Katie's Journal

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Horses, Horses, Too Many Horses

by @ 8:00 am on August 17, 2012.

Time gets away from me so fast. So many horse updates. I realized I referenced Jim in my last post but never introduced him. So here is the saga of my latest horse adventures.

Stormy, the paso I was so excited about sadly did not work out. For a while he did great. He moved out, was as smooth as silk, and was getting better at standing for me to get on. But then out of the blue he started refusing to go once I got on him. No amount of kicking would elicit a response. A tap with a crop sent him rearing into the air or into a buck. The first time he pulled this trick I rode through it and got him moving forward. As soon as I did he was fine. No pinned ears and he was moving freely. I don’t ride often enough nor long enough that saddle fit should have been an issue and he certainly didn’t act like he was sore in any way once I got him going. I could get off and back on with no issues. I hoped it was a one time thing and tried again the next day. Same thing. He got a few days off and I tried one more time. He was worse than ever and this time Ern saw it. He talked me into giving Stormy up. I really didn’t want to admit defeat. But I’m not 18 anymore. Several years, 2 kids, a back surgery and a dairy farm later and I’m no where near the rider I used to be. Pride makes that hard to accept but it’s undeniably the truth. And even if there had been a good trainer in the area a month of training would have cost more than he did. He just wasn’t worth it. And so before I could change my mind, Ern took him to the stock sale. He was bought by an individual so at least he has a shot at another home. I hope they have better luck with him.

Ern promised we would try again and I started debating what I wanted in a horse. I agreed we needed something kid safe and family friendly. With the buggy we could take the kids with us, so I started thinking about a team mate for Boniface. Ern had been talking about doing a produce wagon this year (which he did and I still need to post about). I’d missed running a team since I sold Caleb and that just tipped me over the edge in getting a driving horse over another riding horse. Horses like Boniface that are, pardon the expression, built like a brick shithouse are harder to come by than you’d think. I kept an eye out for a while and came across an ad for Jim.

Jim is 100% broke for just about anything he’ll ride, drive, lead , stands to hitch.. he’s a great pony! would be excellent for kids will pull wagon, cart, sled it doesn’t matter, great temperment and no bad habits

After some emails, phone conversations and videos we went to look at Jim and, clearly, he came home with us. If I could find a clone of Jim I’s trade Boniface for him. Jim is extremely well broke to drive. Not so much to ride but he’s a very honest boy and tries his best. As I said is the above linked post, Jim took great care of Sami on our ride. I even took him out to herd in a cow the other day. Bless his fat little pony heart he gave me the best he knew how and in the end we did get the rotten hussy in. Jim is a worker, and isn’t quite the perfect match for Boniface – he consistently out paces him a bit. Both they’re both quiet and trustworthy so for now I’m happy.

I honestly can’t remember if it was before or after we bought Jim but I sold the paso foal. I’d tried several times to work with her and just could not get consistency. I’d get time for two days in a row then a week would go by. I put up ads and had no takers for several weeks. The ads lapsed and I decided to try one more time with her. I put up a small round pen, stuck her in it, and went to work. Again, I think I only managed two days in a row when I got an unexpected phone call from a guy wanting to come look at her. He turned out to be a very nice older gentleman who was retired but had previously bred and trained horses. We chatted a while and he clearly understood the hours of training time the foal needed that I couldn’t provide. So while it again made me sad, I let her go. And once again, I know that was the best thing.

Also this spring Ern finally relented and had old Black Jack put down. It was really hard for him but it was the right thing to do.

And so we were down to 4 horses. My two ponies, Sami’s mini, and Ern’s Belgian. I tried to be content. I should have been. But I really missed having a good riding horse. The ponies were fine to walk on a trail ride with, but getting any kind of speed out of them just seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I moped about it for a while and eventually went on the hunt again. This time, I found Sisko.

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Sisko’s ad read:

Cisco is a 12 year gelding ridden by my 6 year old daughter for the last year. He loads, clips, stands for bathing and trailers well. He is current on all shots and has been trimmed regularly. We have trail ridden him mostly and he does have a walk, running walk and canter for the champagne ride. Selling as just too many horses and daughter has decided she wants to show.

If he’s been ridden by a six year old surely Ern can ride him and he must be child safe. It took more than a month of emails and phone conversations to finally work out a time to meet up about Sisko. He was in Frederick which is quite a drive. It took some convincing but we got his sellers to agree to meet us in Cumberland.

When he got off the trailer I was surprised at how thin he was. I honestly don’t think his sellers even realized it – they did seem like nice people and had vet receipts for his current shots and coggins. He was otherwise clean and bright eyed with good looking feet. He seemed fairly calm for being unloaded in a strange place. We happened to be parked about 30′ from some train tracks and as we were getting Sisko saddled a big ol’ freight train cane rumbling by. Sisko picked up his head and turned an ear to it, but on the whole was not phased by it.

Ern and I had talked about it and had decided Ern should ride him first. That way if Ern hated him we could walk away without me getting a chance to get attached. With Ern, Sisko wouldn’t do much beyond walk. Ern got him to move out a little bit, but only for a few steps. So while Ern wasn’t overly enamored with him, I did get the go ahead to try myself. He didn’t particularly want to go with me either till I grabbed a little branch off a tree. A light tap got him moving. I was disappointed in his gait. It was no where near what my previous pasos had been and not what I’d read a Peruvian gait should be either. But it was better than a trot and he did seem to be safe and sound. I tried one last round with him and for just a few steps he smoothed out. After conferring with Ern, we decided to give him a chance.

He’s been here about 3 weeks now. My biggest job has been trying to get weight on him. I don’t think he’s a hard keeper, I think he just lacked quality food. His sellers said they had no pasture and the hay they had for him was clean but what we would consider mulch quality. I’ve put him out in good pasture and have been feeding him four pounds of senior feed a day plus a cup of vegetable oil. He has gained some but it’s a slow gain. His coat is starting to shine nicely. Hopefully in another month I’ll have him in pretty good shape.

So far I’m still very happy with him. He has one odd quirk. Sometimes when in the cross ties he will launch himself backwards. Mainly it’s when I reach for his head too quickly. He is so calm about most things it makes me wonder if he was abused somewhere in his past.

Then last night the cows got out in a hay field so I grabbed him to go get them. His sellers had warned me that if you tighten the girth too quickly he’ll “pop up” on you. I didn’t know what exactly what they meant by that. But last night I went too quickly and Sisko launched backwards, buck hopped forwards, then launched backwards again and with the cross ties pulled back as far as they would go laid down. Ern was there watched and we both just started laughing. Stupid horse. After a few seconds he got back up and then was fine. Under saddle he did great like nothing ever happened.

I’ve only ridden him a few times since bringing him home. He was so thin I haven’t wanted to push him and I think I’m doing the right thing. I am pleased to be able to say that each time I take him out his gait is getting better. first I realized he’s so thin that even with a thick pad my western saddles were hitting his withers when he’d bring his head up. I do know pasos need to have a high head carriage to gait well and I’d been having trouble getting his head up my first few rides. All the pictures I’d been sent were of him in a western saddle so I’m betting he’d learned a different way of moving so he didn’t hurt. I dug out my treeless saddle and it fits him really well. That combined with a healthy diet improving his health and fitness plus me learning how to ride him has combined to make his gait better each time. Now for short stretches he’ll actually smooth out into that floating gait that is so easy and fun to ride.

I haven’t had him long enough to truly say he’s a permanent part of my herd. But so far I’m pretty optimistic.

Oh, and for those who caught it, yes, I changed the spelling of his name in a nod to DS9. 😉 The first photo was the day we brought him home and the second was taken a few days ago. He hasn’t filled out a lot yet, but he is looking better. In the second photo, my silly chickens are trying to steal his food .

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Phew. That was a lot of typing on my phone. I believe that completes the update of my current horse life. Next up as I get time will be a post about the Produce Wagon.

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