Walking in the Clouds - A Training Journal
I'm starting to blog this and I do have hard copies but I might as well start doing it here. Feel free to comment, I enjoy conversations!
I can't promise posts everyday (I am busy as you will see!) but I will try to keep everyone updated as frequently as possible. I'll probably end up compounding days into single posts, etc.
Here are the first 8 wonderful days with Classy. :D
Saturday, September 21, 2012 – Day One
Here is a little background information on this story. I would say my story but it is not only mine – it is one of the development, learning & training of a weanling Quarter Horse filly who I fondly dubbed “Cloud Nine Class”.
When I went to see her she was bay, all legs, just a month old and shy. She remained unhandled by humans – for the most part – but knew they were not to be feared. She lived with the broodmare band of several other mares and their foals. She was the only bay and has a distinctive white star on her forehead. She was born May 9th of 2012 – just a day before my birthday! It was meant to be, at least for the time being, and I bought her for myself, working out a payment schedule that would coincide with the 4 month old mark of when she would be weaned and ready for pickup.
Her dad is a bay roan, long legs and looks to be very leggy – he doesn’t have the classic Quarter Horse ass. Thank goodness Classy’s **** does and is quite a looker. She competed in reining classes and the breeder showed my numerous home videos so I could see for myself.
Well, I woke up excited – though drowsy – and forced myself to get off the nice, warm, comfy couch where I had fallen asleep watching television. I had been too restless to just go to bed without any background noise. Adam had fallen asleep on the lazy boy – his favorite – although it smells awful and I wish I could get rid of it. I was a little disappointed that my parents were not going to be able to make it as my dear old dad had acquired a severe kidney infection (don’t worry! he’s all better now) and thought it best that they stay behind.
Luckily for Adam and myself we had thought ahead – cleaning out the borrowed trailer as requested from the borrower, hooking on and parking it in front of our house. We currently live in town so I was a little nervous some idiot would do something awful to it. Thank goodness nobody did! I woke up Adam at 6:30 as he slept in and told him to get up already! I told him I would try to stay awake and he instantly snapped back that I better or he would fall asleep as well. Talk about a bad case of the morning grouchies ;). I let it roll of my shoulders and we double checked everything was all ready to go and rolled out of town, after a quick pit stop at Tim Horton’s, of course.
It seemed like 3 hours to where we were heading seemed to drag by. Every time we rolled through a town, Adam would roll down his window and shout “GOOOOOD MORNING _____________ (insert town name in the blank)!” I was so embarrassed but it was funny all in all. We met up with a train, we talked a lot (as usual) and we giggled when Adam turned the wrong way out of a particularly tricky town (not!) and made it safely in one place and without too much confusion.
Now – before I go on to the next part I must say that I do not agree with fast weaning, I prefer the slow way to ensure the mental capacity and safety of both the mare and foal. However, it was not possible in this situation and I would appreciate if you kept snide comments to yourselves. Thanks.
When we arrived at the ranch, we saw Classy separated off from the others in a fence. She wasn’t freaking out – in fact she was very calmly munching on the grass that was scattered in the paddock. Mama didn’t seem to care either and I was relieved. Classy was cautious of myself and Adam but loved on the breeder quite a lot. We wandered through the broodmare band with the few remaining babies (their purchaser was supposed to pick them up earlier than I picked up Classy but personal reasons had to force them to wait to pick them up.) Adam fell in love with a little brown guy that’s roaning out (or graying… He is almost a steel grey color already) and wanted to take him home (thank goodness he was sold!).
Don’t get me wrong, it would be great for Adam to have his own horse but he’s only been interested in horses since October 2011 when I introduced him to them and I don’t’ think he realizes how big of a responsibility it is. I’ve been around them my whole life, could ride before I could walk and though I have taken a few years off, I am fully aware of my responsibility. I have raised a foal before so I know what I am doing.
Now, back to Classy.
The breeder loaded our hay net with hay to keep Classy occupied as a possible during her first trailer ride. Adam (the great boyfriend that he is) had unpacked the shavings and had spread them evenly on the floor. We coaxed Classy to the far end of the pen and got the chute door opened. We just coaxed her, gave her a bit of time to figure the situation out and to my delight and surprise she jumped into the trailer with only a slight moment’s hesitation. I gave her lots of face scratches (at least the amount that she would allow). I was soooo delighted. She was clearly curious and that would only work in my favour!
Adam and I opened the windows a crack and hit the road after shaking hands, exchanging final payments and papers (YAY!) and the time seemed to fly by on the way to Classy’s new home. I don’t think I stopped blabbering once and I’m sure Adam wanted to slap me upside the head.
When we arrived to my cousin’s house (that’s where I’m keeping Classy for the price of feed) my parents were there to greet us as well as the my cousin who owns the farm (we’ll call her K). She helped me prepare Classy and get her used to ropes right away. We used a lead rope around her neck (knotted so that she would not choke) and she hopped out of the trailer like a pro. Instantly, as all the new stimuli rushed her at once she was excited – nickering and whinnying to the stud pasture, the mare pasture, the gelding pasture. She was excited!
She danced around, but soon realized that when she pulled, we pulled. And soon, she was figuring out if I moved, she would move with me and there would be no pressure from the halter (once we got it on). She actually had no probably with the halter – which was unexpected. She stood there and let us slip it on, didn’t freak out.
I got her used to her following using pressure and release. She wasn’t very fond of petting at all.
While I was doing the little training I did do with Classy, Adam and K’s bf were unloading the shavings into a bucket. She hadn’t pooped or peed the whole trip and so they managed to save most of them to use in the stalls in the barn. Total thumbs up!
I never wanted to leave, EVER! I probably would have slept there if I could but Adam wanted my help to drop off and unhook the trailer and the dog had been home all day alone with only a couple minutes of being let out by our room mate so he convinced me to turn Classy loose. We also had to go to a crab fest that my uncle was hosting and
I made sure to slip the halter off and on about 4 times to get her used to the sensation, then we left. I couldn’t have been happier but boy, was I exhausted!
Sunday, September 22, 2012 Day Two
Woke up bright and early and ran off to see Classy. She took a while to catch but she wasn’t too bad for hardly being handled. She still had a bit of a problem with leading without stopping – new place, new experiences so I was a little easy on her. I did continually put pressure when she did stop and she eventually got it.
Also figured out today that she likes to nip! She didn’t break the skin but it shocked me nonetheless. Great – another thing I had to work! We worked on starting and stopping. Each time we stopped she would reach out to nip me as if to say “Get going, I’m bored!” and when she reached to bit I would tap her with the end of the leap rope. She quickly got that and thank goodness she did! I hate biters and they are quite dangerous.
I was relieved with the way the session began and extremely happy we ended on a good night.
I spent about an hour out there and then walked her back to the fence. I took her inside and again, put the halter on and off a couple times.
Then – I tried something new. I offered her a treat – and she accepted it wonderfully! She didn’t even graze my palm. I was overjoyed and starting patting her and loving her on her neck/shoulder. (She isn’t too fond of being touched anywhere else except for bum scratches).
Went home and made supper for Adam and a few hours later I got a phone call from J (K’s sister who lives out there) explaining that Classy had gotten out of the fence (thank god they don’t have barbed wire!) but pushing against the wire with her head under the first strand and chest strained against the second and third strands and pushing as hard as she could until she forced the clamps to give out. Apparently, she was quite proud but returned to her original paddock without much trouble after being caught.
I hope she isn’t one of those horses that is wayyyy too smart for her own good and figures everything out. Fingers crossed she doesn’t try that again and hallelujah she wasn’t hurt and that J called me as soon as she was returned safely to her pen. Phew. Thank the Lord for AWESOME family.
Monday, September 23, 2012 Day Three
Went to school, started a new course on Economics. Bleh. Disgustingly boring. Lots of homework, going to have to work my ass off to stay ahead so I have extra time to spend with Classy between the time class ends and I have to go to work.
Poor Adam – he is already missing the cooked lunches I made him everyday and it’s only the first day.
Went out, wanted to start training Classy to walk beside me, in hand instead of behind. I feel safer standing side by side as she’s more in my observational area. To do this, I would cluck (our signal for forward) and pull gently. If she wouldn’t come walk next to me I would take the slack of the lead rope and loop it around her cute little butt and it worked!
She was really getting it! I couldn’t be happier with her – she just seems so smart!
I got her used to following using voice cues (clucking to go and WHOAH to stop beside me) without the lead rope. She was getting pretty okay with it by the end of the session. I like playing with her – tossing the lead rope over her shoulders, around her feet. She wouldn’t even move. She’s either lazy or just very confident!
Left and went to work. Blah. How long do you guys generally spend with weanlings? I like to only spend about 1 hour. In my opinion, they are still young and although trainable are still learning horse behaviors. I spend an hour everday except the odd occasional one – at least so far. Everyone in my life is quite understanding that I have to dedicate this time to her, especially Adam.
He knows how homesick I am and that I have no time to make any “real” friends. Sure, I know a couple girls but I don’t have the sort of time to establish a real friend connection because of conflicting schedules. It was hard not having anything of my own and Adam refuses to come out with me so far. He is friend with K’s boyfriend though, so we will still go out there once in a while for a drink or a couple ;).
Tuesday, September 24, 2012 Day Four
Went out to see Classy again between class and work. She’s a doll – I’m so thankful for K & J that are there all the time. They’ve been really helpful with getting her used to human interaction. It took me less than 5 minutes to catch her!
Worked on the in hand stuff again today and introduced her to being tied (she was only tied a maximum of three minutes). I started moving away and she tried to follow and fussed a little, but nothing too serious. Last training session for tying until I can find someplace that has a higher place to tie and more level ground – I felt a little uneasy in case she did freak out.
When I put her back in the pasture I again repeated our ritual of putting on, taking off the halter. She has never been kept in the pasture with her halter on and I’m a firm believer of ALWAYS taking it off as are K & J. Unless the horse is impossible to catch and has 24 hour a day supervision than it’s highly dangerous. Everyone knows horses always find the silliest things to hurt themselves!
I turned away from her after repeating the ritual to unlatch the gate and leave and she tried to follow me! She gave the softest whicker when I closed the gate and she couldn’t come. I almost burst into tears I was so happy!
She could have just been looking for another treat but… I will continue to think that she didn’t want me to leave because she’s starting to get attached to me.
I have been forgetting to mention – since Day One she is constantly licking her lips at me when stop and make her walk a circle around me and she turns in. It’s crazy that she’s so submissive but she’s so stubborn and smart!
Ohhh, I just love her to bits and pieces.
Wednesday September 25, 2012 Day Five
Went out to see Classy again between class & work. So much fun! K had the barrels set up from her run with one of her geldings from the previous night! Good idea – we walked the barrels a couple time. She was a little disinterested. A little confused like “Woman!? Why we doing so many **** circles!” But she listened well and responded well also.
Thursday September 26, 2012 Day Six
I didn’t make it out. I feel so guilty but I had to sit in Emergency because the back of my throat was bright green! UGH! Darnit. I’m going out to tomorrow for sure. My class will be short as I only have a quiz and can leave. Thank the lord for antiobiotics!
Friday September 27, 2012 Day Seven
Woke up, aced my quiz (I think!) and went to the farm. Classy was very grumpy I showed up before 11 AM and interrupted her eating/sleeping/napping time. I caught her without a hitch which I thought was strange as I hadn’t been out there for a couple days.
We walked around in the arena, she was stubborn and has a little bit of an attitude already! I pushed through it, decided she was probably getting bored and decided we would for a walk around the farm – let her experience more and more stuff could only be good for her, right!?
So, we exited the arena, she was grumpy that she wasn’t getting any treats and kept slowing right down so I would have to loop the slack around her bum to get her to respond and be kept up in hand.
K and her bf (Let’s just call him A) had recently bought trees and planted them along the driveway. Aha! What a fun experience, we practiced weaving through them, down one side and up the other. We toured around by the house, we met the stud and the geldings (with many metres between us).
Saturday September 28, 2012 Day 8
Lonnnggg day. Didn’t make it out to the farm until the evening. Caught Classy – she’s so good at this already. She hardly tries to run away anymore (HARDLY being the operative word). She is getting better with touching – she loves when her face and ears and forelock get rubbed and scratched. She’s not sure about anywhere else and moves away when I try to touch her legs but we’re getting there.
Have been trying to get her to eat foal feed as the vet suggested to supplement her diet. He doesn’t see anything wrong with her bones yet. He says we will watch them for a while – see if her pasterns straighten out.
Dewormed her also – vet suggested to wait a week. She was good about and actually tried to eat the WHOLE tube instead of the amount that she was supposed to. She bit into the tube as I was pulling it out and a bit exploded out and she would not stop licking the tube looking for more. Silly girl!
Adam actually came out with me and he had some fun watching her learning. He was impressed. It may not seem like she has come very far in 8 days but I believe in taking the things slowly, let them adjust.
We K, J & A were nowhere to be found so we hung out a bit, watched our dogs playing and played with Classy. We took our first excursion into the barn with the big doors open and she was a little cautious but when she saw the big pile of hay (winter storage) she was overjoyed and thought she should express it in a matter of loud whinnies and trying to overreach to get to it. I corrected her and then got her the heck out of there. She wanted to go back in so badly!
Oh she’s a sweetheart. I just love her SO much and couldn’t be happier.
Sunday, September 29 2012 Day Nine
I’ve gotten so far behind in the housework I had to skip a Classy day to get caught back up and I’m STILL behind. I didn’t fold any of the laundry or put it away (which Adam hates) but I did clean the kitchen, living room & bathroom & dining room. I was a super nice girlfriend and let Adam sleep in as he had a bit of a late night ( I did too but I woke up feeling really really refreshed!). I woke him up at about 1230 so we could meet his nephew Jackson via Skype. He is SO cute and Adam is the proudest uncle ever.
Can’t wait to go out tomorrow - hopefully she will be a good girl and I can get completely caught up on the housework! Phew.
Now I’m at work – only 1 hour and 45 minutes left! Maybe I’ll fold the laundry tomorrow? Who knows! Write again tomorrow.
Monday, October 01 Day Ten
What a frustrating day! First I slept in and missed school but decided to make the best of it and go out to work with Classy...
She was aggressive which was shocking and she bolted off across the pasture, ears pinned. It's strange... I tried again, to no avail. She wouldn't have it. Instead of frustrating us both more I ended up up and cleaning up the pasture. A wire came off the fence somehow so I picked that up and threw it by the dumpster. Started cleaning up the twine that was left by the previous homeowners. Just a frustrating day overall.
Tuesday October 02, 2012 Day Eleven
Woke up to a call that my classes were cancelled! Yay! Get out of bed, open the blinds... Pouring rain in a torrential downpour. I had been planning to go out to see Classy but my car would never make it across the gravel roads. Frustrating day again!
Can't wait to go out tomorrow... Hopefully this week will start looking up.
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