Retraining Angel: The Chronicles - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 07-22-2014, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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Retraining Angel: The Chronicles

I have recently purchased a beautiful 9 year old quarter horse cross mare, and this journal will highlight the journey of her retraining.

As a quick back story, she was ridden when she was younger, but her owners "lost their passion" for horses and left her to sit in a pasture for three years. (Along with their young gelding and mare. The mare had a stroke last winter and they didn't even come to see her, despite being told she would die!)

I fell in love with Angel when I first met her. She had gentle eyes and a sweet disposition and all she really seemed to want was someone to feed her treats and scratch her behind the ears. She was not bad mannered or pushy. I bought her about a month after getting to know her. (Visited every day for a solid month, taking her out of the pasture, brushing, testing her around things, etc.)

Now, the reason I call this "retraining", is partly due to the fact that she hasn't been ridden in so long, but also because apparently her previous training was lacking just about everything that I would have done with a horse. In her youth after a winter off from riding, a young man (inexperienced with horses) tossed a saddle on her back and hopped on with no preparation, no nothing. She promptly bucked his amateur butt off her back, and because he broke his arm when he fell, she was labelled as "dangerous".

I don't take this lightly, and I wouldn't have gone anywhere near this horse if I wasn't confident with my own abilities with horses. I also have an experienced horse trainer (our barn manager) by my side, and he's expressed that he's eager to help with anything that needs to be done. He was sick of watching her potential wasted and he's ready and willing to assist me whenever I may need it.

With that said, here's my beautiful girl, Angel! Updates to come.
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-22-2014, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Updating right after posting, but I meant to post the intro a week ago!

When I first started working with Angel, she would kick out with her back feet when you asked for them and just plain wouldn't pick up the front ones. Now, she does it flawlessly and puts them back down gently, no stomping allowed! Her hooves are much longer than I am comfortable with, and getting chips along the edges and I'm desperate for a farrier to come trim her. I'm getting in contact with him this week as well and will hopefully have him out within a month. (He lives 6 hours away. Go figure.)

This mare is so flubby!! She has been eating to her hearts content and not exercising, so there is no muscle in this girl. I'm starting her round penning this week as well to start working her back into a routine and build up some of that muscle she'll need when we EVENTUALLY start riding. Which I'm not even thinking about right now, there's too much else to work on.

Angel is going to be an incredible trail horse. I've seen her in several stressful situations since getting to know her, and she is not spooky. Another horse went into a bucking fit right beside her and she let me quietly untie her and lead her calmly out of the way. She was nervous, but she didn't react negatively. She also has no reaction to plastic bags, ropes, throwing brushes and rocks around, motorcycles, cars, children... Anything I've been able to throw at her.

Tonight we worked on the ever scary fly spray. Paul (barn manager) told me she's terrible with it so I wanted to see what we could do. Started by holding her lead and spraying to the side. Didn't phase her. She didn't like when I started spraying her legs, and I let her walk, circling her around me. (Like fake lunging!) Her circles were calm, she was content to move her feet to ease her nerves. Once I whoa'd and she settled, I sprayed again. When she stood still and accepted the spray without walking off, I stepped back and praised her and let her have a break.

I'm not sure if this is the conventional method, but by the end of the night she was being sprayed from head to toe with almost zero reaction. Paul was shocked.

Also took her for a walk with another mare and her owner, and she was, well, an Angel. Other horse owners are starting to trust her now that they see me working with her and that she's not "scary" like they thought!

These good things said, I also had a moment yesterday where I was leading from the pasture (had a good 20 acre walk to the gate) and the entire herd decided to gallop to the gate ahead of me. Angel immediately began trotting. I settled her down to a walk, but after probably three seconds she BOLTED. I'm talking full on gallop. Off she went, lead rope flapping in the wind! When I found her, she was looking miserable by the gate, standing on the rope with her back legs and unable to move her head. Quickly fixed her up, trotted her back down the field and walked back up with no bolting problems.

Oh, she also follows me to the gate now without lead rope or halter, which I've begun utilizing so the bolting isn't an issue. I bring my rope and halter down wherever she is, show her an apple and walk away. She follows, no matter how far the distance is. At the gate she gets treats and I put her halter on and bring her out! Much easier. (People say she's hard to catch... Bah.)

That's all for now! Things are going well.
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-23-2014, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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Had a visit with Angel this evening! I wanted to lunge her in the roundpen but it was so hot that I decided against it. Brushed her, picked out her hooves and checked them carefully to see what needs doing. Her soles and frogs are great, no thrush, but definitely in need of a trim.

Angel also seems to have a new favourite snack! Bread with olive oil and molasses. (Smells terrible!) She went nuts for it.

Trotted her up and down the road (and learned quickly that I am soooo out of shape) and she did well, up until she decided she wanted to eat instead. Hauled her out of the grass and did a trot circle with her and brought her back.

Tried to do some fly spray work, but the area suddenly got crowded with cars and people from after the lessons and there wasn't really room for my "circling" technique.

Spent the rest of my evening walking around the pasture looking for dangerous stuff, Angel following diligently behind. It was a good day.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-23-2014, 10:39 PM
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She sounds like an awesome but challenging horse! Kinda like mine Good luck with her!
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-24-2014, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman View Post
She sounds like an awesome but challenging horse! Kinda like mine Good luck with her!
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"Challenging" is just another word for stubborn when it comes to my mare.

Thank you!
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-24-2014, 02:34 PM
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I know stubborn... lol
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"I'm a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down." ~ Abraham Lincoln
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-24-2014, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Visited Angel tonight... Not much to say since I didn't take her out of the field. Fed her some carrots/apples, scratched behind her ears and checked her feet. (Making it a habit to pick them up in weird places/at weird times so she's used to it.) I kept trying to take pictures of her, but she always follows when I try to back up to get a nice one. Sigh.

Knees are hurting too bad to do much of anything so I'm happy enough that I got down there at all.

Here's a picture from this evening... Her sire is supposedly Quarter Horse, can you see it in her?
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-26-2014, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Just got back from hanging out with Angel... Dragged my family along as well and they enjoyed feeding her treats and petting her. Not much happened, nothing interesting to talk about.

Here's a couple pictures! Also, I'm including a picture of me doing her back feet because that never would have ever happened when I first bought her.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-26-2014, 07:43 PM
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She's cute (: Blue looks fabulous on her.

Is your family very horsie?

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-26-2014, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zexious View Post
She's cute (: Blue looks fabulous on her.

Is your family very horsie?
I do like the blue on her! It's funny because that halter was originally bought for a mostly white paint. :)

My family can barely tell the front of a horse from the back!
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