12 July 2012

Groundwork

Dancer has had a relatively easy life so far.  We bought her for a paltry $100 at the auction down the road when she was a wild-eyed, weaned-that-day filly.  Now that she's four, it's time for training.

Though I'm getting to the point of being hugely pregnant, there is still plenty of work that can be done from the ground.  In a time when everyone wants everything NOW, few are willing to put in the patience that allows young horses to blossom to their full potential.  Thankfully, I had a wonderful riding instructor for years that taught me how to properly start a horse built on trust and respect rather than fear.
It's all done by baby steps: I had her bend and give to pressure on her halter and lead rope, had her pick up all fours, then began a session of free lunging in and our new (and almost finished!) arena.
Don't mind the weeds--that's part of the arena yet to be remedied.
Dancer picked up the walk on, trot and canter cues fairly quickly after settling down from her warm up.  Despite being a quarter horse, who are frequently bred for their shuffling gates desired by western riders, I kept thinking two things: 1) Man, she has a nice trot and 2) She sure is stubborn.

Where most horses concede and show some form of submissiveness by circling around their trainer,  licking and chewing or dropping their head, Dancer just kept trotting obstinately around the arena.  It's really no surprise I suppose.  She's entering into the early teenage years and has always had mind of her own.

When she finally decided she was finished, she had worked herself into a slick and foamy lather from her ears down to her butt cheeks.  After a cool bath, it was back to the paddock with her.
Normally, she whips around and high-tails it back to her herd the moment the halter is slipped from her head but after her workout, she eyed them while following near me until I left.  That small gesture was a certain sign of progress!
And of course, the girls insisted on riding Stoney.  They find it thrilling just to sit on him, but being the avid equestrian and horse lover I am, decided to give them an age-appropriate riding lesson.  We worked on transitions from the walk to the halt and it was all giggles from his back.
After an evening training my beloved horses and taking my daughters riding on my trusty old mount (in my own backyard, no less!), I consider myself incredibly blessed.

One more goal crossed off my list (well, started anyway).

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