Monday, September 24, 2007

Back in Training

Patience is a virtue.

I haven't had Sunny saddled since my less than graceful dismount five weeks ago. With both fairs that Darling has been to, getting sheep ready and picking up hay, training has taken a back seat. Yesterday morning I woke up early, and as I sat at the computer the idea came to me that perhaps I ought to take Sunny out on a long walk. LONG, long walk. Saddled.

We live just up the road from an old logging road that has been maintained in recent years by the Back Country Horsemen. In my youth, the trails were maintained by us. Meaning, my folks lived just a mile down the road and when we were kids we'd blaze new trails and ride old logging roads up there all the time. It's been years since I've been up there, but why not take advantage of it's close proximity?

Just one thing stopping us. Well...two things. First, I've not got a trailer to get a horse down there. Second, Sunny's never been around cars, so leading her the 1/4 mile on the narrow, winding road probably wouldn't be the safest thing until she proved that moving vehicles didn't upset her.

My plan, then, was to keep this girl busy today and introduce her to cars. But first, it was breakfast time. I saddled her up, tossed a couple flakes of hay in the manger, and left her to stand for about an hour. That's a long time for some horses, but Sunny is patient and she didn't mind. No pawing at the ground, shuffling around or crying out for her pasture mates.

Sunny munches contentedly on breakfast.

After an hour, I took off the saddle. I had a few errands to run, so Sunny was left to be a horse for what she likely assumed would be the rest of the day. Wrong. Upon returning home in the afternoon I caught her once again and began working with her. I've got a plan for her right side; do everything from it. I'd saddled her from the right side in the morning, and now I did it again. I started grooming from the right side, tossed the saddle blanket onto her, then saddle. She didn't care. What's with this horse, anyway? So frustrating...

City Boy offers Sunny a blade of grass.

Once saddled, I began leading her around out in the yard where the whole family (well, the four of us) gathered around her face. For Sunny, her face has always been an issue; she's been very protective of it. Although she was a bit concerned about someone on each side and two people in front, she didn't panic or back away. Both City Boy and our son reached out to stroke and pet her from the sides and she stood right there. She's never had someone on each side petting, and for someone completely new to her to be on the right side while she stood patiently was surprising to me, to say the least.

From there, we moved on. The lawn mowers were being rearranged in the shed, parked for the winter. City Boy began riding one of them back and forth past Sunny, sometimes coming within just a few feet. The first time, Sunny turned to see what it was that was so loud. Lawn mowers are nearly as loud as airplanes, in my mind. Far noisier than cars. But Sunny was good as gold.

Takes more than a lawn mower to frighten Sunny.

Since the lawn mower didn't bother her, I went out to the end of the driveway to wait for a car. We don't get a lot of traffic, but Sunny was a good sport and waited patiently for a car to drive by. They slowed way down so as not to spook her, so I waited for another car. The second car slowed down, too. As did the third. Where are rude drives when you need them? Sunny passed the car test, needless to say, and I'm very pleased. If the weather holds, I'll try leading her down to the trail this week.

Cars? Who's afraid of cars?

And if this post wasn't long enough already...well, there's more! After unsaddling, I picked up both front feet and cleaned them without her batting an eye! Lots of gravel from the driveway, so glad I did. Couldn't quite get the back ones up, but she's letting me run my hand down to the hock before getting jumpy. Hopefully it won't be long!

Now, for those of you still interested in the Mustang Makeover results, I've got more posted just beneath this post. Sorry about the black text; it was a cut and paste job and I forgot that it doesn't automatically change to something a bit easier to read.

Desperate Horsewife
Wild Horse Calendars now available!


Marvel said...

Fantastic reading!! For a gaited rider of nearly 30 years, I have a new awareness and respect for the Mustang.

Marvel, again said...

Added your link to my blogsite. Wouldn't want anyone to miss your diary.

Tracey said...

Thank you, Marvel! Did you know there are naturally gaited mustangs? Pretty cool :)

photogchic said...

Sounds like Sunny is coming around. Great progress. I love the action shot of City Boy cruising by on the lawnmower---good stuff!

Andrea said...

What awesome progress! She's going to be a great horse. I can't wait to see pictures of your hike. I wish I could join you!

Rising Rainbow said...

Wow, she has sure come a long way. Good for you! Let us know how your hike goes.

Standing and watching the lawnmower is really a big deal!!

Tracey said...

Thanks, everyone. Yes, I was pleased with how she reacted to everything. But you know, that's just her, isn't it? I mean, it's 100% either one way or the other, lol!