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Monday, February 14, 2011

Got Horse, Got Tack, Whats next...

Well we now have a horse, we have a way to transport said horse from point A to Point B and we have the tack required to ride the horse. Life is looking good. I have since come to understand that when life is looking good, the other boot (usually cover with muck and mud) has not fallen.

I thought it would be a good idea for Beamer's mom, The Instigator to do a few lessons with her new horse just to get acquainted with him. Grammy thought this was a good idea as well so she treated The Instigator to a few lessons. There was a trainer that several of the boarders at the barn used and they all thought she was great. Se we hired her for a few lessons. Yet another lesson learned the hard way. We didn't know anything about her or her methods, we were relying entirely on hear-say around the barn. The first lesson didn't go to bad bit I was starting to suspect that this trainer was better with horses than with people. By the end of the second, and last, lesson with her I was sure. Now The Instigator had not been riding long so she had not built up certain muscles and callouses yet. The trainer kept her on the horse for nearly two hours. I finally had to call an end to the lesson when I saw tears in The Instigator's eyes. Just what I need. A trainer who drove my kid to tears for no apparent reason. These were just basic riding lessons. That was the end of that.

The Instigator was doing well riding Beamer so we decided it was time to take him down to Westernaires and introduce him to the madness and mayhem otherwise known as the owner's parking lot. Now the other boot falls. Did you know that it takes a while for a horse to learn to trust a new owner? Did you know that some horses will refuse to get in "that large scary cave where lions live on wheels", otherwise known as a trailer, until they trust you? I know that now. We did manage to get him into the trailer in not too much time and get down to Westernaires. It took us two hours to get him in the trailer to come home and we were the last trailer out of there that night. We were a little perturbed, to say the least.

Time for a trainer. We went back to the first trainer since we really didn't know anybody else to turn to. She was able to get the horse into the trailer fairly easily. But she couldn't teach us how to do it. After several weeks we were no better off. Beamer would get into the trailer for her, but not for us and we were not making any progress. Then one day while we were working on trailering, a new trainer showed up at the barn. She was there to work with somebody else and saw us trying to get the horse in the trailer. It was not going well and she took mercy on us. She came over and showed us how to get the horse in the trailer and explained a bit of what she was doing. Her method was a bit different than the first trainer and with a little explanation behind us, we at least had chance of getting the horse into the trailer. In the end, instead of taking over an hour to get the horse in the trailer, it ended up taking us about a half-hour to get the horse in the trailer. Better, but still not right.

So one Saturday we were trying to load the horse and friend of one of the other boarders showed up. She saw us struggling to get the horse into the trailer and asked us if we needed help. I politely said now, that we needed to work this out for ourselves. She said that she was a certified Parelli trainer and she could help us. So I said okay. She didn't do anything real different than the other trainers had done except she provided a much better explanation of what we were doing wrong and how to fix it.

The first two trainers basically took the approach that you drive the horse and work it hard enough so that the trailer becomes a safe place to rest. But we were working the horse so hard that he was no longer thinking. This trainer got us to all calm down and then showed us how to apply pressure to the horse by tapping lightly on the flank to encourage the horse to step forward. 5 minutes later the horse was in the trailer. We backed the horse out and The Instigator and I tried. Took a bit longer, but we got the horse into the trailer. That young lady moved away within the week but she did give us some good direction and peak our interest in Parelli.

Now this whole adventure lasted some three or four months. It was no small source of frustration for us and even after or brief experience with Parelli methods, it was still not perfect. He would jerk his head up and back and it was by the grace of God alone that he never managed to split his head open. But during this whole time The Instigator was continuing to work with Beamer. She was riding and grooming and doing round pen work. As we gained a bit more confidence in ourselves and Beamer came to trust us a bit more the trailering challenge resolved itself. All we have to do now is walk him to the back of the trailer, toss the lead rope over his back and tell him to step up. He steps right into the trailer and stands calmly.

So what did learn from this. Talk to potential trainers. Trainers need to do two things well. First, they need to be able to train a horse. This one is pretty obvious but you need to know how this person works with horses and have they trained enough horses to really know what they are doing. Second, and more importantly, they need to be able to train you. Horses learn fairly quickly if you are consistent and patient. Most of us are neither consistent nor patient. And that is where a good trainer really comes through. We lack consistency and patience because we do not know what we need to do. When a horse does something we don't want it to do and we don't know how make it stop, we get mad and do the wrong stuff that usally makes the situation worse. A good trainer can show you what to do and explain why you do it. Once you know that, when the horse acts up, you know what to do and it is so much easier to remain calm.

Okay, so the tally stand thus:
Daughter: $900.00 for horse

Dad: $100 dollars for horse
$950 for trailer
$550 for receiver and hitch.
$300 first months boarding
$450 for saddle, breast collar and cinch
$120 for saddle pad
$200 for headstall, reigns and grooming supplies
$75 for miscellaneous sundries such as muck rake and bucket and the like.
$200 for trailer training
$1200 for four months board.
$50 for grain (Grain! Are you kidding me! Why do hay burners need grain! Next up - nutrition)

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