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March 2012

Brymstone's Quincy after the winter

Quincy negotiating stream

My friend Marguerite has been boarding Quincy for the winter.  She needed a companion pony for her horse Donovan.  At the first sign of good weather and enough daylight,  we vowed to start riding together.  The only trail we knew was up-up-and more up.  The horses had to take a few breaks to conquer the ascent after a winter of lounging around.  

A section of  Donovan and Quincy's pasture is next to a fairly major road into Springfield.  It was an easy way for me to expose Quincy  to heavy traffic.  This paid off when Marguerite and I rode our trusty steeds down Route 11 into town and up by the hospital.  The tractor trailers were not a problem,  but manhole covers did catch our horses' attention.  By the third one,  the covers were not that interesting.

Marguerite & Donovan


Behind Door Number One...

117_0705Sometimes in a person's life,  one has to figure out if the horse you have is compatible with you, or if you should move on. Sounds a little like a relationship with a person, huh?  Since I am not Ann Landers,  I won't go there.  Usually,  in my job,  the factors involved with compatibility are the owners time, experience and drive.  If the horse is too much for the owner and he/she doesn't want to make the effort,  don't beat a dead horse,  no pun intended.

 My current horse/owner relationship has a couple of curve balls.  For one,  the horse is going blind. Secondly,  the horse had a traumatic experience that has led it to be unnerved.  Thirdly,  the owner admits she could be having a negative effect on the horse's behavior.  With these three variables,  I have to figure out where the problem stems from and how to bring harmony back to the situation.  Being an optimist,  I  want to fix the problem.  Unfortunately, fixing the problem isn't always keeping the horse and owner together,  even if they have been together for ten years...

Luka is a ten year old Quarter Horse mare. My experience has led me to feel that  Quarter Horse mares are not the easiest to work with due to their high intelligence.  I always relate them to Husky sled dogs,  great dogs when they have a job,    usually in trouble  when they don't.  Quarter Horses are bred to work.  When not on  cattle or trail,  un-employment leads them to misery  and they  start causing trouble,  mares are even worse.  I felt Luka was a smart one,  she was not being challenged enough.  I have only had her a week at my farm,   my feelings can still change.  I need to spend some time with her owner and find out where she stands.  

Jack and Jill Go Up the Hill

Jack trotting

   When a horse is sent out for training,  sometimes only the techniques of riding or driving is thought of.  There is a much broader picture involved than just that.  For starters, horses need to learn self- confidence and how to  adjust to new surroundings.  As Jack and Jill have come to my farm to learn this,  I have sent my 5 year old Cleveland Bay-TB cross out to a friend's farm to learn the same things.  

    For starters,  J & J needed to learn how to leave the paddock through a rattling metal gate with out darting.  On top of that,  they had to believe me that only one horse was allowed to leave at a time.  A panic stricken horse was always being left behind, whinnying and running around.  Jack and Jill had serious separation anxiety,  not uncommon for many horses.   Now, catching these horses and quietly leaving the paddock to go to work doesn't even cross my mind as an issue.

Jack learning to change eyes

 Our next  dilemma was them trusting me that I wasn't out to attack them at my every move.  These horses flinched at brushes let,  alone harness or saddle.  Most horses seem to get over issues like these in a session or two of desensitising.  For Jack, he was  sure I was out to kill him for a good three weeks.  I needed to make sure he could stand through sudden movements or clumsy equipment being dropped at his feet before he was ever to get to the hands of someone less experienced than I.  Technically, these horses were a fast learner.  As for confidence building,  it was a much longer hill to climb.  The day I threw the harness on Jack with his hind foot relaxed I couldn't have felt better.    Trust between them and me was way more important than having them further along in their "training".