Lucky's story and journal
I've just come across this section of the forum and I think it's a great idea to write a journal (or something like that) about my horse :)
Well, I'll start with her story right from the beginning and then post updates on how/what we're doing every now and then.
So, here you go:
Lucky was born in March 2004 (we don't know the exact date so I decided to use March 28th as her birthdate in memory of my grandfather). She had to spend the first 2 years of her life in a tiny box that hardly ever got cleaned out and without hardly any contact to other horses.
That's when her former (let's call her C.) owner found her. They soon found a price that was suitable and the lady who sold her told C that she can also register Lucky and send the documents to C as soon as she got them. She even gave C her phone number, so she could call her.
Well, as no documents arrived after some time, C tried to call the lady but the phone number turned out to be fake and the lady just vanished.
So, it could be that Lucky is registered as Quater-Arab cross somewhere, but we have not really got a chance to find out. ...
At the age of 3, C started to train Lucky with the help of a western trainer which was not really worth the money. So soon she decided to go on training Lucky herself. She mostly lunged her and used her for trail riding, as they do not really have the facilities and place to do much else.
When I was looking for a horse, I actually was looking for a little advanced dressage horse from which I could learn (and also important: it should not be too tall - 14hh was a good size, I thought). Well, what i found was a more or less green broke 4 year old mare, 15hh (now 15,3hh) which only knew the rider on her back and how to walk/trot/canter on a straight path. Nothing else. I've never regret this decision a second.
When I first saw a picture of her, I knew this would be the right horse for me and it turned out to be true. When I first rode her, it felt like "home". Just like I always belonged there (never had this feeling before when ridin a new horse).
I also was really surprised by her character: she was really calm, but forward going and could run really fast if you asked her to do so but would calm down again in an instant. She is curious like no other horse I've ever met and never spooks on anything. As I found out later, she also really loves to learn new things and always wants to give the best for her rider.
On June 11th 2008, I finally took Lucky home.
I gave her some days to adjust to the new home and herd and then started lunging her to build up her muscels and to improve her fitness.
After about a month I started to lunge her a bit and then ride her a bit, to get her slowly used to the "work" we were about to do, slowly progessing to riding only.
We worked a lot on walking and trotting for quite some time before I first tried to canter her in the arena. Remember: she only knew how to walk, tort and esp. canter on a straight path!
As she was used to voice commands only for cantering, I tried the voice command first. Which only got her running fast at a trot. So, I tried to use the normal cues instead and with this and a light touch of the whip I got her to canter. And was immediately surprised by her taking off at full speed as soon as we reached the long side of the arena.
Even though she never had a problem cantering on the lunge line or on our trail rides every now and then, she obviously had not yet enough balance to canter with a rider in the arena (where there are corners that we have to canter through and me wanting to ride circles and all those things instead of a long straight path). So we went back to lunge work as far as cantering is concerned.
Just before winter forced us to pause (we only have an outside arena), we managed to canter on the left lead at a calm and steady pace :) ... right lead was still a problem.
During winter we only went trail riding every now and then when the weather would let us. As there are hardly any stones around in our area we tried to let her walk without shoes as she's got quite a good hoof material (she was shoed at the front legs when I got here, 'cause she was quite sensitive when going on gravel paths and there was nothing else where she came from), but that was not a good idea. Even on the few stones out there she reacted quite sensitive, started to trip and bucked a friend off twice (she never did that with me though, so I'm not 100% sure it was just the missing shoes). We had our farrier and vet check her out, but there were no medical problems and at home she was just fine without shoes, as there are no stones at all.
So in spring she got shoes on her front legs again - and is our nice little girl again :)
That's when we started our training again with some lunge work and after some weeks started on the riding work again.
Until now we can walk and trot relaxed at a good pace and nicely forward downward (don't really know what it's called in english...) having her head at a level position. She canters nicely on the left lead, here we're working on her endurance, as she'll only canter about 2 circles and then fall back to trot again but she's steadily improving.
About 2 weeks ago we managed for the first time to canter on the right lead in a calm and steady pace ... no more running :) But cantering on this lead is still something we have to work on hard as it's not her favorite lead.
Well, that's our story so far. Btw, we managed all this without the help of a trainer, and I'm convinced we could go on like this for some more time ourselves. But I think that training with a professional trainer will even take her much further, Lucky will go to a barn nearby in aug/sep where she gets trained by a really good trainer and afterwards I'll be taking some lessons with her so that I know what she knows :)
Ok, sorry for writing a novel, but it's a long story :)
Feel free to comment on anything you like!
Ok, wow, it's been a looooooooooong time since I opened this diary ... and never updated it :( (shame on me). I don't really know why either...
So here we go, I'll just start where I left off:
Lucky went to that trainer in August 2009. She should have stayed there for 2 months and first everything was fine. The trainer started lunging her and she did really well. But after 2 weeks when she started riding her the problems started. My formerly so nice and well-behaving girl would start to bolt, buck and rear under the trainer!!
Well, one reason for this may have been that the saddle didn't fit quite correctly (which we found out when having her checked by a saddler after she started misbehaving). But another reason sure was that those two simply didn't get along. This trainer, as good as she is (trained my fiancees mare and they got along well enough with each other), is a pretty "stubborn" person. Everything has to work the way she wants it, without room for any compromise. But Lucky simply isn't that kind of horse. She doesn't just "work". She's a horse you need to discuss things with sometimes until you find a way in the middle, that's ok for both of you. From there you can start working towards your goal ;) ... But the trainer wouldn't see that and keep on pushing her even after she showed clearly that the things she demanded were NOT ok for her at the moment (no matter what the reason... be it the saddle (and I really think, that's the main reason she started to disobey) or be it simply that she didn't want to do something).
Well, long story short. We quit the training after 1 month (2 weeks lungeing and 2 weeks riding ... more or less).
Back home I had a horse that had really improved in lunging (at least something positive to take out of this) but that, if anything, dis-improved in riding.
Of course we got a new saddle after this episode (finding the perfect one, was a little odyssey itself *sigh*) and started training at home again.
I also found a chiropractor to look her over after that and who gave us riding lessons from time to time (not very often as she's from Germany and only coming to Austria a couple times a year).
Well, the past 4 years it's been ups and downs. Sometimes we would improve, sometimes we would go back a pace or two. Especially cantering is a problem for us ... or at least for me ... right now.
There was an incident about a year ago, when we had one of our rare lessons with the german trainer/chiropractor. All went well until she asked us to canter. Lucky just didn't want to. First she started running at a trot. Here I would usually make her walk and calm down before trying again, but the trainer insisted she cantered. Now. ... NOT a good idea, and I know I should have known better but at that moment I didn't think about it and kept on trying to get her to canter. ... Well, what shall I say? She bucked me off (I've never been good on staying on a bucking horse, anyway) and I fell on my back so that I had the wind knocked out of me. I needed a couple minutes to recover during which my fiancee got a hold of Lucky and rode her a couple rounds. ... I got on myself again after I had my breath back, just to make sure she wouldn't learn that she could end work like that by herself.
Well, she hasn't bucked a single time under me ever since ... but I haven't dared to try a canter again either. I somehow can't get myself to do it even though every time I get off her I wish I had tried and even when riding her I'm thinking about it... and always find excuses NOT to do it ... I know they're just excuses and that I should trust her and myself and just get over it and do it. But somehow I can't.
Well so much for riding... that's where we're at right now.
As for ground work:
right after she got back from the training stable she was the best horse ever to lunge! She would react to voice commands alone. No whip needed. Not even as "decoration" in my hand or on the ground. But sometime in winter she would start pulling outside on the lunge and sometimes bolt.
We worked with the german trainer on that as well, even got a Cavecon (which she recommended) for lunging and every time the trainer was here the pulling out seemed to improve and she wouldn't bolt. But it wouldn't last long. ... As soon as I tried to lunge her alone she would fall back into her old behavior and start pulling out again.
As for the bolting, I guess at some point she must have realized that I simply wasn't strong enough to hold her if she really put all her weight and strength into it, so every time she felt like running free she just took off.
I had a friend lunging her for some time then and she tried it with him, too, but soon had to realize that HE would hold her. So when she behaved lunging with him, I would try right afterwards and most times she would behave with me, too.
But she still pulled to the outside, no matter who lunged her.
So, of course I was totally (positively) surprised, when, for the first time in a long time, I lunged her myself from the beginning a couple weeks ago and she would neither pull on the lunge nor bolt (not even a hint of either!)!
I only worked her for 15 minutes or so, but I was soooo happy with my girl!! :)
Maybe I should take this as a sign to start cantering again, too?
As for her overall behavior or character. Well of course she has changed a bit there too in the past 4 years.
She's still the nice, curious, funny, playful horse I got 5 years ago, but she also got more ... how to put it? ... cautious? I guess she picked that behavior up from my fiancee's mare, who would spook at any- and everything if she felt like it (not that she's really afraid of things, but sometimes she just likes to find an excuse to be spooked, jump around, etc). Well Lucky still doesn't get spooked as easily as the other mare but if you compare what she ignored or investigated curiously at age 4 and what she eyes with suspicion now ... well ... she used to be a lot "cooler" a couple years ago!
Ok, that's it for now. 4 years put in a not so short post on a forum ;)
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