Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beth Goes to School

Two weeks ago, when I took Maddie up to Wild Winds Ranch for the KVTR clinic, she wasn't alone in the trailer: little sister Beth came along, and was unceremoniously left behind when we left. She is there for a 30-day start to her riding career. If Blake can put the first rides on her, to the point that she has basic control and we have a little bit off an idea how she'll behave, then I can take over with some "wet-saddle-blanket time" until I can get her sold.

So far, Blake has been working primarily on Beth's attitude. At first he felt it was mostly fear-based, but I knew better: yes, this was her first time off the farm, and the first person besides me to work with her. But once she settled in, Blake learned what a little snot she can be! The first week was sort of a write-off, with snow preventing all but two days work. Then last week they really got down to business establishing respect and expectations for human "space," and Saturday Blake got on her for the first time--mostly just up and down a few times, then a few hesitant walk steps. She cooperated for that, so Blake called it good and put her up.

Sunday, I went out to see her progress. Blake worked her a bit from the ground, to gain her cooperation. Here, Beth has had both the lead rope and the mecate reins come undone from the saddle. We decided to let her go on a minute, to gauge her reaction to the trailing ropes--no problem!
Then Blake climbed on. Beth looks pretty relaxed.
Because Beth doesn't yet know any cues from the saddle, Blake's wife Annette moved to the center of the round pen, to give the "forward" and "turn" cues that Blake has taught Beth. Then he did about 20 minutes of walking, with lots of turns, to establish basic control and cooperation. The one glitch in the ride comes at about 1:20 in this video. Our first thought was that Annette got just a little out of position, and Beth felt too much pressure. But watching the video, I think it looks more like something spooked her from outside the ring. At any rate, she scooted a bit, but didn't really buck. She stood quietly while Blake reorganized, and then went on to finish the ride with a good attitude.
Standing at the "tree of knowledge" to let the lesson "soak."
One worn out pony!

In other happenings from the weekend:
Sunday afternoon Pat rode Rusty down from her place, and I saddled up Kate, and we put Jackson between us for his first lesson in being ponied. Kate's first time as a pony horse, too. Once we got everybody lined up facing the same direction, and Jackson figured out that he couldn't be the leader, we made a couple of circuits of the arena and finished with a good whoa.

I also had someone come to look at Maddie on Saturday, so I got a couple of easy rides in after school last week. Another ride and a bath Saturday morning, and she was ready. Unfortunately, she wasn't quite what the gal was looking for--she wanted a more "floaty" dressage-type trot, not Maddie's western pleasure jog. Oh well. I was pleased with how nicely Maddie worked.


  1. Love that first photo of Beth. I think she did really well not to be upset by trailing ropes! And, always enjoy the videos, EvenSong. Fascinating to see how Blake works with her.

  2. I'm sure she'll be a great horse. She has a very intelligent face and you can tell she's always thinking.

  3. Wow. Horse riding training is not for the faint of heart, eh? She did a lot more than just 'scoot a bit'. Looks like an 'almost bronc' move the way way her back humped up and all 4 feet left the ground. Blake handled it well, though. From my untrained eye it appeared that his wife waved the whip with too much energy behind Beth...and like they said, showed Beth too much pressure, when she didn't need it at that moment. If his wife kept the whipe down or just pointing in the direction going, Beth stopped wishing her tail and looked more at ease. When she waved the whip, Beth's tail swished and her ears were pinned.

    Beth sure is gorgeous and looks confident and smart. She seems liike the kind of horse that will require a rider is smarter and more confident than she is. hehe!

    Great video and wonderful photos.

    And I'm glad you were able to get some time in to practice ponying with Kate and Rusty and Jackson.


  4. Thanks for your comment about the arborists. I think you may have something there. I hope it's not just wishful thinking on my part, but even though the buds were encased in a frozen ice shell last night, they don't look wasted oe destroyed this afternoon as the ice has melted off.
    Maybe there is hope afterall. :-)

    Thanks again,

  5. She looks adorable! That wasn't such a bad little crowhop, but I'm very glad it wasn't me up there!