Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses - Rhythm's Story - Tommy Garland

Part One of the Baby Boomer Series

Rhythm's Story starts here

The first week in September Rich, Brittany and the Arabian horse left Massachusettes and headed down to Tommy Garland's in Virginia. I don't remember how many hours the trip was supposed to be according to mapquest but I do remember that it ended up taking about four more hours than they had expected. Rich and Brittany arrived at Garland's in the evening, put Rhythm into a stall, then headed to the closest motel for the night.

Having had a chance to follow Rhythm's story over the course of this blog, you probably have an idea of how the Arabian horse took to this change in his routine and more importantly his change in trainers. Being a horse with a big attitude and the constant need to prove he is in charge, Rhythm is a horse you can count on to test whatever new human enters into his life.

The horse did, however, have an experience, all be it brief, with Tommy Garland at the Daffodil clinic the year before. How much of that session would reflect on his attitude towards this situation, only time would tell.

Although Tommy didn't remember Rhythm at first from the clinic, it didn't take him long dealing with that attitude to remember the horse as having a stubborn streak. The first session with the horse included an extended period of round pen work tying him around until he finally decided to co-operate. After that round pen session, Rhythm was a jewel. Once the horse was convinced that Tommy was in charge, Rhythm did what he was asked.

Brittany called me on her cell phone right after the first session was over. The fact she described the horse's initial behavior as him "acting like a jerk" was no surprise to me. I knew his "jerk" side quite well. It was interesting to hear that Tommy Garland had dealt with it the very same way that I had done. That's not what he had done with him at the clinic.

At the clinic Tommy actually spent his time doing a desensitizing technique on the horse. I didn't really understand why he chose to do that with Rhythm at the time. And actually to this day, I don't know why he decided that was what Rhythm needed. From the sounds of it, it didn't help him any with him this time around. My guess is that by the second time he'd seen this horse, he had a more accurate understanding of what was at the root of his behavior.

After the session, Brittany and Rich spent the rest of the day hanging around Garland's barn watching other horses training sessions and seeing how the place was run. Before the first day was over, Brittany had been offered a job. Tommy Garland wanted her to come and work for him including riding horses.

For the next day's session Rhythm was good right from the start. That's one thing about this horse once he gets religion you can count on him like clockwork. I was glad that was getting established loud and clear. It would help Brittany keep him a believer.

I believe that Tommy rode the horse followed by Brittany. That way Tommy got the chance to "figure him out" to show Brittany what to do. The horse was very co-operative and Brittany got some much needed assurance that she was on the right track. Brittany and Rhythm were looking like they belonged in Garland's show string.

Tommy's evaluation of the horse was Rhythm definitely had the look and the talent to do it all. The only roadblock was that stubborn thing he could get going. If that could be overcome, there was no reason this horse couldn't go all the way at the National level.

This was something we already knew, but hearing it from someone like Tommy Garland is reaffirming. In one or two sessions there was no way for Tommy Garland to know that the horse could be counted on to walk a straight and narrow path, but I knew. That is one of the most amazing things about this horse, even though he has that "Spanish streak" from his mother, his has a great mind like his sire. Tommy Garland would find he had a lot to still learn about Scandalous Rhythm.

Throughout the second day, Tommy continued to court Brittany and her dad. To say that Rich and Brittany were getting the royal treatment including wining and dining would probably be an under statement. Tommy wanted Brittany to come to work for him and he made sure that was perfectly clear. He also made sure that Rich would feel this was a safe place for his daughter to be.

If Brittany wouldn't consider coming for a permanent job, at the very least, Tommy wanted her to work for him at the Nationals. With fifteen horses going he needed another groom to take along for that show. Garland also kept going over the advantages of working for him. Tommy promised if she stayed for a couple of years or so Brittany would have all the skills and connections to make it on her own as a successful horse trainer. The wheels weren't only turning in Brittany's head; they were turning in Rich's and mine as well.

Before the personalized mini clinic was over, Brittany had agreed to go the Arabian Nationals in Albuquerque, NM in October. As for a permanent job, that would take more thought before she made that decision. Somehow in this process, the trip was cut one day short. Rich decided because it was a holiday weekend traveling on Sunday could be ugly so they left on Saturday instead.

During the two sessions with Tommy Brittany got the chance to see what she could do to deal with the horse's quirks. The horse got the chance to see that Brittany really could be in charge. I think a bit of mutual respect was established in those two sessions with Tommy.

Along with that, Brittany got the chance to get acquainted with the other employees at Garlands. She really hit it off with the groom who was about her age and she got along well with the assistant trainer. It was beginning to look like this could turn into something more than just a couple of day thing.

Neither Brittany nor Rich have ever been to the US Nationals. I think just the thought of getting to go to this show was a great motivator for Brittany. Then add in the prospect of having her horse trained in Tommy Garland's barn made her dream of someday winning a US National Championship seem almost possible. There was a lot to think about on their trip home.

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

Garland's Part 2

Rhythm and Brittany (also know as Barbie) at home in Massachusettes.

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  1. She must have made quite the impression on Tommy Garland, as I understand he is selective about who works for him. WTG for you MiKael... having a horse like Rhythm at the Garland barn may very well lead to good things! I hope this all works out for everyone!

  2. How cool is that! What an amazing opportunity for the girl and the horse.

    I thought Rhythm's story was over once he arrived safe and sound at his new home. We've all become attached to him through your writings, so I'm glad that you are in such close contact with the new owners and are sharing this ongoing saga.

    Can't wait to see where they end up!

  3. I love it when you say that Rhythm "gets religion". I heard someone (can't remember who) comment that their horse was being an ass so she made him "see Jesus" and he straightened right up!

    Sounds like interesting times ahead for Rhythm and Brittany.

  4. Hi MiKael I have enjoyed catching up on all the goings on esecially with Rythm and that things are improving with Rachel, I know it must be a relief for you.

    I can't wait for more on Rythm's story too.

    Stay warm, we got 3 inches snow last night and it is freezing.


  5. I think it's great that you can follow the progress of a horse you raised and sold.

  6. Your invited...

    To join this horse time lapse photo contest!

    Hosted by The Equus Ink

    Contest ends 3/5/08


    EVERYONE can vote for the winner between 3/5 and 3/8!!

    Come join in and have some fun!

  7. Goodness what a turn for that horse and girl eh? Can't wait to see what's next!

  8. Oh I love Dressage Moms comment. Hubby always says "you best have a come to Jesus meeting with that horse'

    What a great story...I cant wait to hear more.

  9. Very interesting story, can't wait to see how it turns out. Brittany has a great opportunity, wonder if she will take it?

  10. lovelee, you'll have to wait and see where this story goes. I'm not letting the cat out of the bag.lol

    jackie, Rythm's story will be ongoing. As it unfolds, I'll be letting you know.

    equinespirit, thanks. BTW your package finally got sent out, you should be seeing it soon.

    dressagemom, I also have been known to refer to it as a "come to Jesus party." It's pretty darn cool when you can get it done. lol

    lori, snow, yuk! it's getting warmer here and I'm hoping it stays that way.

    callie, we've been really happy that we have been able to stay in touch. It's like we just extended our family across the US but what they heck!

    inkeq, I will have to check it out. What are you up to girl?? lol

    kathy c, as usual with this horse, you just never know what to expect. lol

    20 meter circle, yupe sometimes religion is the way to go.....

    grey horse matters, only time will tell the answer to that question.