Zip N Pretty, aka Fancy, is an Appaloosa mare born in 2004. She's 15.2hh and built like a tank! Several owners before me, she was used for showmanship, competitive and non-competitive trail riding, was started in reining, and apparently did some barrels for a while. She came to me as sort of a rescue… in perfect health, but the woman who owned her before me came to dislike her and was going to put her down for absolutely no reason. A close friend told me the circumstances and, without seeing her or really knowing anything about her, I committed to bringing her home.
Fancypants, as I call her, definitely needed a lot of work when I came into her life a short two months ago. Her previous owner used her for two reasons: to run the snot out of her on the trail, and to sit in the middle of the ring, talking to other riders. She was very fidgety on the cross ties and needed some work on the ground and all her gaits were extremely fast. I was told going into this that she had a lope like her hind legs were tied together, she needed spurs, she bucks occasionally, and that she’s so off-balance I shouldn’t even attempt to lope her until I get her balanced. Well, none of those things ended up being true. Fancypants turned out to be the greatest blessing to ever come into my life (besides my other rescue!).
She is the sweetest mare I've ever met in my life, and has the kindest eyes. When we first met, she nuzzled me and hugged me like, thanks for rescuing me, mom, we're going to be best friends. I got her saddled up with no problem and everyone commented on how calm she was with me on her back- her head dropped like a western pleasure horse, and she listened to all of my cues perfectly. I only rode her walk-jog, as I was wary of her lope, but I instantly felt completely bonded with her.
Once I brought her home and she settled in, we started the re-training. I finally loped her to find that she was pretty much totally balanced; could lope in small circles and everything. She definitely had a very fast-paced lope, though! In a matter of weeks she went from a very fast, clumsy trot to a collected, western pleasure-like jog. She also can pretty much do a slide stop (except the footing isn’t good to do it in) and pivots great. We connected so well, so quickly, that she can pretty much pick up on anything and everything I want to do with the slightest cues.
As far as groundwork- she learned that extremely quickly as well! She stands on the crossties great and won’t move unless I ask her to. When I go to wrap her legs, she really won’t move that leg until I’m done. She also is great for the farrier and will stand there without anyone holding her and let him do his thing. Fancypants follows me around in the field, the barn, the ring, the field- wherever I go, she goes. We’ve also worked on showmanship and she definitely has a talent for it!
The first time I took her on the trail we went on a pretty short ride, but saw a lot. We went through a field, a yard with chickens and peacocks, a creek with pretty deep sand, a lot of extremely tall grass, and over a bridge. She did all of it perfectly without a blink of the eye. She will walk, jog, lope, or gallop, and then come right back down to a walk. We went on a three hour long ride a couple weeks ago and she loved it! We’re hoping to go swimming soon, if it doesn't get too cold.
And that’s pretty much where we are now- good basic gaits, great on the ground, amazing on trails, and learning quickly. We have started looking at the barrel pattern and I hope to have her up and loping it by next spring! Currently we are working on slowing down the lope, riding one-handed, and the barrel pattern of course.
So, I’ll be posting updates probably almost every day about what’s new and how we’re doing. I know a lot of people won’t care, but I am so excited to share our story. I have truly never connected with a mare this quickly and I’m amazed at how much she loves, trusts, and listens to me. My experience with mares, especially appaloosa mares, hasn’t been a good one, but she’s renewed my faith. My goal is to be posting about the rodeos we will be tearing up in a couple years! I believe we have a very bright future, and I couldn’t be happier I saved this mare. :)
I'm going to put pictures in a separate post!