Brooke and I have been spending alot of time working in hand and on ground manners. This week we tacked up in full riding gear for lunging; bridle with bit, saddle, girth, vienna reins and lunge line. Day One was a bit of a challenge and she thought it was OK to spend the entire time galloping around on the 20 meter circle with me attached to the end of the lunge line. She worked herself into a soaking wet sweat - good thing it was in the mid-30's. She didn't want to trot on the lunge line, let alone walk. She had one speed - FAST. Well, at least she didn't mind the stirrups bouncing against her sides or the vienna reins (sliding side reins) attached to the bit. And I discovered she is not a fan of Rock music - I had Classic Rock on the satellite station and I think it cranked her up even more. I decided to take the mellow approach so we changed to Watercolors jazz. She liked that much better.
Day Two - horses came in a couple hours early because it was literally pouring rain. Before I worked Brooke, I rode her next door neighbor Vodena. Which meant Brooke had no one next to her while she was in the stall. She did have a neighbor, Becket, across the aisleway and could see him but it was not the same as having Dena next to her. She had a major temper tantrum while I was riding - screaming, carrying on, banging against her stall walls. So I dismounted Dena, walked back up to the barn from the indoor arena and moved good ole Blake next to Brooke. He has a calming influence on every creature and nothing seems to bother him. I went back down to the arena and Brooke seemed to be appeased for a short time. At least long enough for me to ride Dena without her screaming back at Brooke.
After untacking Dena and putting her back in the stall next to Brooke, it was now her turn to stand in the crossties to be tacked up. I decided to use a lunging caveson over top of her bridle and attach the lunge line to that instead of the bit. She stood pretty well in the cross ties and was rewarded with crunchy cookies while she stood. We made out way down to the arena and I tuned the music to Watercolors again. I attached the vienna reins and Brooke decided to start going to the right today. Surprize surprize! AND she TROTTED on the circle - no canter! I changed from right to left after about seven minutes and she trotted again! Like she had been doing this for years. WOW! So when we changed to the right again, I did ask for a canter and we worked on transitions up and down from my voice. I was very pleased with her!
Back up to the barn and lots of cookies for Brooke! She stood extra quiet in the cross ties so I pulled out my mane comb. Dare I try to pull her mane? YES and she didn't care! More crunchy cookies as well as peppermint ones. I was able to pull 1/3 of her mane. She's a hairy girl for sure. I ended on a good note - didn't want her to get fidgity. I gave her a big hug before I put her blanket back on and then back into her stall next to her BFF.
What a great day - lunged like a champ and let me pull her mane! I will finish it over the next few days and update with a photo:)
Although saddle broke, I have found that Brooke doesn't know how to lunge. We have practiced free lunging in the indoor arena and she found that she loved to look at herself in the mirrors. Great! So now she isn't afraid or intimidated by the "other horse" in the arena. It was time to become a big girl and learn how to lunge on the 30 foot line attached to the halter with me standing in the center of the invisible circle.
She leads fabulously on the left side by herself or with another horse, but try to lead her from the right side alone, forget it. I know horses in training for racing do not get lead or worked with much on the right side of their bodies, but as a riding horse, they need to be handled from both sides.
Brooke is a "red head" and apparently they are much more opinionated than brunets or blonds :) Brooke understands the concept of me standing in the middle of an invisible circle and walking around me. Trotting, well that's another story. I usually start the lunge learning at an end of the arena so that I have three sides to my circle. Brooke understood the wall part of the circle, but once we got to the open side, she would run like a race horse and literally pull me down the arena towards the other end. We worked for 15 minutes going to the left and after a compromise, she learned she could not pull me down the arena. After six to eight tries of not succeeding with her trick, she FINALLY understood she needed to go all the way around me, not just 3/4 of the way. Wow, that was a breakthrough! So we tried to the right. Same issue - she thought it was a game to politely trot 3/4 of the circle, then take of towards the other end of the arena. Until the chain around her nose got her attention about a dozen times. After that, it was if she had lunged for months - a full 20 meter circle around me. Winning!
Baby horses are rewarding as well as frustrating. We finished on a great note - I took her off the lunge line and she walked politely next to me around the arena and when I stopped, she stopped and stood next to me. What a smart girl! Up to the barn where her other friends were munching on hay before dinner time. She was very sweaty so I took the opportunity to brush her in her stall. Her goat friends love to duck under the stall guard and sneak a lick from her salt block. She didn't seem to mind sharing the stall with me while being brushed, or the kitties that play in her hay while she is eating.
Slowly but surely she is becoming more social. We will work on lunging this week and graduate to wearing a bridle with a bit with a lunging caveson over top.
I've been taking it slowly with Brooke as she is a sensitive flower. I decided she has had plenty of time to adjust to life at our farm. She comes to me when I walk out to the pasture to get her friend Dena, and runs to the gate to be the first to come in from the pasture in the afternoon. She has learned to stand politely for me to put the chain over her nose (yes, it's a must right now. She has decided that pulling and running to the other side of the farm to visit her boyfriends is a fun thing. She's even done it to Brian, the horse whisperer) so she can be nicely walked through the gate, up the hill by the indoor arena and into her stall.
So on a day when it was warm - in the 30's - and I had a helper - Brooke's Aunt Jean - we walked into the indoor arena with a lunge line. Normally I put the radio on and close the overhead door, but it was windy and there was shooting noises from our neighbors, so I opted for peace without the Sirius.
I walked her around so she could examine the scarry banners on the wall. She sniffed them and was more mezmorized by her beautiful image in the mirrors. Then she decided to start trotting and poof, we began to lunge in a circle! Granted it was only to the left, but OTTBs are not typically worked from the right side so I was in no hurry to try to change direction. Brooke figured out that the far end of the arena wasn't a bad place, and she was a superstar lunging by the mirrors and the people door. I'm super happy with her progress. Once again it is a trust thing. Next week we have a saddle fitter coming out to fit a saddle to her princess back. More photos and another blog about this for sure!
A big step for Brooke yesterday - trust the human. Brian and I were taking Christmas photos with the horses wearing a Santa hat ear bonnet. Armed with carrots, I made my way into Brooke's stall and rubbed the bonnet all over her neck after letting her smell it. I then fed her a carrot with my left hand while the right hand moved the bonnet up to her pole and as she was busy munching, she allowed me to put the bonnet over both ears. What a good girl!!! She also received a new blanket with a hood attachment. She wasn't quite sure about the hood thing, but after trying to itch it off, decided it wasn't so bad after all. Good thing as I did clip her and the temperatures are going to dive down into the single digits for the next few days. Looks like more groundwork instead of riding!
Brooke settled into her new environment pretty well. She tends to be a bit nervous about people but hey, she's only 3 and hasn't had alot of exposure to new places yet. My friend Jean noticed that Brooke was having issues chewing carrots. I also noticed she didn't want to eat her hay in the stall. Luckily Dr. McIlmurray was scheduled to come out to the barn on 12/2 for another horse. I asked him to check her teeth and the first thing he said after checking in her mouth was, "you haven't put a bit in this horse's mouth have you?" No, she had only been at the farm two weeks, and I was letting her settle into her daily routine.Well it's a good thing I didn't try to bit her as she still had her wolf teeth AND several large caps that needed to come off. Doc lightly sedated her and went to work on her mouth. He extracted the wolf teeth and also the caps that had huge hooks on them. You could cut your finger open with one of them - they were very sharp!
A day after having her teeth floated and removed, she happily devoured all her hay in the stall. She has also put on a nice amount of weight since she can eat comfortably now.
So the moral of the story is, have your horse's teeth inspected by your vet before you start any bridle work.
Onesingleyesterday (Golden Missile (A.P.Indy) x Talented Belle), or Brooke as she is called at the farm, arrived late on Sunday, November 20, 2016. She came from Pennsylvania, near the NJ border, from the New Vocations facility. It was a long trip for her - getting onto the trailer at 1pm and arriving at the farm around 11:30pm. She was one tired girl and very happy to get off of the rig. She settled into her stall right away and I am sure took a good long nap overnight.
Brooke's Video from New Vocations