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Discussion Starter #1
I should of started this back in October when I bought him, but better late then never! Figured it would be fun to keep track of our progress.

I've ridden trotter horses my whole life, my last horse was a QH and we were taking dressage lessons. Last winter was so nasty out that our lessons got put on hold so I decided to test my luck with trail riding by ourselves. After some fights he became a pretty dependable trail mount and I found I loved riding out in the open SO much more then in the ring. So I quit lessons and just started trail riding.

In the two years I had my QH I struggled fighting his Lyme disease, he was chronic...and then last summer was reinfected so he was acute and chronic. It affected him badly and made him very unpredictable and dangerous. I finally made the decision to retire him and start horse shopping...

NOW the question was...what did I want?! My DH doesn't know anything about horses but somewhere heard about gaited horses and watched some videos and just thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread. I didn't know how I felt about switching, it just isn't what I'm used to! After a lot of reading I decided to test ride some and I instantly was in love. For the most part, the ones I test rode had such a level head, was smooth to ride, and could go a slower pace (which I was more comfortable at for the time being after some bad accidents with my QH) or pick up the pace for fun! I actually stopped being invited to group trail rides because my QH was so slow. He would be the best behaved horse on the ride, but no one liked waiting for us lol!

The first horse I test rode was Datsun (now Jax), he was a wiggle worm for mounting but took my corrections well and then stood still for me. I got to ride him up in down the road a few times and then the seller hopped on the other horse I was going to test ride and we went for a quick loop trail ride. I was in love. He was a leader, sure footed, not scared with two pitbulls came charging at him and when he broke into a canter from his running walk I had the biggest smile on my face ever. He got fast, but it was still fun. I didn't even want to test ride Captain! But DH was in love with Captain and insisted and I agreed it would be good for me to ride multiple TWH before deciding on one. There were just no sparks for me with Captain. I told the owner I was very interested but did have a few other horses to try and wanted to make an educated decision and not rush into anything.

Next horse I tried was a mountain pleasure horse...or something like that...Tony...or Fat Tony. Very sweet, very well trained horse, but his parents had let him GO. He was probably a good 150lbs over weight and with my schedule and winter coming I was a little worried about having the time to get the weight off. I was also very concerned about him being IR by the way he looked. His parents offered me an amazing deal and he was exactly what I wanted so I decided to do a PPE on him instead of Datsun. In my PPE I insisted on bloodwork though, I did not want to end up with another horse with chronic issues! Waited a week for bloodwork to come back, and as I feared it did came back above normal range, so I had to pass. His parents were NOT happy and tried to talk me out of it but I just couldn't set myself up for possible health issues like that.

I contacted Datsun's mom and luckily he was still available! So I made arrangements to come out one more time to ride him again and have a PPE done and if it all went well I'd bring him home!

In the meantime I saw an add on craigslist for what looked like a nice TWH not too far away, so I figured why not go try him. That was a waste of 5 hours of my life. Ad was a complete lie, people were complete jerks. Horse was way too forward for me, when I took my feet out of stirrups to see what he would do if I wiggled around some he REARed up on me! He was advertised as a beginner safe slow calm horse. PASS. The jerk of a dad was trying to tell me I'll never find a slower TWH or a calmer one...I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

The day came finally to go for Datsun, I was so excited it was finally here! On my way to get him, I stopped at a few feed stores to restock my grain supply, then stopped at a saddlery to pick up a tucker saddle that would fit him (what owners used) because my custom made allegany mountain trail saddle would NEVER fit him I knew.

Vet check went well, I got a pretty simple check, he was only 5 and nothing really popped out at me in concern. I did have a snap test done just to make sure at the time of purchase I wasn't buying another horse with lyme. Then it was ride time, again he was great! I was sure he was the horse for me. So money was exchanged and in my trailer he went!

October 20th, the day after I got married, is the day I brought home my new 5 year old 15h TWH Datsun, now renamed Jax.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Once Jax was home, it was quite an adventure getting him into the herd. My BO horse would NOT accept him into the herd as long as my QH was around. Jax and Dexter got along beautifully, but Gunner could not be out with them. Dexter could be out with either Gunner or Jax. Jax doesnt do well alone though so they stayed together.

Well then my hours were going to get cut at work, I could no longer comfortably afford to keep both horses, so I made the decision to rehome Dexter. I found him a great home as a companion horse and off he went The week before Thanksgiving.

We kept Jax and Gunner separated for a few days, right next to eachother, but a fence between them. Gunner started to seem to be getting really attached to Jax, but Jax still didn't trust him...I mean after being ran through a stall, completely bit up, forced away from his friend...why would he trust Gunner?

I finally made the decision to put them out together, but stayed close to watch. Jax would not leave my side, Gunner was very patient and understanding and gave Jax his space...I was amazed. Once Dexter was gone GUnner was a whole new horse towards Jax.

As of today, they are buds now. Gunner whinnies for Jax, waits for him by the gate. Jax likes GUnner but not to that extent. So success! The two of them are friends!
 

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We've had a lot of ups and downs, figured I'd make a little post about each one and what we've done to get over it!

Our first big issue, trailer loading. When I bought him he would walk on perfectly fine, no issue what so ever. I have a very nice brand new slant load featherlite. No rear tack so its a very open and welcoming trailer. Well one day I took him to a near by park that I've never ridden at, after a terrible ride (trails were terrible and he was just a firecracker) I tried to load him up to go home.

He said NOT HAPPENING. After an hour of struggling, two men came over and were able to basically help me manhandle him in. He was completely disrespectful of whips and pressure towards his rear end, I tried ever trick I could think of to get him in, nothing worked.

After this happened on two more occasions, I decided it was time for real help. What's funny is the 3rd time it happened was when I was trying to load him up to take him to a lesson with my friends trainer at her house!! After an hour of fighting, I finally got him on and made it to the lesson.

Now this trainer is a Parelli trainer, I never really followed their method or thought too much of it. I usually followed Clinton Anderson method after having so much success with it with my QH. Jax is so new to me and I don't have a ring/round pen or permission to work him in the field I just havn't been able to really work on his ground work.

Well the trainer pointed out I'm just not his leader, and hes throwing baby temper tantrums, I just need to work through the tantrum.

We went over some ground work exercises, all exercises I've started teaching him but have not perfected yet. She went over my technique some which was very helpful so I was able to communicate with him more clearly.

At the end it was time to load him up. I stood outside the trailer on the corner, and asked him to send in. He would go up to it but not in, so I started adding pressure and he started fighting. I was to never move my hand away from the inside of the trailer, I always needed to keep his head pointed in the trailer. I tapped his neck, side and butt asking him to more forward, gradually getting stronger with my pressure...well he was kicking out, bucking, tossing his head, side stepping...I held my ground and kept his head pointed forward. After what seemed like forever but was about 10 minutes he finally hopped on. I had won. Since then We've had maybe 2 or 3 other quick fights and I had to remind him I'm in charge and you ARE getting in there but for the most part I can just point in and he loads on now :)

So trailer loading is now success :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Our next big step in training is standing still to be mounted.

I've tried backing him across the driveway when he moves, spinning him in circles, treats...backing..lol everything.

Well I've finally found something that works.

I'm now teaching him to come to me at the mounting block. I've done a lot of work getting him comfortable with my dressage whip, and now I stand at my mounting block and ask him to "line up" to me. I use my whip tp tell him which body part he needs to move to me. We aren't perfect with it yet and it sometimes takes a few tries but its working and going very well!

Next step...standing still for a minute once I'm on!
 

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I guess I could talk more about the riding, but I don't want to talk about every past ride we've done so far so I'll post more about our riding as it happens!
By the end of 2014 I got about 58 miles on him from last week of Oct till end of Dec. So not a bad start.

In 2015 we've only got about 15 miles in so far, I've been slacking because we left town for a week for a cruise and the weathers just been terrible. I dont mind riding in cold or snow, but I don't do freezing rain and ice lol.

Riding has definitely been a learning experience. I'm learning how to cue for his different gears, how to bring him back down when he gets pacey/trotty and just how to keep him in a gait. He's like a washing machine up hills sometimes, so I've been trying to figure out how to ride that and smooth it out, I usually just grab mane and hope for the best though!

He LOVES to lead on rides. Hes very confident which I love, I do wish I could put him in different positions easier though. He is usually just too quick to ride in the middle since we don't ride with any other gaited horses. Everyone so far is loving him on rides we go on and we get complimented for setting such a nice pace on rides.

I've fallen in love with his smooth gaits, I'm so glad I made the decision to get a gaited horse! All we do is trail ride and hes so sure footed and comfortable! It is just sometimes hard when we ride with friends they have to trot a bit to keep up sometimes but we do most of our riding alone.

I'm riding him in a loose ring myler snaffle bit, everyone around here said oh no you can't do that! But its going well. I tried using a combo snaffle bit for a few weeks after reading the great reviews to see if it just gave me a little bit better breaks and helped his gait...he made it loud and clear he did not like it though. He got worse and worse every ride, so I switched the bit back and have my happy pony back!

Things to work on in 2015:
Keeping in gait/speed
Slowing down his canter to his lovely slow canter thats so comfy to ride. He just gets excited sometimes and gets a little too fast for comfort for me on open trails
Perfect his one rein stop
Perfect his ground work
Progress further into CA method and do more exercises
Ride in more parks!

If anyone actually reads all this good for you! If I'm just typing all this for myself then thats fine :) I'll post tons of pics and videos once I'm on my computer and not my ipad!
 

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I'm enjoying reading about your progress! It sounds like you and Jax are really doing great together. I am currently doing a lot of problem solving work with my horse, and I enjoy reading about your journey partly because of the way it is similar to ours.
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Ooh, pictures! We cross-posted. I like the video of the trailer work. I wouldn't have guessed he ever had a problem with it.
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Discussion Starter #9
Ohh thanks! The trailer loading was definitely a big thing to overcome. I still have trouble getting him to walk on it with me though and now when I send him on he turns around SO fast! I need to figure out a good way to send him on and keep him facing forward...maybe putting a delicious treat there or something.

Got off early but was so tired from my weekend at the in laws (6 hours away) and from checking out a house to buy I didn't trailer out. I just rode over to the neighborhood behind the barn and strolled around the hood lol!


He was a good boy :) Our "lining up" at the mounting block is coming along so well! Only had to ask ONCE today! On the way home I tried to practice our one rein stop more. I'm getting him to disengage well and stop finally with it but I have trouble KEEPING him stopped. Second I release pressure he's like I'M FREEEE and starts going again. Towards the end I was getting him to be more patient though...just need lots and lots of practice!

What kind of horse do you have Cat?
 

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do you have him ride backward in the trailer? do you put up the divider or leave it open?

and how were you trying to load him before? you said CA methods, but I don'tknow what that means, as far as how you do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I do tie him in the front with his hay bag, I sometimes leave divider open, sometimes don't. I think he rides better with it closed sometimes. The one time I've let him trailer loose he cut himself above his eye! I've been scared to do that again. I haven't really decided how I like to trailer him most yet, with the divider closed I feel like he can balance a little better since he can lean on it if he wants to, but then when I leave it open he has more room?

When I first got him, he would just walk right on with me, then after a few times he started testing me so now I send him on to the trailer. I got him to walk on with me last time after I let him test me for a min then he gave in and walked on with me. Hes 5 and still new to me so sometimes still likes to try and see what he can get away with, but usually only tries once or twice now.
 

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I'm glad he's working out so well for you (I remember when you were buying him, I think I was as excited as you!).

I LOVE gaited horses!
 

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I'm glad he's working out so well for you (I remember when you were buying him, I think I was as excited as you!).

I LOVE gaited horses!
Ohh I know! It was fun shopping, well kinda...it had its ups and downs. Sometimes I feel a little in over my head since I'm so new to gaited but I just take a step back, breathe and start over :) Its so fun how smooth and fast he can be while everyone else has to post their horses trots.

We trailered over to the ring/trails yesterday to meet up with my friend. Had fun working on one rein stops in the ring, and then I took her on the trails. Our horses are so goofy together, hers constantly tries to rub his face on Jax's butt...if Jax gets anywhere NEAR Cado's butt though he threatens to kick!

After riding we decided to let them loose in the ring to play...we've never let them play before but they're best buds and thought they'd have a blast...

Talk about anticlimactic...We let them loose and they stood there looking at us...then slowly walked over to fence to try and get to the grass on the other side of it. We shooed them off and they ran to other end and bucked and played a little, then went back to trying to get the grass lol.

Silly horses.

On nights I feed I'll sometimes make some warm alfalfa cube mash for Jax (and split some with my BO horse Gunner). They get so happy when they see me coming with it, they don't raise their head from the food bowl for the entire time they eat dinner lol!
 

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I have an Arabian named Talana. She'll be thirty in May, and was trained in a somewhat haphazard way with several multi-year breaks, so although I've known her my whole life and she and I have a good basic understanding with each other, I am now teaching her things she never had a chance to learn before. Like... don't wiggle around while at the mounting block! And, Why yes, I do expect you to stand still sometimes when I am on your back, and this is an OK thing! Lucky for me, she's and old pro with the trailer, though.
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Oh Talana is a beautiful name! I've only ridden a few arabians before, I never really clicked with them. Thats amazing that shes going to be 30, I hope you guys still have many years ahead of you :) I have to say, teaching Jax "Line up" has been the best thing I've taught him so far I think. He knows what I want, I stay calm until I get it, he gets a treat and I get on a perfectly lined up standing still horse.

We had a snowwwwww day today! Got 6" over night so I got to ride Jax in REAL snow for the first time! It was such a nice soft powdery snow, but was a little slick on hills. I HAD A BLAST!!!! He was a little goofball spooking here and there but I think all the white messes with their sight a little. Jax was funny though at one point..he was moving SO SLOW, I think he transformed into a turtle!! But then I got him to gait a little and he got into the ride again :)

The driveway


untouched :)




cutie boy <3 him


BO joined me, her first time riding with Jax and I :)


we're adorable and poofy


Every ride I feel my confidence finally growing, its a great feeling.
 

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Beautiful photos! Alas, here in Maine we now have waaay too much snow for riding. Everywhere I could ride is either slick with ice, or snow the height of Talana's knees or belly. She's not so thrilled. We await spring with great anticipation! One of our very first projects is going to be a serious effort to teach her to stand still for mounting. She's almost there, but I don't think anyone has really insisted that she has to hold still if she wants her cookie before.

That's funny that you never clicked with the Arabians you met. I've grown up around them almost exclusively; to me they are "the normal kind of horse." My Talana is curious, clever, willing, occasionally sassy, and just the right size for a tiny person like me to ride. My understanding is that Arabians are like border collies in that they can be the best partner in the world if you channel their considerable ability to focus, or they can be any thing from unimpressive to frightening if you aren't engaging their interest... of course, all this can perfectly well apply to any horse! But I do love my Arabian and her kin with all my heart. :)
 

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So I've failed at updating this, a lot has changed!

In September, I moved from DC to Ohio! We moved to get out of the city and be closer to my husbands family...but not too close that they're annoying ;) I left my families business and took a pretty big paycut because I'm only working part time now, but I'm loving it! My husband got a raise and is now working from home full time so it all works out.

Jax handled the move like a champ! He shared my horse trailer with my 4wheeler and didn't mind one bit. He just munched away at his hay the whole 8 hour ride!


Before moving I checked quite a few things off my bucket list with Jax, Love this little guy so much! We rode in the mountains, to a local winery anddd went swimming at a big park!




We moved out of my 3 bedroom condo that I bought when I was 22 to a 14 acre farm :)




The house had a 12 stall dog kennel and a 2 stall barn already and was in a location that gets high speed cable internet...so we couldn't pass it up! It was in pretty bad shape and was built in the early 60's but we're slowly getting it all fixed up.





So now Jax is in my back yard and I'm loving every minute of it! Rather then buying a 2nd horse that I wouldn't have time to ride, I found a boarder. This is Commander and Jax :)

I don't really like my boarder or her horse but it helps pay the bills! They're slowly getting better though.

I adopted to barn kitties, Ashe and Tryndamere :)

Ashe


Tryndamere
 

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Dandylion has undergone a few color changes too! Both dogs, Raynor and Dandylion are LOVING their new home. They have a nice big back yard and a doggy door :)






She was pink with black booties before the reindeer but didn't upload that pic!

My kennel renovations are going really well. Turned the 12 stall mess into an 8 stall with giant room for grooming area!




Also to help with mud I made a gravel lot for feeding hay on.


I've been getting inventive with my hay feeder too to try and keep hay from molding since its been so wet!


Jax and Commander get along pretty well. Jax is a huge sissy so it doesn't take much to boss him around. Luckily Commander isn't too aggressive with him, pretty sure if Jax wasn't so passive he'd be getting beat up though.
 

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Now on to riding hereeee!

Its been quite the experience. Jax and I are cantering and gaiting a lot more now! Before moving a friend of a friend gave me some tips, I have a dressage background but wasn't using that when riding Jax because of what other people told me....She told me to use it and he started moving so much better! I also think I finally found a bit he likes too, and its not a huge shanked walker bit either :)

We've done two BIG rides, one had about 30 people, and Jax was a champ through that, we stayed towards the front. The other one was TERRIBLE though. I was trying to stay back with my friend and Jax just wanted to gogogooooooo and then it didn't help when people ahead of us were just taking off.

Some of my new views I get to see :)







We've gone through big scary dark tunnels now!!! Jax lead the way through when my friends older QH's were scared.








We actually rode through the drive through of the mcdonalds next to this gas staiton LOL! Jax tried to put his head through the window to pay...


He LOVES the bran mash I'm making and selling now too....can we say spoiled?


OH and for Halloween I got to do this to my bosses dog
 

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Pics of my new barn that I've got alllll cleaned up and just about perfect now :)

This is the giant mess the old owner left me with






About 5 or 6 truck loads later...a lot of sweeping...and a lot of hanging stuff up and moving stuff around I had this :)






This has improved...yesterday I finally mounted the small gate to the side and bought a 2nd larger gate and mounted to other side. So the divider to the back is now two gates locked together.


Pretty proud of myself though, I've been doing pretty much everything myself. My husbands so busy with work and not really a hands on kind of guy. Glad I'm only working part time so I CAN have time to do it! I haven't been riding as much as I'd like to though.

I finished off 2015 with about 430 miles :( Which is pretty great considering all the changes I made in life in 2015. Hoping for things to slow down around here soon and the rain to stop so I can start getting in some rides for 2016!

I just have ONE room left to paint in the house, then need to touch up one of the bathrooms...Do some caulking in my kennel and get it painted....annddddd a few other little things. I officially became an LLC just the other day, so I'll be legally running my shop from home. My boss wasn't too happy when she found out about it but I told her I'd like to continue working for her part time as long as she'll allow me to.

Its definitely weird working for someone else, especially someone with less experience then me. I've been with her for about 8 weeks and got my first complaint yesterday :( It was a little mini schnauzer and I did the typical schnauzer trim on it...well my boss is kinda self taught so her trims are a little different then mine and the owner is used to how my boss does it :( I hate messing up! In some ways its not a mess up its more so an owner preference but I still hate it. This is first dog thats said they didn't like how I did it more then how my boss used to :( Guess I can't win them all over.
 
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