Monday, August 15, 2011

New Week, New Horse

Late last week, I got a new horse in training.   Her name is Candy, and she is a three yr old dark dappled gray Half Arabian/ Quarter Horse filly, and is just as cute as a button.  She is the younger full sibling to two horses that a customer of mine owns; because those two have been doing so well, it was decided that this filly would be a good addition to the family.  They have only had her for a few months, and in that time, she has done little more than get comfortable in her new surroundings and her new herd.  My friend/customer has had family issues that she has had to spend time on this summer, and did not have the time to mess much with her.  Prior to coming to Kansas, Candy lived at the same ranch were she was born in Nebraska;  their common practice is for the mares to foal outside, on the range, with very little human contact until the horses are about ready to be started.  While this flies in the face of the imprinting movement (which I have used on occasion), these horses are quiet, confident, take care of themselves in a herd and are very hardy.  Additionally, they seem savvy and catch on quick to tasks when they are asked to, perhaps because they aren't spoiled as pets.  Now that I have had three from the same ranch in training, I can see that they are quietly respectful of humans, rather than looking at them as a source of food or as a lesser-ranking herd member.

So Candy has come to me as a blank slate.  She ties and leads, but has never had her feet done - her feet are in remarkably good condition, and have worn off from being kept outside all the time.  She is not used to being in a stall for more than an hour, and her new owner would like her to become accustomed to it, since there will be times when she will have to be inside overnight, or longer.  And Candy hasn't been very many new places in her life; while she had hundreds of acres to roam in Nebraska, her very first trailer ride was when she came to Kansas.  Obviously, I have a lot of work to do!  Haha!

The past few days have been dedicated to getting her used to us, our farm and what her schedule is going to be like.  Every morning, after I ride her brother, I take her to the round pen for a short (and so far, sweet) groundwork session.  I am teaching her to lunge, and she is taking to it brilliantly.  She figured out 'whoa' right away, stops and stands quietly while keeping her attention on me, and reverses direction toward the inside naturally, which pleases me to no end! 

After lunging her for a bit, I work on picking up her feet; at first, she tried to bow every time I picked up her fronts, but now is standing perfectly still while I tap on the bottoms of her feet, move them around, and rub her belly.  Her hind feet are going to require some more time, as she wants to swing her butt away from me when I go to pick them up.  After getting her next to the fence to block her, she is better; she will give them to me, but only for a second or two, though today, she seemed more patient with it.  I don't think it will be long and my husband will be able to give her the first trim. 

The last thing I have been working on is getting her to move away from pressure.  While standing at her shoulder, facing her hindquarters, I tap her butt with the end of the lead, and ask her to step away from me, essentially doing a turn-on-the-forehand.  Later, I will move the pressure point from her butt to her side, to replicate leg pressure while mounted, and after that, ask her to move her shoulder so that she is doing a turn-on-the-haunch.  She has been extremely willing with this, a little 'goosey' the first couple of times, but once she figured out what I was asking, and that she would get rubbed and rewarded afterward, she relaxed. 

Not only is this mare following her big brothers' lead in being smart and trainable, she is really nicely put together.  It is no secret that I just love the Arab/Quarter Horse cross; I have ridden a ton of them, and it seems to me that it is a perfect cross if you want a well-made, quiet, smart and pretty horse, and Candy is just that (I will post pictures soon, I promise!).  She has a big, beautiful Quarter Horse rear end, low set tail, lots of bone in her legs, broad hocks and knees, and a short back, while her head and neck are so pretty, she could easily compete with the purebreds in a beauty contest.  Her movement is fantastic too; not quite flat-kneed like a Quarter Horse, but without a lot of excess suspension, like an Arab - a pretty mover, but not overly flashy.  As far as her bloodlines go, she is by an Arab stallion named Rushcreek Kip, a Winraff++ grandson, with Magnat* and Al-Marah Knight (a very desirable name in endurance circles) on the bottom side.  Candy's dam is a QH named Kuda Freckles, a Colonel Freckles granddaughter, with some Leo, King, Skipper W, and Bert mixed in.  Overall, a great combination of working horses that are nice to look at.

I will update you all as to how Candy progresses; I am pretty sure that we will be saddling her soon!