Choosing Happiness, Starring Drew the Colt

So far, the weekend hasn’t gone as planned. I woke up bright and early this morning to get Apache all ready to finally get to his training, but there’s no trailer here. And I thought we were going to all be going to the Steak Stein and Wine event in Cameron today, but Lee doesn’t feel well, and there’s no one to go with. Am I upset? Nope. I have contingency plans, and am having a lovely day!

I’m all saddled up, but not being ridden yet.

I just left Apache in the round pen after I groomed him, where he was happy to nosh away at the grass and crow poison in there (I think he actually avoids the flowers). His saddle and stuff was ready, if the trailer had arrived. Meanwhile, I got myself into my nice, comfy car and drove over to the training place, where I proceeded to have a great time!

I’m fine. I’ll just walk myself over my poles and get in shape.

I enjoyed watching Drew get groomed and saddled, but the highlight was getting his feet cleaned. He picked up his back feet! Then he stretched them out to get them in better shape! He’s been improving consistently since they started working with him.

The trainer says he has just gotten to the point where he is in good enough shape to be ridden. He had to have a lot of work done to his back muscles, which were all confused, as well as a lot on his haunches, especially on the right side, which I knew was at least part of his problem.

Look at that back right leg moving like it should move!

He’s getting bodywork monthly, and that is helping. I can see how much muscle he has put on. He is working hard (and I think saying WTF about that), but learning so quickly. The trainer says nothing he does wrong is out of malice; it’s more that he doesn’t understand what he’s being asked, or he’s not quite able to do things yet. I’m really proud to have such a good learner with a willing disposition to work with!

Not cantering here.

Drew is way better at the ground work. It turns out the horrible noise his sheath always made when he was running fast was from having his back all tense. Now, when he isn’t tense, it doesn’t make any noise at all. It’s convenient that geldings have this handy alarm system. You just have to look at mares. I was really astonished at how he responded to very subtle cues. It turns out he does not need big corrections or anything like that. All you have to do to get him to trot is to life the rope and crop, and he will stop when you turn sideways. He also canters on command.

His cantering is a work in progress, because his back was so messed up that his front legs and his back legs were not coordinated. He is learning to start off on the correct “lead” (which I am not great with yet, but will be). It’s obvious he’s making progress and trying to figure it out.

I’m sure he’s having fun.

What else can Drew do? Well, to build up those back leg muscles, he’s jumping over an obstacle while going in circles. He apparently doesn’t like it, but he does great.

Hill backing.

He is also practicing going up hills backward (it’s a small hill they got installed in the training pen, very cool) and going over the hill while running in circles and not zooming down. I was told he is making huge strides with this. All of it is building the muscles he needs for being ridden.

Backing uphill.

Something I felt good about was confirmation that Drew was born in the fall. He is three years old, but NOT three and a half, judging from his teeth. I thought he was younger than he was made out to be.

This is more practice for his legs, and for getting on and off trailers. Now that his legs feel better, he does it fine.

The most fun thing I got to do this morning was practice giving Drew the subtle commands to walk, trot, and stop. I did pretty well, and he paid good attention to me. I was just beaming when it was all done, and the trainer was, too. She is so happy with how both Drew and I are doing!

I’m doing it. Go me.

And oh yes, she is training him not to rush at you at feeding time. This will be so good. I saw how she is doing it, so I will work on the other horses to see how well I can get them to act.

A moment of not cooperating.

One more thing I learned to do was some releases on his head. I learned three different ways to relax him, all of which were easy. He seems so happy when this is done. It’s a good reward for all his hard work!

I like this thumb poking into my head thing.

I tried the releases on Apache. He liked two of them, but not the third. He seems to have something going on with his head, anyway. Or he hurt his foot jumping over poles yesterday.

So, I had a great morning, then I came home and shoveled a lot of horse poop. Lee said he wasn’t feeling well, so we’re staying home today–he did tell the lady he was working with that he wasn’t coming, so she wouldn’t be looking for him all day!

Here’s Drew going in circles with the slight hill in them. He looks relaxed.

I’ll just hang out and see what the rest of the day brings and whether we do what we’d planned to do tomorrow, which was go to Austin and get some of my stuff. That can be done without the trailer, thankfully, but I want Lee to feel okay. Oddly enough, I feel fine other than sore arms from my vaccinations yesterday. You just never know!

I’m ready to enjoy the moment, and I hope you are, too!

Drew Heads off to Colt College

Oh, sniff. It’s so hard when you have to send your teens off for further education. They look like such wide-eyed babies, even when they are dapple gray quarter horse colts. And moving them into their dorms can be a real struggle. That was true for Drew today as well.

My baby heads off to training land. Look at those eyes.

Now, of course we are really glad it’s been raining a bit for the past few days. But, this morning was the Big Day that we were scheduled to take Drew off for training, and Apache also had a lesson scheduled. I knew the trainer doesn’t cancel lessons unless it’s raining at the time, so I went ahead and got Apache and Drew loaded into the trailer, while a steady drizzle fell. Apache was rather annoyed, and let me know. But, in he went, and I even figured out how to lock the door that separates the horses in the trailer, too.

Drew went in, too, though he entered as if he was jumping a hurdle. What a good boy. Right as we were getting leaving, we found out it was raining at the trainer’s house, so we parked again and sat on the porch, watching the rain. Apache was not a happy boy. Stomp, stomp. Sara gave us her appointment time, so we were able to head out later.

I don’t want to get out, sorry. But I appreciate the gentle pressure.

Now Drew was the star of the show. First, he had to get out of the trailer. You may recall that he is not really great at the exiting part of trailering. I was hoping he could have a good experience exiting today, with professional help.

I’m thinking of getting out, so I can hang out with the cute dog, and that sorta nice lady.

My dream came true, as the trainer patiently encouraged him to get off, without yelling or punishing him. He got closer and closer, becoming quite curious about what was outside, not scared! After about 15 minutes, he jumped out, and immediately started sniffing the poop of new horses. MMM.

Ooh, so many new smells. I think there are many friends here.

But, he was NOT there for fun. He was already at school! He got a great lesson on keeping out of the space of the human he’s with. He only took a few big corrections until he was getting the idea and needing much less correction. He went from tense to relaxed, too. It was great to watch, and I learned a lot.

I’m not getting it yet.

He went to his new paddock happily and tried to make friends with a mare. He did better than we thought he would. I think he liked it just fine. The trainer remarked that he was smart, learned quickly, and not a spooky boy. I was proud, even though I didn’t give birth to him; I just brought him home after the family found him for me!

What happened to Apache, you ask? He finally got to get out of the trailer, and we had a short lesson in the same kind of thing Drew was learning, only he was a bit better at it. He should be, since I’ve been working on it, right? He got to eat a bit of grass and got some attention, so he got to feeling better. He loaded much better that time, so I’m glad he had a positive experience in the end.

I really miss Drew already. It felt weird not to feed him this evening. I keep looking for him in the field, too. I guess I got used to him pretty fast! But I have great hopes for him and for what he will learn when he’s in training. I want to spend many years together, so having a good start is important.

Progress Report on Horses Drew and Apache, Plus Future Plans

Here we are at mid week, and things have calmed down at least a little. We’re getting into a routine with all the new horses and our very workable facility. While there will be improvements, like more roof and the tack room, what we have now feels quite luxurious!

Drew wishes he had Apache’s dinner, but it has very few calories, so he wouldn’t get much out of it.

It is so nice to have the round pen right there to warm up horses and to work with Drew. I’m happy to say that he is a lot better on the lunge line and now walks and trots more than trotting and cantering. Plus, he is starting to figure out that I am asking him to transition. He is also being a much better citizen when walking on a lead, and only crowds me in crowded spots. There’s work to do, but also progress. On the other hand, I have not found his “back” button.

Wow, exercise area, feeding area, pasture, shelter, and even a temporary washing station are here!

I’ve been riding Apache as often as possible. Yesterday, he acted like his right back hoof hurt and did not want to trot in the round pen, so I’m watching for another abscess. Yet, we went for a very long trail ride all over the cow pasture, front yard, and such, and he did just great. There’s a lot of progress with him, too, and I’m relaxing my feet more in the Western stirrups.

And look at this! We have trails mowed into the pasture for us, on both sides of the fence. We sure appreciate that!

The new horses of Kathleen’s are enjoying their lives very much. She’s been riding Dusty for hours every day, and they also are making huge progress. It’s fun to watch them. She walks all the horses daily and does tons of grooming. She’s the horsiest!

Dusty says, I’m enjoying riding around with Kathleen, and I’m gaining some weight!

Mabel has been looking sort of droopy, though, so she’s going to the vet ahead of schedule, just to be sure she is all right.

I’m eating a lot, but still working on filling out these old ribs of mine, says Granny Amaretto.

As for me, I know I am not equipped to train a young horse myself, so I have been talking to a local trainer whose philosophy and ideas agree with mine about getting him started the right way. She’s the woman who was the judge at the Working Equitation show we went to a while back. Starting in October, Drew will spend some time learning manners and skills, and I will also learn how to work with him the way he’s been trained.

Excuse me, I’m a teenager. I do not need manners. But, at least I’m clean, says Drew.

In the meantime, I’m going to start going to lessons with Apache, to help the two of us get more in tune and refine my riding and his horsing. I really look forward to finally getting some real lessons in horsemanship, after all these years of not doing it. It’s an investment into my future retirement fun. I can’t wait for Apache to get more balanced, so I can ride him at a trot and canter and maybe help get some of that weight off.