I wanted to start a journal since I'm just about to take over the reins with my new horse Cascade from her trainer. I'm going to be pretty religious at least initially about writing down what is working and what is not, so I can identify patterns.
Here is our story.
I adopted Cascade last year in May at a BLM mustang adoption. She was five years old, and at her very last chance to be adopted. I did not go into the adoption thinking I would come away with a big drafty dark chestnut roan, but sometimes life surprises you that way.
If you want to read more about the adoption, here's the thread I started as it was happening. Adopting a Mustang
I'm going out to see Cascade on the 19th. On that day the vet is coming out and we're going to sign the paperwork so she'll officially be mine! I'm also looking at saddles this weekend to bring out and try on her.
I had more fun than I probably should have shopping for all her grooming supplies.
Here are the things I still need.
A long lead rope
A training stick
Supplies for a vet kit
I'll take them one at a time. I still have until at least August until she is with me in DC.
I'll post pictures from the visit on the 19th. I go saddle shopping tomorrow!
Hi Chessie! I read through your entire Adopting a Mustang thread and was really inspired by your determination and progress! Please continue to keep us up to date! I also was wondering what trainer you decided to go with since I see you are located in Ohio and you mentioned DC?
Right now, I'm in Ohio. I'll be moving out to DC on July first. Once I get settled in, I'll do some serious looking for a good barn for Cascade to board with. As soon as I find a good place for her, her trainer is going to haul her out for me and help me get her settled.
I spent a long time on Sunday with Cascade, which was a lot of fun, but I'm fully realizing the task ahead of me as far as training goes.
Her trainer has done a good job with gentling her nicely, but hasn't really pushed her hard in training or done a whole lot of respecting space exercises.
When I get Cascade to DC, I'm going to assume that I'm starting from scratch, and not take much for granted. I figure it can't hurt to start at square one and take things slowly.
First we have to work on our bond, but my next two priorities are teaching her to respect my space. I noticed a couple of times that she thought nothing of moving in on me when I was between her and the fence, and that is NOT okay in my book. My bubble will be respected, darn it.
At the same time, I'm going to really work on desensitizing her. I think she needs much more methodical and consistent desensitizing work.
The good things I'm seeing so far is that she has a sweet demeanor and is not aggressive toward the rest of the herd. I think her confidence needs to be built up as well as some muscle tone on her top line, especially. I feel like she's floating around in this horsey head space of, "Well, those people are nice and won't hurt me, but if something scary should happen, I'm on my own, so I'd better shy."
I want to stop that lack of confidence through lots of gentle desensitizing. From what I've read and seen, I like the CA method of starting the "scary" with low energy far away from the horse. As long as she is agitated, keep doing what you are doing until she is standing perfectly quietly and ignoring the "scary". As soon as she relaxes, stop all motion and give her a break for a breather, then start up the scary again, but move a step or two closer. Wash rinse repeat, etc.
My goal would be to teach her that if something is upsetting her, the best thing to do is hold still, and then also to teach her that it doesn't matter what funky thing I'm doing, it's not going to hurt her.
It's almost time! I have found a great barn that I have a good feeling will work out for both Cascade and I, and I've been talking with her trainer in Indiana. She'll be with me soon! Now I just need to get all my supplies set up at the barn before she gets there.
I feel like I'm pregnant and nesting, but with a horse.
It has been a while but I'm starting up this journal to track some progress. It has been a busy year for Cascade and I.
Things are going fairly well, but she is a big bossy horse. I've had to step up my horsemanship, and sometimes it has taken me a little while to settle into my new stride.
I just sent Cascade away for some professional training, but now it is up to me to maintain it.
Yesterday was her first day back, so I did some ground work with her and gave her a bath so I could inspect her all over for any nicks and cuts from training.
Today was my first day on her on my own.
It didn't go terribly well.
My goals for today were to do ground work until she was moving off my cues nicely and not pulling at all on the lead. I also wanted to get her calm and settled before I tried to ride her.
I took her into the jumping arena where two other ladies were riding, and Cady wouldn't settle when I was in the saddle. She sidestepped, backed up, and went over to the gate, so I hopped down, bought her back to the round pen, and worked on our groundwork some more.
I brought her back to the jumping field and got on her again, she started off at a walk, but didn't listen to my directions when I would try to steer her. We ended up all over the place, and I didn't feel in charge, so she took advantage of that. It did give us some practice on one rein stops and backing up, which she did well.
She also didn't try to buck or do anything silly.
By the end, I made it my goal to walk with her once to the other side of the arena. When she did that, I got off. I walked her back to the gate, then made her do some quick circles at the gate, then I walked her around the arena before I took her out.
We visited the round pen one last time because I had to clean it up, but I took the opportunity to make her move again at a nice controlled trot.
Then I groomed her and put her away.
How I felt today: Focused when doing the ground work and assertive. When I got in the saddle, I was determined, but I felt a little out of control. That got to my nerves.
How Cascade felt today: She was taking every opportunity to test her boundaries. She was trying to graze while grooming, moving into my space, etc. Health wise, she had a lot of energy and not much focus.
Wednesday is farrier day, so I'm going to make sure she is behaving while having her feet done, then do some groundwork near the barn. Then I'm going to take Liberty out and ride him.
My goals: Move Liberty around the jumping arena at a trot and a canter so I can regain some confidence at those gaits. Thursday I can't ride due to an appointment, but on Friday, I want to be able to move Cascade into a confident trot and stay with her until she realizes she's not choosing our gait, I am and if she wants to slow down or stop, she has to go once around the ring under my control.
Things I need to think about today:
Patience. Rome was not built in a day. I just need to make sure to help each day go as best I can and recognize if I'm falling into a bad pattern so I can ask for help. I will get where I want and need to go with time, patience and confidence.
I need to sing the song "Let it go" while I'm riding. Fear doesn't make anything better. It is very hard to let go of as a mother and a rider though.
I love my horse.
We'll see how things go with the Farrier tomorrow. I'll have a better idea of how much she's testing everything with him tomorrow because I know how she normally acts with him. If she's being testy, it should come out tomorrow.
For the last three days I've been a ball of nervous energy, and that is definitely coming through with my horse. She did well for the farrier, but pulled her foot off the stand a couple of times, which was unacceptable.
I groomed her quickly and put her out in the pasture after her toes were trimmed, then I took out Liberty.
I focused on trotting with Liberty and gained some confidence that I can manage him at a trot, but a canter was a different story. I think I have several hang ups I need to work through.
The first is that I hate cantering. I have never liked it or felt comfortable at that pace. Ultimately, I want to get my horse to the point where she is a steady trail horse and we walk for miles and miles together through the countryside. So, the other half of my hang-up is that I don't see the NEED to canter since it plays no part in my goals and is actually counter to my goals.
However, I know that I am the primary trainer for my horse and I need to be able to ride her well and in control at any gait, even cantering.
My second hang up is that I used to own a parrot, but when I got married, the parrot HATED my husband, and it caused so much tension in my new marriage I had to find a new home for the bird I desperately loved.
I'm terrified that the same thing will happen with my horse. I even had a dream last night about my parrot dead on the floor. I'm afraid if I can't be the rider my horse needs to develop into the awesome horse I know she can be, I'll have to give her up, and that breaks my heart.
At the same time, I am afraid of getting so far in over my head that I end up hurting myself. I don't want that either because my family depends on me.
I'm not sure how I'm going to come to terms with all of this mental stuff, but I'm aware of it, and so I'll figure out a way to work through it. Someone once said that a horse is the best psychologist. I didn't anticipate she'd make me face so many demons. I know I will be a better person in the end if I can get through this. I will be brave, bold, and strong, three things I've always wanted to be.
I'm getting some help. One of the ladies at the barn is a very experienced instructor, and she's going to help me get through this.
Tomorrow I have an appointment, so I'm just going to groom Cady quickly and do some brief groundwork. On Friday I'm going to ride her again.
My goal for tomorrow is to relax and to remind myself I have a great little horse. The problem is not with her at this point.