I have a lot to write about in terms of working the ladies this week, but this post (a request from McFawn) fits right in with that. Immy, P, and O are all very different now from when I first started working with them, not just in appearance but in personality as well. All of them came to me with various issues, and while they will all always have their individual quirks, they've all really changed for the better.
Part I: Pangea
Pangea came to me as a confident, obnoxious and entirely too self-assured boss mare. Having owned her father, I knew the personality type well (bold as brass, afraid of nothing, go-anywhere-do-anything ATV), but P came with the additional bonus of being a mare who had been able to do whatever she pleased. She had been living out with a herd, doing whatever she wanted, and prior to that had been ridden by her weeble-wobble adult ammy rider. She launched her rider more than once and broke some of her bones in the process (actually in her sale contract she came with a specific "bucker" clause), and her rider was terrified of her. When I went to go see her, I had to do everything myself - catch her in the field, tack her up, lunge her, ride her, all without knowing hardly anything about her. She was rude and pushy, but totally push-button under saddle. Somebody had taught her well, that much was obvious.
When I got her home, the first thing I did was install some manners. She had basically been allowed to do whatever she wanted, which ended immediately when she came to me. I'm strict when it comes to manners, I will be the first to admit it - you better not put a toe out of line or else you are going to get busted. I don't tolerate attitude, pushiness, moving into my space unwanted, dragging me around, lagging behind, barging ahead, wiggling while being worked with/tied/saddled/groomed/bathed/whatever, pawing, chewing, etc, etc, etc.... horses are too big and I am too small and I value my life too much to let them get away with the murder that so many people don't seem to care about! From day one, I let them know I am the Boss Mare, and that is the final word on it. P was no exception to this... she started out pawing for food (her old owner used to shove cookies into her mouth to get her to stop pawing, which effectively taught her to paw for cookies!), biting my trailer when being girthed up (she has huge white scarring on her withers from previous ill-fitting saddles), wiggling like crazy when being attended to, and barging forward when being led. Now, she stands like a lady and waits for her food, leads properly, stands quietly for everything (although she still hates being blanketed.... she doesn't do anything per se, but she stiffens up and narrows her eyes... she would rather be a wild naked animal!), and can even be trimmed while standing out in the field with no halter or anything. (Photo proof of that!) While she is bossy, she is not mean in any way, and would never make a face at people or give them attitude. She is the leader of the group of mares, but is totally benign in this role, and lets the lower ranking mares eat with her, hang out with her, and do everything that she does. Sometimes she moves them away with a mean face, and that's all she needs to do - they take right off and don't disturb her again. They are completely enamored with her, and are totally unable to function without her - they turn into Tweedledee and Tweedledum when she leaves, running around the field screaming their heads off for her. While she enjoys being fed cookies and snacks, she isn't particularly fond of coddling or being petted, and I get the impression that she only tolerates my grooming and doting because she knows she would get in trouble if she didn't! The only part of her that she really enjoys being fussed over is her ears - she will stand all day long and let you curry the insides of her ears. The harder and deeper the better! (She is exactly like her daddy in this respect - he would go to sleep when you would clip his ears! It was his favorite thing!)
She can still be a total pill under saddle, when you ask her to do something that she doesn't feel is necessary (like slowing down - the mare power walks with the best of them!). Since most of her work is now relegated to trails only, this isn't a problem most of the time - but once in awhile I really have to get after her and reminder her that NO, we don't have to walk at 10,000 miles an hour all the time! From the moment you hop on her, she is all march, and strides out away from home even faster than she does coming back. She hates bits of all shapes and sizes, but she goes like gangbusters in a bitless bridle or a bosal. (It's not a teeth issue, as it never changed after her teeth were done... I honestly think she just doesn't like bits, plain and simple!) Years of compensating for her old injury left her with a completely right-wards sway to her body - even her feet all flare to the right, all of them! - and she of course rides this way as well. She'll never be sound really, but she is very comfortable and happy to get around. She is really a solid citizen, a stand-up kind of old gal, and she is every bit her father's daughter.
Up next.... Immy!