Archive for September, 2012
I’ve had about three rides on Lucky Star in a row where he didn’t kick up in protest at going forward. People in my arena of horsemanship believe in fixing problems on the ground instead of in the saddle. Lucky Star and I have had many conversations human to horse – ground to ground. My conversation is move and keep moving. His conversation is move and immediately stop or slow down. We’ve had many different conversations about this. My last outing with Lucky Star was about the best conversation we’ve had about going forward. We even did transitions where I asked him to slow down or stop before he decided to slow down to a stop.
Transitions faster and slower while maintaining the gait that I asked for? What a concept for Lucky!
Amazing, he did the best when I rode him too. Lucky Star even cantered when I asked him. We are nearly back to where we were this past spring!
Lucky Star is a horse that needs committed firm loving, breaks and rewards. I have to work really hard at being the partner that Lucky Star needs!
This is what Rob Ballard said to me one evening when we were sitting around, advertising his new company, Shelter Defense: “Horses were my baby sitter when I was growing up. My parents leased a horse for me and dropped me off at Leawood Stables every day during the summer. We would coax our horses to go far out in the pasture and gallop back to the barn. That’s all we knew what to do. I wish I could ride a horse now and get out there on the trails with you and Hope.”
Rob is Hope Robinson’s son-in-law. Hope and I ride together.
Earlier in the year, I got Sue back. Her job as brood mare had been priced out because of the economy. “Hmmm.” Sue is sitting in my pasture making a beautiful pasture ornament.
I asked our knowledgeable trainer, Jennifer Vaught what she thought about Rob riding Sue. “Good,” she said. “If it doesn’t work out, we’ll know right away.”
Here is the “Sue How Do You Do” story from when I got her the first time. http://mofoxtrot.com/viewpoint/2006/04/sue-how-do-you-do-your-first-day-with-me/
Sue is a well-trained, great on trails, wonderful, right-brained, claustrophobic, introvert and sensitive horse. She has been pushed over the edge in the past and slowly brought back into the “nice people” world.
When a stranger comes to her, she usually gets a little nervous until the human proves nice. In my world, all humans are nice. I don’t let those other kind in. Rob is an ultra-nice human.
I offered Rob the chance to ride Sue and told him we could make this a full time occupation if he got along with Sue. He said ”YES” and the magic started.
Thursday, I took Sue and Lucky Star over to Hope’s house. I tied Sue up to the trailer. Rob arrived and walked up to Sue. No muscle twitch, no lifting of her head. No questions about what he would do to her. She stayed calm. I marveled.
Rob untied her and took her to the arena. She followed him like a lamb. They played some ground games. Sue was completely calm. I marveled. “What is happening here?”
Rob got on and we commenced having a lesson. Sue was completely relaxed. Rob got introduced to some nervous too fast pacing bumpy gait. Rob’s ask for a sensitive horse was a little too much. Riding “Sensitive Sue” takes a little practice and experience before the “ask” could be a light feel. But no matter that. Sue stayed calm and when the lesson was done, her head was even lower. I marveled again. That was three marvels for me so far.
I told Rob a couple of times that the ground lesson and the riding lesson had gone quite a bit better than I expected. I really couldn’t believe how well Rob did with Sue. I marveled out loud a couple of times about this miracle. That’s three silent and two verbal marvels in one evening!
Rob and Sue were ready for lesson Saturday!
We had a group lesson on Friday night and again on Saturday morning with Jennifer Vaught t. I had just started taking Sue and Lucky over to Pine Dell Farm to get Sue a little “legged up” (in shape). Rob couldn’t make it Friday nite, but he was ready to meet Sue and ride on Saturday morning.
I played with Sue during the Friday nite lesson. She was a little nervous with me and calmed down about 20 minutes of playing on the ground.
Saturday morning arrived. Rob made it to Andi’s house earlier than I did. He walked out in the small pasture to get Sue. Whoops! I forgot to put in the instruction manual about Sue being a hard-to-catch horse. She eluded him. I arrived, got out of the truck and Rob informed me I had forgot tell tell him some of the instruction manual, the catching part! I got the grain bucket and Sue allowed me to catch her. I could feel Rob’s determination to get her over the “hard-to-catch category.
Rob saddled Sue and went into the arena to play ground games. Sue was relaxed and did everything he wanted to the best of her ability with a great amount of calmness. My friends yelled at me after a while of watching Sue and Rob. They yelled, “Rob does better with Sue than you do!” I don’t have shy friends and they know horses!
We all marveled. I know that I’m using the marveled word often, but I can’t think of another word to fit. The Sue that I played with on Friday night wasn’t present on Saturday morning. We had a calm Sue.
How did she make the decision to love Rob right from the beginning? We need an animal communicator!
Rob rode Sue. She met other horses, she passed other horses, other horses passed her and there was no claustrophobia. She let other horses get close to her! Once we were standing in a group circle and another horse cantered about three inches from her rear. She startled three steps forward and stopped. That was a little close with a lot of commotion to her sensitive hind.
Rob and Sue had a great time together. Except for the cantering horse behind her, Sue’s head remained relaxed and in a relaxed position. They looked great.
Jenny told Rob how good he did and the group lesson was over. I told Rob how wonderful he did with Sue.
That evening, we had a horse show. Rob had a vendor booth for Shelter Defense and we all got chairs and sat around. Jenny came to the show. About half way through the show I asked Jenny if she would tell Rob again how well he did with Sue. Jenny got up and came over to Rob. She explained to him that Sue was happy when Rob played with and rode her. “Sue loves you!! You and Sue are found a perfect match . She explained to Rob that he had done really well with Sue and repeated the perfect match. Someone mentioned that Sue had chosen Rob. I reflected that I had never seen Sue “happy” before when with a person.
Nichole Copple had taken Sue for 30 days before I took her home. I bet she was happy with Nichole too. Sue has been relaxed with me, occasionally. I would never say “happy with me”.
Rob was extremely pleased with Jenny’s compliments and about his bonding with Sue. A little later during the show, Rob whipped a dollar bill out of his pocket and gave it to me with a big flourish. “I know it takes $10 to become a member of the Kansas City Fox Trotter Club, but I heard you get a free membership if you buy a fox trotter from a member. I want to buy Sue so I can be a member of the club and this is my payment!”
Wow! Did my ears hear these words?
I took the dollar bill and put it in my purse. We talked how Rob had just saved $9 and got himself a horse. Hope thought it he was kidding. I took the dollar out of my purse and put it in my bra. No way he can not own Sue now. That dollar is not returnable.
That’s how Rob ended up owning Sue – How Do You Do Rob!
When you meet Rob and Sue out on the trail, be sure to marvel at the horse who chose her human!