Thursday, March 6, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story

Up until now I have been telling the story of Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse but I haven't really told the history of that horse. I did tell about his birth in Baby Boomer Dreams but life took a twist when my daughter, Lindsay, was diagnosed brain cancer. That twist affected my dreams and the story went off in that direction pretty much leaving this horse behind.

My story with Arabian horses, however, cannot truly be told with telling the story of this particular horse. So much of what I know today I've learned because of the journey with the first Arabian horse I ever bred, Scandal Sheet (Dandy). It would be a mistake not to take you along that journey with me. It explains a lot about the horse and about the horse woman I have become.

In addition to being the first horse I ever breed, Dandy was the very first horse I started under saddle. I had seen a number of young horses started during my stint working at Feature Farm as a groom. I'd made friends with one of the assistant trainers there as well. She is the one who's brain I picked as I started down the road of training a young horse.

Even from that first foal, I have always done a lot to desensitize my young horses. Working at Feature Farm where they were always protecting horses from things that might scare them, that just didn't make much sense to me. Then with having had the problems of Scandalous running off that I was told were all my fault, I had a good healthy respect for teaching foals as soon as possible to deal with things in their environment.

By the time I finally put a surcingle on Dandy's back, he wasn't bothered by it in the least. I remember the horse was only two when I first began the process of biting him up and longing him. My assistant trainer friend assured me it would be helpful in teaching the horse how to give to pressure without having to deal with someone on his back and it would make things easier once I was ready to ride.

Actually when I think back on that first time I actually tried this process, I think about how lucky I was that Dandy was such a willing horse. He just took the whole thing in stride even though I didn't know that much about what I was doing.

I did know enough to start the horse out gradually. But gradually then and gradually now are definitely not the same thing. I didn't have a round pen. I began working the horse in the big open field behind our house. He had been taught to longe when he was a yearling, so the did know how to work around me in a circle.

I remember starting out tying the reins loosely to the surcingle and just letting them dangle. I wanted the horse to get used to them without getting pressure on his mouth. After a few laps of longing, I shortened up those reins a bit, a few more laps and a bit more shortening. Dandy was a good sport and rounded up without protest. Today I think someone should have come along and kicked me in the head for pushing too much to soon. Thankfully my horse was able to handle my inexperience.

However, I didn't push riding the horse at all. I think I spent two full years working this horse from the ground. Most of the time I bitted him up and longed him and sometimes I used the long lines.

In those early days I remember my frustration with those darn long lines wrapping around my legs, tripping me or just plain tying me up. Dandy was a champ about that too. I can't tell you how many times I hollered "Whoa!" to save myself from being dragged off because I was such a klutz with those darn lines. Never once was I in jeopardy, the horse took care of me each and every time.

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

Part 2

In this picture, Dandy is hiding behind our pump house from his older brother, Aidol.

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  1. I have been waiting to hear more about Dandy. He really is a lovely horse, and I have a (very) soft spot for bays...


  2. Wonderful post...can't wait to read more! :)

  3. I'm looking forward to more installments on Dandy's story.

    As a side question, do you imprint your foals?

  4. Horses like that are worth their weight in gold.

  5. Yeah! I'm so excited to read this story. Your love and devotion to Dandy shine out of every post you write about him and it's going to be great reading about how your relationship developed. I'm also excited to read about how you learned to train and ride at such a top notch level.

  6. lovelee, Dandy is a sweetheart that's for sure but I have lots and lots of bays on this Arabian breeding farm. lol

    equinespirit, thanks, it's fun to look back and see from where we've come.

    kathy c, I do imprint my foals to some degree. Sometimes things happen that interfer but I do as much as I can that first day. "Sitting" on them is number one on my list! I used to not think that was necessary but after a foal like Rhythm I've learned it really makes good sense and thing so much easier for the foal.

    dressagemom, I've certainly said that about this horse many many times as I'm sure you feel about Kaswyn.

    katee, well poor Dandy was my guinea pig that's for sure.

  7. RR... yes I know about all your bays ;) I think Legs is quite stunning too, and he has some really cool eyes. When I get lonely for a horse of my own, I go out to the barn I work at, or I spend time on others website, and pick which one I will buy! You have several that I would buy!

  8. The stories are very nice.

    I like the pictures of the horses. To me they are remarkable images.

  9. what a cute photo.

    Dandy's story is a good one! I can remember the 1st horse I ever trained. Those driving reins are indeed a pain!

    you know I am a sucker for a BAD way.

  10. I too love a bay horse like lovelee. I am learning so much from you Mikael, I wish I'd met you sooner. Thank you for your wonderful posts!

  11. Dandy sounds like such a sweet horse. She had you at heart while you both were learning. Those types of horses are special :).

    I look forward to more!

  12. Animals are amazing how they can sense people and adapt accordingly.

  13. I can relate to making mistakes training a first horse, but we made it through and I am surprised my guy turned out as good as he did. Maybe they know we love them and mean no harm and just put up with us. Dandy is a beautiful horse, and I love the picture that is one that should be painted and framed.

  14. This sounds like me, when I first started lunging my Dandy too, lol... "In those early days I remember my frustration with those darn long lines wrapping around my legs, tripping me or just plain tying me up. Dandy was a champ about that too. I can't tell you how many times I hollered "Whoa!" to save myself from being dragged off because I was such a klutz with those darn lines."

    Always having to stop and get untangled is quite a hassle, so thankfully the 30 ft lunge line is down to a 20 ft line, and soon enough I'll be working up to un-braiding the lunge line back to a 30 ft line.

    I just love reading your blog, but I been so busy, and busy with new baby goats outside to play with, I found no time to read, so I am gonna have to start reading again, and fast so I can catch up! lol.

  15. Aidol's neck looks 5 ft long!