Monday, November 10, 2008

MiKael Meets Richard......Getting Started

Part 1

By this time I was trailering 4 of my Arabian horses over to the barn and Richard was helping me with all of those horses except Dandy. Every now and then either Vee or Storm would stay for a sleep over so that Richard could play with them.

Dandy was and probably always will be my project. Because of his bout with EPM the horse needs to stay in shape and I love working with him. Poor guy, he's also been my guinea pig for all of these years. Now I was experimenting with him with what I'd learned from Richard about a technique he calls boxing that he was using with Legs.

Putting Richard and I together with horses can lead almost anywhere. We both are passionate about what we do and it resonates throughout our work together. We have lots of conversations about that passion and where it's led both of us. Richard to his work with problem horses and me breeding Arabian horses.

Along the course of these conversations we managed to touch on the things holding me up in making that name for myself as a breeder of fine horses. The biggest issue of course has been getting those horses trained and into the ring. Every time I get one started it gets sold and then somehow doesn't reach it's potential.......but that's another story.

Working Storm has been my priority. He's already started and I figured I could easily have him ready to show as a hunter next year. Then I have a wish list of who I'd get trained for what with Tag at the top of that list. As a 3 year old, if I get the horse started I could actually show a junior horse for next year and even the following year if I didn't get him sold. Then after Tag are Louie and Percy. Both are 4 and would be eligible to show as junior horses next year as well.

During the course of some of those conversations Richard told me I should bring Tag over. At first I thought he was just being kind but after several repetitions of the invitations I realized that Richard was serious so one day I brought Tag to Richard's day camp.

Now, I've said it before and I'll probably say it a zillion times more, the horses I breed are late bloomers. These particular bloodlines are late to mature and there really isn't anything you can do to hurry them along. They grow when they're darn good and ready and they mature even later than that.

Tag is one of those horses. Currently he's about 15 hands high which is tall for one of my 3 year olds. I think when all is said and done he's going to be a really big horse. He's very leggy and lanky looking.........more like a teenager than a mature horse. Despite this physical immaturity, he shows all the signs of really wanting a job.

Richard took one look at Tag and called him a baby as he led him down to the arena. I'm pretty sure if Tag was capable of understanding those words he'd be offended. He'd really like to believe that he's one of the big boys. There's nothing more that he wants than to please.

I think that Richard's way of starting a horse and mine are very much the same except for one little detail. Richard operates on fast forward compared to my long, slow, drawn out approach.

We both do the same steps but I accomplish a step and stop for the day. Richard does a step and moves on to the next. As long as the horse seems comfortable Richard keeps moving along with his program.

So Tag went into the arena never having seen a saddle before and he emerged with his first ride under his belt. In the middle there was putting some cues in place like "whoa" and moving off, some refreshers on his longing. Oh yes, and the very important dropping of the horse's head and asking the horse to submit. There was sacking out before and after saddling and lunging with the saddle in place.By the time Richard was through with all of those the only left to do was to put some dead weight in the saddle.

That's Jessica's job. She is Richard's dead weight. She puts weight where Richard wants it, when he wants it and she removes it when told. Her job is to get the horse used to the feeling of weight in the stirrups to start and then on his back.

Richard has Jessica wear a belt so if he needs to grab her to keep her safe, he has something to hold on to. When Jessica actually gets on the back of a young horse like Tag, Richard has her hold her near arm out towards him so she is already set up to roll off onto Richard, grabbing his shoulder, if need be.

Tag took to all of this like he'd pretty much been doing it his whole life. I think there were a couple of times where Richard grabbed Jessica off the horse but it was more precautionery than actual need. Richard watches for the horse's shoulder to get tight as a clue that something might be wrong. Tag, however, didn't seem to be flapped and they all just went back to doing what they were doing.

Before they were done with the first session (which lasted about two hours) Tag had not only carried a rider but walked and trotted with one on a longe line. Oh and did I mention that the horse wanted to follow Richard around like a puppy? If anything interferred with the day's forward movement it was Tag's new found adoration for Richard.

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

Part 2

I will be posting about Rachel and Grandma soon. I am, however, currently in compose mode for that one........trying to figure out where to start or pick up, I guess. In the meantime there's a lot to catch up on with Richard. Hold onto your seats. This is quite a ride.

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  1. What a lucky find. I need someone like that to start my boy... I can't wait to hear more... Sitting on the edge of my seat here.

  2. It is so nice to have a horse like that, I am lucky that most of mine are like that, they have good minds and dont need a lot to get them started.

    Looking forward to more of this too.

    Thanks for the e-mail I wil be in touch soon (Yeah right, I can hear you LOL)


  3. Oh, 'Richard's Day Camp' sounds like so much fun! I wish I could stand on the rail and watch!!!

  4. I like Tag! He sounds adorable.

  5. I think I have a new found adoration for Tag and Richard... but I think I've always liked Richard, because he's a man involved with Arabian horses :)

    That will be the can of man I want to marry, a man with a love for Arabian horses, and can also train them too :)

    My dream is 40 acres, a man with a love for Arabian horses, and maybe to buy some of your fine Arabian horses. I really like the bloodlines in your horses. And check out this horse I really like, he has An Malik back in his pedigree, and this music is perfect. It also really reminds me of you and your fine chesnut horses :)

  6. i didn't think of it at the time when i first read this, but richard's idea to use a belt to heft jessica to safety reminds me of the "gait belts" we use on nursing home residents to help them walk. in fact, all nursing home employees have their own gait belt - we wear them to keep them handy - and we used them on all ambulant residents as a safety measure. it is the safest way of catching/stabilizing someone about to fall, because you've got their center of gravity right there. i wonder if richard had a background in healthcare and that is where he got the idea.