Breaking Nala - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 07-23-2012, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Back in ON
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Breaking Nala

Someone suggested that I make a thread about working with my newest horse in this forum, I am.

Nala is a 3 YO registered AQHA filly/mare named NLD Hancock Bar. She is out of Martins Cute Bar and by NLD Special Hancock, and was foaled in Saskatchewan. Her birthday is May 9 ('09). Currently she stands around 14 hands.

Nala is special because she will be the first horse I start from scratch myself. I will admit she is the least handled horse I've ever worked with, but so far things seem to be going alright. And though I plan on doing as much as I can by myself, my trainer is always just a phone call away if and when I run into problems or am unsure about something. I don't know everything and I don't claim to, so having someone extremely knowledgable and experienced available is a very nice assurance to have.

Right now, I bought her with the intention of reselling later on, but that remains to be seen. It depends on A) how well the training turns out (if I make a mistake -which I don't intend on doing- I would keep her to make sure she doesn't end up somewhere I wouldn't want her) and B) how attached I get to her in the next year At any rate, I promised mom and dad I would sell at least one of my horses next year...I have too many So whether that's her or one of my older well broke horses, I'm not sure right yet.

If anyone decides to follow along, you can fully expect daily picture updates, which will hopefully make the reading a bit easier

I'll give you a brief recap on how things have gone since I brought her home.
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post #2 of 20 Old 07-23-2012, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Nala Comes Home

Monday July 16: Day One

I hooked the trailer up and drove over to pick up my new horse about 11.30 in the morning. I'd paid for her the Friday before, but the owner wanted to be there when I got her because she was concerned she wouldn't load.

I went out to the field to get her (she was pretty good to halter, though she tossed her head up when it touched her ears), led her out to the trailer, and she walked right on without hesitation. So much for hard to load.

As soon as I had tied her and left her head, she began getting upset and panicky, so we got underway and didn't give her any more time to be a fool. The whole way home, I could feel her prancing around, shaking the trailer, and hear her whinnying.

At home, as soon as I got in the trailer with her and talked calmly to her, she was quiet, and was pretty calm when she unloaded. Her new herd came racing over to the fence to see this golden abnormality, and looked at her as though they'd never seen a horse before in their lives.

I put her in one of the big grass paddocks with my oldest, quietest mare (who is also at the bottom of the pecking order), and the older mare, a little surprisingly, started bossing her around and moving her a little, but mostly they were quiet.

So, I put the next mare in the pecking order out. As soon as she was off the lead and I stepped away, she turned and galloped to the end of the field to confront the intruder. She chased Nala around for quite a while, and made sure to keep her well separated from the older mare.

Last I put in the dominant mare, who immediately began moving both Nala and the middle mare (because the middle mare was getting a little too obsessive with her bullying). They galloped around, kicking and charging and being horses for a few hours, but by nightfall they had mostly worked it out and were pretty quiet.

I didn't work with Nala her first day besides doing my usual rounds of the field once every few hours. That means petting, putting flyspray on them...just general mauling that Nala never got at her old place(s). She wasn't sure she liked all this human contact, and avoided me pretty adamantly (never running, but at times I would be walking her down for 5 or 10 minutes), but they all come around eventually.
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post #3 of 20 Old 07-23-2012, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Hooking Up

Tuesday July 17: Day Two

I took Nala into the round pen today and did a hook up with her.

I also introduced her to the saddle pad to get a feel for how she might be for saddling, and she was perfectly easy with it.

The old owner had warned me that she's pretty skittish...and OK, yes she was. But when you consider the circumstances: a 3YO horse who hasn't had much handling, in a new place with new people and horses, she's not too bad at all. Even on the second day, I felt like she'll be a really quiet horse when she settles down and gets some training. She is the 'jumpy' type of skittish - meaning she jumps, but she never takes it to her head or gets very anxious and worried and stupid. She jumps, and then it just slides right off her back.

And you could tell she had her basic handling done: she can back, move her hips and shoulders, lift her feet (though it takes a bit of persuasion; she's just still so heavy in the front and doesn't know how to shift her weight that it's difficult for her to pick up her fronts)...none of this perfectly, but she could at least do it. She didn't know much else though. She can tie a bit, and she does know how to give to pressure - she just isn't consistent about it and at times tries to fight it.

And she desperately needed some lessons on respecting my space. She wasn't aggressive or pushy disrespectful, but when she got scared she really had no regard for where I was (which is the worst type of disrespectful), and I had to give her a few to teach her that even if there is a pride of hungry lions between us, there is never, ever an excuse for her to approach me without permission.

Mostly though, that disrespect made me step back and find that alright yes, she does need to respect me ALWAYS, but I also should go easy on her and give her a bit of slack. I need to break this down piece by piece: work on respect and such in quiet places before taking her out of her comfort zone into 'scary' situations and expecting the same level of behaviour. Does that make any sense at all? Basically, I needed to TEACH her what I expect before realistically being able to expect it.
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Last edited by Paradise; 07-23-2012 at 06:56 PM.
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post #4 of 20 Old 07-23-2012, 09:02 PM
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Haha that was me who mentioned that you should do this :)
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post #5 of 20 Old 07-24-2012, 05:08 PM
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post #6 of 20 Old 07-27-2012, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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First Saddling

Wednesday July 18: Day Three

I started the day by taking Nala for a walk, and then took her into an enclosed paddock so we could have quiet and focus.

I introduced her to her very first saddle today. She insisted on having a thorough smell of it for a few minutes, but when I went to put it up on her back after, she was perfectly fine with it. I had rubbed and tugged and pulled on her with the girth before, so when I went to do that up, she was fine with it as well.

I took her out into the middle of the field then to start her with the concept of lunging. We just stayed at a walk today, and worked to get her to maintain a relatively even circle around me without pulling too much.

I am super conscious of working with her equally on both the right and left sides. It feels like she's more comfortable being handled from the left, so I'm trying to make her 'ambidextrious', I guess There's so much stuff that you would never even think twice of around a broke horse that you need to work with and prepare a greenie to accept - like things dropping around her, like blankets slipping off her back (so she doesn't self destruct when it happens for real, like some horses will), like things touching her legs and random parts of her body...stuff like that.

It's sort of your natural tendency around a skittish horse to be quieter and gentler so you don't spook her, but I have to keep reminding myself to just do it normally, or she'll never learn to accept it. I tried jumping beside her, and she went AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She looked at me like I had snapped and gone completely insane. She was pretty terrified Something to work on..
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post #7 of 20 Old 07-27-2012, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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More o' the Same

Thursday July 19: Day Four

I just continued with more of the same: lunging, yielding her body parts, picking up feet, tying, standing...generally, just getting her accustomed and in keeping with her new routine.
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post #8 of 20 Old 07-27-2012, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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First Bridling

Friday July 20: Day Five

For the first time, Nala approached me in the field when I went out to see her in the morning. I didn't even touch her until I got home from work, but I could tell even then that something had 'clicked' with her overnight.

And it had. She literally seemed like a new horse - twice as quiet, twice as respectful and was pretty amazing.

Well, I wanted to start her driving, but I realized as soon as I tied her up that it's WAY too early for that - this horse has never even worn a bridle. So I brought a bridle out, took the reins off, and poured some molasses on the bit and went to work.

I let her lick some of the molasses for a taste, then rubbed the leather all over her face and ears especially until she submitted to it, because she seems to dislike halters and whatnot being pulled up over her ears. I stuck a finger in the corners of her mouth and massaged her tongue and gums, and petted all parts of her lips and chin and face until she accepted it.

She didn't lower her head on cue very well yet, so I just pulled up a block so I could reach her and gradually started asking for more. She resisted pretty hard a few times, but after a lot of calm and gentle urging, we worked up to getting her taking the bit.

I let her hold and drop it a few times before putting the headstall up over her ears, and then left her tied to think about and chew and mouth on the bit while I went back to the house for a much-needed drink. I came back to find her standing quietly, so unbridled and bridled her once more (she's still unsure, but was much quieter this time around), and then called it a day.
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post #9 of 20 Old 07-28-2012, 09:04 PM
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She's adorable! What do you plan to train her in? (sorry if you said that and I missed it)
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post #10 of 20 Old 07-28-2012, 09:37 PM
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She's lovely :)

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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