Working with Prettyface - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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Working with Prettyface

So this will be a journal about my exciting new no-cost leasing project, Prettyface. Don't worry, I will definitely get some photos this weekend :)

She's currently up for sale but has a few things to work on so she'll have a better chance to get a good forever home (if she decides to sell.)

I work with her tomorrow on the lunge. We'll see how it goes, as the owner hasn't lunged her before and we have no idea if the previous owner ever did.

Here is some info about her from another one of my threads:


I have taken on another project horse who I am working with for free, but do not own: An unraced 12 year old thoroughbred mare. We'll call her Prettyface since I love her broad intelligent face.

Prettyface is 15.1, brown thoroughbred mare. Lacks much of a topline, extremely stiff neck muscles which I suspect are in spasm. She's been out of work for a month, inconsistent rhythm at the walk and trot, sensitive in the mouth from previous hard handling, spooks a little bit but not much. A little bit mareish as expected.

I have permission from the owner to work with Prettyface on her groundwork, on her lunging, and play around with a different bit (hooray!!!). I plan on starting her completely over with learning to yield from pressure, then light touch, then motion and vocal cue. Walking she's fine at, transitioning to trot she gets tense and throws her head up and gapes her mouth even with no pressure. She likes to do her own thing. Leans when she turns. Does not respond well to seat or leg aids.. will be a work on progress.

I'm so excited :) I only met her yesterday and she is about 30 minutes tops away from me.

The downside is no indoor or light area so when it gets dark.. I'll have to be creative. May need to buy a few electric torches to illuminate the arena at night.

So here's to working with Prettyface. Testing my riding skills, my teaching skills, and my horse knowledge. Oh and I've ordered a solar powered portable floodlight :) It should get here in about 2 weeks

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 04:19 PM
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Subbing :)
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 09:41 PM
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Aaaah can't wait to see some pics of her!
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-01-2013, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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So I worked with her last night! It started out sunny but quickly turned dark.. hence the lack of photos..


Prettyface was amazing!!

We worked on disengaging her hind quarters just being on the leadrope and at first she was so stroppy but then I showed her it was no big deal and pretty soon she was paying attention and doing it when asked. We worked on yielding to pressure on her head, her body, and her legs. Again, started out stroppy but soon was doing it no big deal. I made sure to praise her, but not overly. If she made an ugly face I growled at her and when her ears came forward I massaged her neck.

I tied a plastic bag to the whip thinking that she'd move away from the rustling....she was a statue. She would not move but she was weary of the bag so I rubbed it on her and took it away if she relaxed. By the end she was fine, even around her face. Took the bag off, clipped the lungeline on, and again.. a statue. I had to tap her hiney a few times and then after awhile she responded to my clucking and my "energy" (like instead of being chill or relaxed, I was excited and almost hyper) and she'd transition up and down. I only worked on walk and trot with her because I want her to stretch out and find the rhythm. When I'm happy with her trot in time, we'll work on canter. She looked lovely stretching out. Her walk got more energetic afterward. She was very responsive in a polite way.

Mid lunge some other riders came back with their horses and fed them. Absolutely no ugly faces or aggression from Prettyface at all. She stood there. She was dancing a little bit that's because this Shetland Pony scooted under the fencing and was running around being a nutter. Absolutely cute little shetland pony.. but a nutter :P I gave Prettyface her dinner, he's known for being extremely food aggressive. She didn't pin her ears or rush me. She stood there without issue and I layed it down infront of her. She happily ate and I worked on massaging her neck muscles. It's going to take a long while for them to relax.. which in time will help with her head tossing issues.

Then did "carrot stretches" and she was so good about those. A bit tight when I asked her for the head between legs stretch so we didn't get all the way down. She's a bit tight on her neck bend stretches too.. She was VERY sassy about the belly tucks.. but in time she stopped dancing around. At the end of the night We re-visited the head-down exercise and she got it no problem :)

I'm over the moon ecstatic with her. Hopefully I can come out again before Saturday :) Maybe on Friday..

I stupidly forgot to measure her mouth.. so will try doing that when I pop out next. Also I ordered her some fuzzy reins :)

And for some pics!!

This is her turnout

And it just kept on going...

And going...


And going and going..


And here is our area that we worked in until I get "the keys" to use the designated riding areas..

Notice that orange fence area to the right? The shetland squeezed under that. Little bugger... then he found my carrots and was eating them so I threw on at his hiney lol.

And here is Prettyface :)

Really blurry...

And she has two brands but I only took pictures of one.

I'm so happy to be working with her. I felt so elated after our groundwork and lunging session. She was even being "sent" without me having to smack the ground at the end of it. So proud of how smart she is!
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"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 05-01-2013 at 05:36 PM.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-05-2013, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Missouri
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I worked with her this past Saturday :)

She has gotten so much better with groundwork.

She learned to back up via pressure and motion (still not perfect but she is improving) good with carrot stretches.. still cannot get her back muscles to move or lift when I prompt her to do a bellylift. I'm worried that something may be off that's preventing that from happening.

When I get the ability to use the other facilities I'm going to lunge her in a bigger area and let her canter and see what that does.

She was better with her feet and yielding to pressure. I measured her mouth and she couldn't care less.. she just sat there munching on grass, I whistled, she put her head up, string went in.. three times to be sure, and when I was done she resumed eating. She measured 4" so I'm getting her a 4.75" as the bit itself is a bit curved. We'll see how she likes it.. it should be here in June due to being out of stock now.

Also her owner doesn't protect her legs and has a dinky little hoofpick so I've ordered a junior size "Ultimate Hoofpick" and some pink Woof brushing boots :) I'll call it my functional present to her.

Also worked on her halt transition on the lungeline and on lead. After many attempts it did get better.. but she knows she's being a bad pony. She gives you that "make me" look. Shaking the rope makes her go faster, which is weird... same with blocking her shoulder so I usually spiral her in. We'll figure it out, haha.

But she's being "sent" on the lunge and leadrope with almost no reinforcement with me smacking the ground with the whip (since we don't have a proper lunge whip.)

I'm not ready at all to try liberty with her as I don't want her to charge at me, etc. plus we're still working each other out. I've only worked with her 4 times so not nearly enough.

I've ordered her some fuzzy reins though to clip to her halter. I plan on lunging her on the ground and then hopping on and working with her in halter and leadrope. I haven't decided if I am going to lunge her with tack or without. Probably without and then I'd pop her tack on and ride her.

What do ya'll think?

Here are some photos of her from all angles:

This side is okay

But this side is really sunken in

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

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 05-05-2013 at 04:34 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-05-2013, 04:43 PM
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I love her paddock and how you can see the ocean (I assume that's the ocean!) from it!! SO AWESOME.

I personally lunge with tack very rarely so I'd probably lunge without, and like you're saying, pop some tack on to ride after.
For me, I use lunging as sort of a warm-up/"Lacey, how are you feeling today?"/"get your mind in the game" thing so I want Lacey to be warming up and getting her mind in sync with mine. I don't care really what she's doing (as long as she's being responsive and not plodding along - she must be forward on the line) with her body, as long as she stays engaged with me.

BUT, if you're lunging with the intent of of getting Miss Face working through her body or if you're going for more of a "you are going to be ridden, fyi, prepare yourself"-type thing, I might lunge with tack.

Just my thoughts. :)

FWIW, I rarely use leg protection. I tried it last summer but SMBs got too hot on the inside for the riding I do. I do have split boots and I use them on trail rides but that's about it.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-05-2013, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Yep! That's the ocean :) And that island is the "South Island" in the distance. It's gorgeous! Beach around the corner but she's terrified of those large kites.. so we'll have to have a beach play day down there sometime.

Thanks for the ideas :)

Yeah she doesn't know how to use her body. Her back does not swing freely.. so it's more of a warm up, get your rhythm without trying to balance me... and then we'll take you for a spin, type deal.

Mhm she's just kind of trippy... idk if it's the trim or just the whole lack of rhythm lack of suspension thing... but I don't want her to kick herself.

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

Last edited by Lockwood; 05-05-2013 at 09:50 PM.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-05-2013, 09:14 PM
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Be careful, she'll steal your heart....

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-05-2013, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gunslinger View Post
Be careful, she'll steal your heart....
She can't take what isn't there! Sky has it back in Maryland...

But she really is lovely. I'm hoping to reignite the relationship of this mare and her owner.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-08-2013, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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May 9th

Well she is certainly becoming a lot more attentive on the ground. Still a bit of a goof with halting but it has improved.

She allows me to scratch and rub her anywhere, so long as I'm nice about it. She still won't lift her back when prompted so I'm trying a different method. Hopefully she won't kick...

She did try to bite me when I prompted her to yield her haunches over. She swiftly got an elbow to the face and a growl and she didn't try again.

She's VERY food motivated. She hunts for carrots and finds it hard to focus so I may see about teaching her to focus by doing a sending exercise when she doesn't.

She reverts to backing up when she's not sure.. which isn't good. I'm trying to teach her to pay more attention to her handler as well because she doesn't stop or slow down if I get infront of her shoulder (block her movement) she just blindly continues on. Not safe!!!

I lunged her out in the rolling pastures. She tripped a lot.. and she was very good about walk and trot but would not canter so either she is just that out of shape with it or she was concerned with the footing. I'm guessing the latter mixed with a bit of the former.

Still no word on whether or not I can work in the club facilities.. grrrr. It's like I'm asking to marry a cow or something...

She halts on lead nicely, backs up nicely.. she is a little sluggish when lead but she's respectful about it which is nice.

I definitely see improvement in handling but I cannot comment on any under saddle work as of yet.

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