Monday, April 2, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse

Youth Nationals Here We Come! Part 4

Part 1

Because of the incident at the schooling show with Rachel and Dandy (the Arabian horse), it was obvious there needed to be some revisions is our plans. Both Rachel and Dandy had issues to resolve that required some intervention. Rachel was told she couldn't ride the horse again in the western saddle until the hair had completely grown back on those bare spots. In addition Rachel was told she couldn't ride the Arabian horse at all until she had lessons with her trainer, Crystal Baker, and her confidence issues were resolved. In the meantime, I was going to be schooling the Arabian horse five days a week working through his issues and getting him back to the level of performance the Arabian horse is capable of.

Since Dandy (the Arabian horse) had been worked hard at the clinics and the schooling show, not to mention the sore spots on the horse's back, I decided it was best to give the horse Monday off. He wasn't the only one that needed the day off. I hadn't been riding for three months and my body was complaining loudly about the time I'd spent in the saddle over the weekend. Even though Dandy (the Arabian horse) is a very smooth comfortable horse to ride my joints, particularly my hips, were screaming at me.

So Rachel's group lesson for Monday was cancelled with Dandy instead she had a showmanship lesson with another of my Arabian horses. This horse is a green broke eight year old Arabian mare. This horse is one of the first foals by my stallion, Scandalous Legacy, and one of my favorites.

Scandalous Dare is a 14.2H bay mare who is extremely catty on her feet. My intention is to put some more miles on her and then begin reining training with her. In the meantime, Dare is there with Rachel so Rachel can get more experience dealing with young horses. This horse knows all of her ground manners, clips, bathes and lunges but she is green with a big attitude. Not a bad attitude, she loves to be fussed with and loves to please but she came into the world believing she should be a boss mare. Not holding a firm line with the horse can easily result in her deciding she's in charge. Hold the line and you couldn't ask for a sweeter more responsive horse.

Rachel has been around Dare since the Arabian horse was born. The two have always gotten along really well at my house. Things have been a little different though over at the barn and Dare(the Arabian horse) was soon buffaloing Rachel. Rachel had already taken a couple of lessons from Crystal to work out these issues and both the horse and handler were getting better. I guess the natural next step was for her to begin showmanship with Dare (the Arabian horse).

Dandy hates showmanship. The horse does it because he has to but you can tell he thinks it's beneath him. At seventeen, the horse really believes he's doesn't need to be bothered with such foolishness. He is lethargic in his responses unless Rachel has a whip and the darn horse knows when she's carrying it or not.

Dare, on the other hand, is young and frankly bored. The horse misses her sisters and being able to play with them. The Arabian horse has really needed a job to keep her mind busy. The showmanship lesson turned out to be just the ticket. Dare (the Arabian horse) absolutely loved the challenge of learning something new. Right from the start the horse was doing pivots firmly planting her hind foot and swinging gracefully around without any hesitation. She loved trotting off briskly and stopping on Rachel's cue. The mare just thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the lesson and Rachel finally saw how much fun showmanship could be with a willing partner. The lesson also established more solidly for the mare that Rachel is in charge and that in turn was good for Rachel's confidence. It was definitely a win - win.

On Tuesday I began riding Dandy (the Arabian horse). I prefer the western saddle, particularly when I haven't been riding for a while and my strength isn't what is should be but that just wasn't an option with those bare spots on the horse's back. It's a good thing they have a mounting block because as sore as I was there was no way I could have climbed up onto that horse without it. Even with it, there was nothing pretty or graceful about the way my old bones climbed into the saddle. It's a good thing that Dandy is used to me and my quirks.

I did a lot of flexing and bending, even more than I had done at the show. I know it probably hasn't been done to this extent since the last time I did it. But I knew the best way to work this horse through his fear is to take the Arabian horse back to the basics. Most of the time I spent in the saddle was focused on moving him off my legs, moving his shoulders and his hips laterally and lots of forward, forward, forward.

By the time I began trotting the horse in figure eights, he was getting well underneath himself and lifting his shoulder nicely but every time we came to middle for the change of diagonal the horse hollowed out his back bracing against the pain he expected to endure. Each pass got a little better but I knew from past experience it take a lot of repetitions for the horse to regain his confidence. I had enough confidence for both of us, so I knew this would all work out. I didn't even canter him at all that day, just worked on the simple basics until the horse was totally soft and supple.

Wednesday was supposed to be lesson day for Dandy and Rachel so I got with Crystal so we could work out a plan. There was a possibility that Crystal would have to cancel the lesson and I was rooting for that to be the case. A whole week of me riding Dandy (the Arabian horse) before Rachel got on him again would give me a better chance of getting him through the issues that were scaring Rachel.

The biggest thing for Rachel was Dandy (the Arabian horse) raising up out of the bridle. Crystal and I decided if the lesson did take place that Rachel would ride in draw reins. While Rachel has never ridden using them before, Dandy (the Arabian horse) would not raise up in the bridle against them. If the horse didn't raise up, Rachel would be less likely to grab a hold of his face and it would go smoother for both of them.

I went ahead and schooled the horse as I had the day before. This time I also worked him at the canter. He had the same problem at the canter transitions as I had experienced the day before at the change of diagonal. Again, I knew if would just take lots of repetitions for the horse to build back confidence that doing rounded work would not result in pain.

The ride was not long since I didn't want to make either one of us sore. I knew the horse was not strong enough to be doing this kind of work for any length of time. Dandy had been allowed to "cheat" on his amount of collection for several months and had lost the muscle tone across his back. The Arabian horse and Grandma would build their strength together.

To be continued....

Part 5


  1. OM Gosh MiKael, that sounds so painful, for both of you. I know the feeling LOL.

    I hope that our cooling/heating systems arent in cohorts on this breaking down thing!!!! Also I really hope it warms up soon for you guys. We are heading for a freezing easter weekend. It is in the 70s at the moment, easter weekend is expected to be below freezing again with maxs of low 40s!!!

    In the meantime lots of icy hot for those aching places and nice hot baths with Epsom Salts, it works wonders to draw the aches and pains out of tired aching muscles.



  2. I'm jealous. Your 17 year old gelding who recovered from EPM sounds ten times more sound than my 16 year old one!