I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last blog.
Okie and Gwen have come to the ranch and are settling in! They both came with a lot of hair loss due to a fly bite allergy (I think!) and Okie was quite thin. Since their time here, they have gotten 3 or 4 baths, gone through copious amounts of fly spray, and are both eating high quality feed twice a day. I am happy to report that their dry scaly skin is clearing up and hair that was patchy at best has turned to sleeky coats. Okie has probably gained 100-200 lbs and now a saddle fits him where we had none that would fit due to his extremely high withers!
Today, Okie passed his mock lesson that gets him into the program. What does that mean?
Okie and Gwen started out just settleing in. They met the rest of the herd over a fence so that they could get a feel for who wanted to be the leader, but so they could only "talk smack" and not actually hurt each other. When they all got together we had no arguments and now Gwen is starting to make friends with Rocky and Dawn. Okie is still pretty intimidated by everyone!
Then I started out riding everyone and as I get comfortable with what their behavior would be I started allowing conditioning team members to ride them. Okie has been brave and bold under saddle (or in his case, under bareback pad). He tromps through the woods and creeks like it's no bodies business! He is still a little bit nervous about the ramp, but today our newest, most inexperienced horse handler, Becca Moore, schooled him and desensitized him to the ramp like a pro! And as expected, under saddle he was bold and brave while Cindy Stearns rode him with side walkers crowding him, bubble blowing, walking through hoola hoops and having rings put on his ears. We played catch, cheered with a pom pom, weaved cones, walked over a bridge, passed a noodle back and forth ... We do all this after having done some desensitizing excercises with no rider on his back.
Gwen came with no self confidence. I don't know why, except that she had just been turned out and not handled much in the past 2-3 years. We are still working on building her confidence through desensitzing activities. She doesn't understand what legs mean and she gets quite upset when you "kick" her to make her go forward. Well duh, Patty! She came to us having been trained to be a vaulting horse! She lunges beautifully. Now I am having the conditioning team lunge her and then I ride her and we have gotten into a trot without her getting upset. I can ride her at a walk with no assistance now. We have had our arguments, but she is starting to realize that I have a harder head than she does. Her confidence is growing and on Sunday, Bill Thater was able to lean on her and groom her and she actually turned towards him and was whuffling (yes, that is a word!) her nostrils at him, not pretending that he was not there! We have another week or two before she gets into classes, but I am not in too big of a hurry. She will be a great horse for veterans whenever they start coming to the Ranch!
We get to repeat the process soon as (probably sometime next week) Bubba a 10 year old 16.2 hand Thoroughbred gelding will come to the ranch!
Come out and meet the herd sometime!