Nevada and I have spent the last couple of weeks really working on our groundwork. While parts of the early sessions were a little rough for both of us, things are now going extremely well. She is soft and happy and willing to work through problems that I present to her. I’ve never spent so much time with an untouched horse before, and it is really neat to see everything you can build into them. I’m sure I’m missing lots of stuff, too. But so far it’s great.
|Um, you mean you’re going to climb on my back soon?|
She took to the saddle very well. Never moved her feet as I practiced swinging it up and taking it down. She was curious about the shiny stirrups, but not bothered at all.
Of course things changed a little when I let her go and asked her to move out. Like most young horses, she got going pretty well and then realized the saddle might be a little scary and threw in some pretty big bucks. She got troubled enough to try to leave the arena via the closed gate. That didn’t work. But as soon as her plan failed she calmed down and came right to me. We went back to working off the line and she was completely fine. We had a few more sessions with the saddle on and she had no trouble moving out.
Last weekend we had a really long session of groundwork with a bunch of horses in the arena. Occasionally I would pass her off to Robin and Oliver and she would pony Nevada around. She’s great friends with Oliver, and she was really comfortable following them and moving off Robin’s touch with the rope or light taps with her boots/stirrups.
Everything went really well, so I decided to climb on her. I had already stepped up in the stirrups on some of the other days. She was a little surprised but not at all bothered. I did that a few more times and then swung my leg over.
|Her very first ride, and my very first colt-starting experience.|
It was a very short ride. We mostly worked on walking out, rolling her hind over, and just relaxing together (i.e. lots and lots of pets). As this is the first time for both of us, I definitely did not push it., just encouraged her to try and kept things slow. She’s still such a little two year old, and I’ve got so much time that I’m not going to work on anything we might not be ready for. One step at a time. And sometimes we were literally getting one step at a time.
The next afternoon we went out to see if she was up for another ride. The arena was busy. Last time I waited until everyone cleared out before I climbed on, but today there were two other boarders riding as well as Robin. Nevada was a little more curious about everything around her, but she was also still quite attentive to me.
We started with a lot more groundwork. This time I was introducing her to the hackamore. It definitely gives a different feel than the rope halter, but she was very quick to respond to it. We had a slightly longer ride. She continued to be curious about the other horses and we used them to hook on and follow them around. I think this helped us get a much more energetic walk than we had on the previous ride. Again we did a lot of bending, stepping the hind over, and just hanging out. She was great.
A few days later I thought we could keep working on our rides, but she was not settled. I don’t know what it was, but from the moment I got out in the pasture she was not ready to be caught. We worked on that and got her in, but she was still very unsettled. I did end up saddling her, but we only did groundwork, particularly concentrating on flag stuff. Multiple things were bothering her, but we made each issue better before calling it a day.
|No riding this time, but it seemed like the right thing to do.|
Today she was a completely different horse. She was happy to see me, relaxed for grooming and tacking, and her groundwork was soft, light and she was extremely attentive. The other day I was having a hard time getting her to stay with me. Today she was always with me.
I climbed on again and we had another great ride. She continued to give me more energy at the walk, and rolling her hind over is becoming increasingly natural. She is flexing to the hackamore really well. I started introducing a soft feel, backing a few steps, and getting the front to step over after the hind. That last one was a little tough, but each time I tried it she got better. We also had our first trots. It took a little bit for me to get her into it. My legs were not quite getting it done, but when I started reaching back to tap her on the butt, she got going. She also got a little frightened and threw in a few hops, but she came into a very soft bend when I asked her to.
Today also happened to be Duke day, and we got all six of the horses trimmed. It made for a long day. I know Nevada has had her feet done before, but this was the first time we got to do it. I’ve been working on her feet quite a bit, but the farrier day came up really fast. So after our ride I introduced her to the rasp and asked her to hold her feet up a little longer. She was great. During her trim there were lots of dogs running around and other boarders getting ready for a show, so she was pretty curious about all the distractions, but she did a great job.
I still couldn’t be happier with her. We’re learning so much together, and we’ve got such a long, long way to go, but that makes it even more exciting.