Diablo - Chapter One
Ok so, he's not really mine, but I get to work with him and have 'fun' lol.
His name is Diablo and he is an 8 year old APHA black and white gelding with two blue eyes (Will post pics later lol). He is currently at the place I am keeping my horse as my horse's only companion and the owner hasn't messed with him much so has given me FULL permission to work, train, and ride him as I wish since she has too many other horses to do anything with. At first I wanted to charge her, at least just a little, because in my mind it's 'free' training for her and this horse which, once trained, could get her a good bit of money later....However, I LOVE this horse (so far lol) and the owner is considering selling/giving him to me anyway some time down the line. I don't hold my hopes up but I'm going with it anyway....If I train him and he's sold to someone else, I'm in the hole, but I know it. I just like working with him too much to push him aside when he CLEARLY needs attention (in more ways than one).
So, I asked her a bit about his background. Turns out that 2 years ago she sort of 'rescued' him from being a stud. He was kept up in a stall 24/7 and only let out to breed, then shoved back in his stall. She got him gelded as soon as she bought him and had him for a few months when a friend of hers saw him and fell in love. So, since his owner didn't really have a use for him, and LOVES ponies, they traded. Diablo for a babysitter type pony. Well, a good few months to a year later, her friend calls her and gives her a story that she was going through a REALLY hard divorce and could no longer care for Diablo, so, his owner bought him back (making twice now that she put money into him. Oh yeah, and the poor pony passed away from age in this time as well) So, his owner told her friend to bring him by. When he was dropped off, apparently he was VERY skinny and acted like he hadn't been handled at all the whole time her friend owned him, even though the friend said that she rode him a few times....So now his owner has him back and still doesn't have much to do with him because he's really just too big for her liking. She has told me that she has had other people up on him, and has pictures of herself up on him as well.
Well, I was looking at leasing this horse a few months ago anyway, so I went out and gave him a few of my tests. How does he catch, how does he listen, does he respect space, is he spooky, and can he lunge (not just round pen) He failed at just about ALL of those!!! But something still pulled on my heart strings for him...Maybe it's the chunk missing out of his ear, or the phantom of the opera mask over one side of his face with two blue eyes. Maybe there was just something in those beautiful eyes that called to me..."Love me...Help me....And I will love you too". However, that was when I explained I wouldn't just train him for free, and had to walk away from him, even though my heart ached as I did so...
The woman messages me out of the blue one day excited that she knows someone that lives about a block from her with an open pasture for super cheep. She knew I was having issues with my current boarding facility since I had asked if she would mind me boarding at her place for work/money (which would have included training Diablo for her). But she had too many horses on her property as it was and couldn't bring on another. Which of course I highly respected. But, when I heard of this place, you better believe I jumped up and ran to go look at it!!!
It's EVERYTHING I need!!! 3-4 acres of lush grass that's fenced and safe, a sturdy barn, and basically ALLLL to myself! I couldn't believe it! However, I had just sold my mom's horse not 3 weeks prior...so now my horse doesn't have a buddy...This is where Diablo comes in! His owner, knowing that she wants to bring in a new pony since her old from the trade for Diablo died, she needs to clear some space on her property, but isn't quite ready to sell Diablo, really one of the only horses she doesn't utilize AT ALL other than her yearling filly. So...she pays the people board to keep him over there!!! Now, Me being Me...I can't just pass this up and ask if there is anything I should or should not do with her horse. She doesn't care one lick so long as I don't harm him or put him in danger (she has rescued him twice after all, so I totally understand). She even gave me full permission to ride him, work him, bathe him, and feed him (she'd provide the feed if I wished) as if he were my horse anyway...So I basically have a free lease!!!
You are probably wondering where the 'training' comes into this story by now lol. Well, here it is...On the first day I went out to go see just what I could do with him, he showed his rear on several occations...but absolutely NONE of it was mean. He has deffinately NOT been handled regularly, or taught mannors. He is now 8 years old, and while she has pics of her riding him, I just don't know if that's even close to an option at this point. He 'fleed' from the halter and lead rope as if it were on fire...and not really out not wanting to be caught...but what looked like out of FEAR. (I do NOT blame his owner as I have seen how well she cares for and treats all her other horses, so believe that this is from his stud days, as well as the year being with that 'friend') I finally manage to get him by cornering him (not usually something I'd do, trust me) and just letting him relax in that area. Once he relaxed, I'd step forward and make my personal 'relax' sound, which are super soft little kisses, all the while, not looking up at him and standing sideways. When I get closer to him, I extend my hand out with a treat in it, which spooks him further into the corner. I don't follow, but do the same as before. The second time I offered him the treat, though his eyes were WIDE, he did take it. After that he let me touch his cheek, then neck. I managed to get the lead rope over his neck and the rope halter around his face. Once there, he knew he was 'caught' and was pretty well behaved though didn't watch his feet too well and nearly stepped on me, even clipped the back of my shoe once. So...that was fun! lol
Second thing on the list, is to see how he bathes, as I am always wanting to rinse them off at least if not bathe them at least once a month just for good health since they are out in the pasture. Don't want any dirty skin to get itchy and so on. Well...oh my goodness...You'd think the water was a grizzly!!! That was NOT fun let me tell you what!!! I didn't tie him down as I just knew something bad would happen, so, I just held his rope, and gently worked the water over him. He freaked out, backed away, kneeled, crow hopped, and did just about anything BUT buck or rear! I did it all slowly and calmly, and while I gave him 'time', I never took it off of him until he decided to stand still, not wanting to teach him that by spazzing out would get him out of the grizzly's maw. lol. It took about 20 minutes of this, but eventually, he calmed down and let me spray him everywhere, though watched me with WIDE eyes the entire time, not really sure if he trusted this horse eater just yet lol.
Now, since the flies were out BAD (the big bomber makes your horse bleed type of flies) I decide to give him an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse as well. OH MY GEE!!! Now this...this was a lion and it was DEFINITELY going to eat him!!! Poor thing fought for his life!!! But, I took the same steps. Shook the jug and let it slosh around, let him smell it, put it up to him, and just let him keep backing up, side stepping, hopping around, until he realized that the lion, was no more than a pesky kitten. Another good 20 minutes or so of that...joy...lol. Did I mention it's like 105 degrees at this point! Good thing the water was cold! lol. So, I let the vinegar settle just a bit, then go back to rinsing him....As if I hadn't just spent nearly and hour showing him that liquids would not hurt him...he was once again a firecracker of horse flesh....-sigh- At least this time it was only about 10-15 minutes before he calmed down, and even did the hoof tilt of relaxation after a good while of being rinsed!!! I was so very proud of him!
Meanwhile...my horse is tied up to the side watching with this look of "Really? Are you serious? Whatever...Mmm...that grass is JUUUUST out of reach...darn...I guess I'll keep watching this silly boy make a fool of himself" lol. Her expression alone got me giggling! Which spooked poor Diablo all over again! Poor guy!!!
So....this is just the first of many days of ground work...lol. I hope that he isn't too old, or just too far 'gone' to really gentle and calm as, if the opportunity arises, I would REALLY love to make this horse fully and legally mine some day...
What are your thoughts? Also, I love hearing suggestions to different approaches to take as well.