Our monthly recap is right on time - and I even started writing it early, and saved for publishing today! Success is an exciting motivator, and it feels really good to be doing something that both she and I are really enjoying. We've played with A LOT of things over the past year, and it has been hard to find something that we both find to be fun. I love to event and do dressage, but O likes neither, even though god knows I tried every trick in the book to make it fun for her. She thought endurance was great, but I didn't enjoy it at all. Barrels was pretty fun for both of us, but I can't in good conscience go hammering on her shredding her legs around barrels. It's too hard on them, and her legs are crooked and blemished enough already as it is. I'd like to be around and sound for awhile! The other fun sports we did, like cow work/rope work/poles/jumpers, were all enjoyable but were not things I'd bother with seriously. Driving is something I hope we can actually get into more seriously, as she seems to enjoy all of the groundwork so far and it is something I have ALWAYS wanted to get into! The only two major problems I am facing with driving are a) it's extremely expensive to get into, and b) it's a good idea to have a second person along for the ride as a groom. If you get into sports like combined driving, you are required to have a groom/navigator along for the ride. And I... don't like people much. I like to do things alone. Riding is in no way a social sport for me - if I do go out and ride with friends, it's just in a trail riding be-bopping kind of way, nothing serious. If I am knuckling down to proper work, I want to be left alone with my horse. Ah well, safety first!
1) Continue to solidify long lining basics - walk/trot, whoa, turns, backing, and walking down the road/on the trail
Success! Easy-peasy. She's an old pro at long lining now. She does it all in full harness with blinders too! Walk-trot-canter, whoa and stand, all shapes and sizes of turns, backing, going down the road with blinders.... it's all old hat to her now. She is happy to take a contact and get a nice goobery mouth as well.
2) Find a good local driving trainer!
Success! Well, kinda anyway. I managed to hunt down the only recommended trainer within a 200 mile radius of me. There are a *few* others out there, but I was told that they were old school cowboys and that they should be avoided. As I am keen to make all of O's preliminary driving training experiences overwhelmingly positive, I have no problems with staying away from smack-em-around cowboys. Some cowboys are great, I'm sure, but then there are others who will happily tarp my red horse the second she disagrees with them, and that's a risk I'm not willing to take. (If you're wondering what tarping is: take a cantankerous horse out to your outdoor arena on a 100+ degree day, rope them and lay them down, tie their legs together, and cover them with a blue tarp for several hours. If they're not dead by the end of it, then you get on and ride the snot out of them until they are gentle and/or mostly dead. Yes, some people really do that around here, and they think it's normal.) Unfortunately, my only local trainer doesn't have an arena herself, and doesn't come out my way for lessons. So I'm stuck again for now... which sucks.
3) Possibly search for a decent training harness - nothing fancy, just comfortable and useful - and start to lunge/long line in it
Success! I got my hands on a decent leather training harness, and while it is nothing special and is also a hair too big (she'll need a cob size instead of a horse size), it gets the job done for now. She is going well in it, crupper and blinders included.
4) Introduce dragging
Success! O has dragged a tire several times with no fuss at the walk and trot, and has also dragged PVC false shafts as well at the walk. She dragged them first in an open bridle so that she could see them, and then again with the blinders on, and she didn't care.
5) Continue with bodywork!
Success! She saw the bodyworker again this month, and I think it did her some good. She also has been mostly doing training type stuff this month - I literally haven't ridden her at all in several weeks, despite working with her on the ground every day - so her body is getting a break from fitness stuff as well. I think it is important not to overtax their bodies or brains when you're teaching them something new, because tired bodies can quickly become sore bodies and lead to frustration and bad associations. Learning to pull stuff is hard work! Breaking things down into bite-size pieces so that both her body and brain can process is important. That goes for me too - it's hard to figure all of these new skills out!
Overall it was a resoundingly successful month. We went far beyond what I expected we would do! She has just been so easy - she is so chill, so quiet, so unconcerned with everything we've done. I'm trying to take great care to make sure it stays that way!
O-Ren August Goals:
1) Continue self-education - learning about driving, parts, carriages/carts, different sports, terminology, etc!
2) Start looking at possible training carts for myself (and possibly a harness upgrade)
3) Continue doing groundwork, long lining, work in harness etc.
4) Continue doing drags with tires/PVC
5) If all goes well - hopefully she will be hooked by the end of the month!
Pangea August Goals:
1) Walk hacks 2-3x per week (just short ones, soundness pending)
2) First rhino shot!
Hard to believe that P is almost three months pregnant already. She is exactly 85 days pregnant today.... if you're wondering what an 85 day fetus looks like, it's actually really beautiful and you can definitely tell that it will be a horse!:
And as an adorable throwback, here's a picture of tiny baby O!