! And I just love from scratch work.
Maybe I'll tell y'all about tomatoes tomorrow! Later