Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse - Now What?

Part 1 of Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse

When life interrupted the update Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse - Riding the Stallion Rachel had done a pretty good job of riding the Arabian Stallion, Scandalous Legacy The only real problem had been that the horse had done some talking while Rachel was riding. Rachel had corrected him but her timing had been a little slow. I figured the reason he had repeated the behavior with her and not with me was directly related to her timing.

Driving home I thought about it and decided that maybe Rachel should ride him away from the arena where he was inclined to talk, so she could get a feel for his normal behavior to help her identify the was the horse felt as he was getting ready to talk.

Stallions are pretty transparent and for that matter horses in general. They don't do anything just out of the blue. There is always some kind of warning that the behavior is coming. When it came to this unwelcome talking, Legs would raise up before any sound would come out of his mouth. The time for the correction was when he was raising up.

I called Colleen and told her my plan to get Rachel some time in the saddle away from that arena. We made a plan for her to come over for the weekend to stay so I could work with her some on ground driving and if there was free time at the park maybe some riding with the stallion.

Then I began thinking about all the things I needed to do the help Rachel with her horse dream. That led me to what Rachel herself was doing and the scales were pretty loop sided. I had told Rachel and her mother both that I had no intention of contributing to Rachel being one of those spoiled horse show brats whose mothers and grandmothers do all the work while the kid sits gives them a hard time they're not doing it right.

While Rachel hasn't ever given me a hard time at a horse show, I can't say the same about her mom. She's been rude several times to her mom. (totally against the agreement we have) She has corrected the behavior as soon as I've called her on it but this new thing of not working Scandalous Hope was really weighing on me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't just Hope that wasn't getting worked.

Scandalous Dare had been there since Oct. Rachel was supposed to have gotten some lessons in long lining. Then she was supposed to be practicing with the mare so Rachel could get proficient while Dare was getting her exercise. The regular work in the arena would help the mare get over her concern about the strange surroundings so I could begin riding her again to get enough miles on her for Rachel to ride.

I think the thing that frustrated me most was that the horses were there for Rachel. They weren't there because I pushed them on her. They were there because she wanted to learn how to work with the young horses. She wanted to get her skills up so that someday she could learn to start them under saddle herself. These were the horses that had learned the groundwork well enough for Rachel to be able to learn with them.

Instead of this happening,Dare was getting on the pudgy side. She had lost the muscle tone she had moved there with and when I rode her she was still worried about the bogey man instead of giving me her undivided attention. It had taken me a while to put it together, but she too had been left standing in the stall.

Grandma was dropping everything of her own to be sure that Rachel's dream was being tended to while Rachel was picking and choosing to parts of caring for horses that she was willing to do. When the job was riding Dandy, she'd done that just fine, but learning the groundwork necessary to get horses going under saddle, Rachel had managed to avoid as much as possible. To sum it up, Grandma was working at this dream business way harder than Rachel. Grandma wasn't pleased!

I don't know who I was maddest at, me for not figuring it out sooner, Rachel for not taking care of the horses or Colleen for allowing it to continue and NOT letting me know Rachel was letting things slide I had asked repeatedly about progress and had gotten vague answers and some excuses and the proverbial tomorrow, next week, etc Obviously, tomorrow had never come.

By the time Rachel did get to my house, a day and a half later than planned, I was loaded for bear. I'm pretty sure Rachel didn't know what hit her. I didn't yell at her. I told her how disappointed I was in her and why. I think she would have preferred the yelling.

Now there is a new plan, Rachel has to earn the privilege of riding my horses again. She has to regain my trust by working with the younger horses on their groundwork. Each horse is to be worked 5 days a week. I am not providing a replacement horse for her to ride at lessons. She will use her lesson time and learn the ground driving she was supposed to have learned last winter. Then she will work on getting proficient with Dare.

Her time spent taking care of horses in a week can not be less than my time spent taking care of rehabilitating Dandy and getting Legs fit so she can ride him. I'll work at getting Hope started in the long lines so Rachel can advance to her when both of them are ready.

There is now a calendar on each horse's stall door that much be marked with the task performed each day the horse is worked. The notation must also be initialed by an adult. While she's at it, all that groundwork will be improving her timing and her understanding as well as conditioning my horses.

Rachel is now back on track learning how to become a true horse woman.

To be continued...........

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  1. Tough love can work. :)

    I have someone else work with my daughter. I'm currently looking for lessons for her. She just doesn't quite listen to me as well as I'd like (picture her rolling her eyes when I say something to her) but I have found that when someone else says the same thing that Mom says.. She listens.

    Sounds like Rachel's on track now. Don't beat yourself up too much, you had a lot on your plate lately, I'm not sure that anyone would have caught it all any sooner.

  2. I like the way you wove the listening to Legs before a problem happened to how you were able to note the problems with Rachel before they got out of hand. I completely agree with all your decisions.
    The last 3 days I've been out at the little barn and asked permission to feed the horses. I had sweat dripping off my nose and loved every minute of it. The whole point is just being with the horses, having discussions, cleaning, noting possible problems, and enjoying their personalities. Riding is way down the list.
    Rachel is very lucky to have you.

  3. I think you did the right thing with Rachel. It's easy for children to slack off without someone pushing them to continue on with their work. It is the rare child that can motivate themselves, so having a mother who wasn't pushing her to follow through didn't help.

    You really are doing well by her.

  4. Way to go, MiKael! You are doing the right thing, keep it up. :-)

  5. Thank you for not letting her become a "show brat!" I hated those kids. Anyway, as I was reading your post I thought a good goal for Rachel with one of the young horses is to see if Rachel could pass Level One Parelli test. It would really build her confidence on the ground and teach her to enjoy ground work. I am not a Parelli freak...but I know how much using it as an aid has helped me.

  6. I love the calenders on the stalls and having to have an adult initial to verify that the tasks were done. That is the type of thing that I would think do.