Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mares Eat Oats

The reason I stopped blogging was because the issues that were consuming me were deeply personal and private and didn't involve just me. Sometimes this public forum just isn't appropriate, as much as writing things down and getting feedback helps. I was able to do that with several people IRL, but the issues continue and I'm far from feeling like any kind of resolution has been reached or that resolution is even possible.

Despite the limbo on one front, I feel compelled to share the trials and triumphs with my beloved Missy. My first ride on her was May 20, 2007, so we've just passed our one year in-saddle anniversary, and I've been riding her exclusively since January. I convinced my trainer that continuing to ride the lazy quarterhorse lesson horses was not a good primer for learning to ride my hot thoroughbred.

Last year we went through a spell where she threw her head around so much it was nearly impossible to ride her, and it turned out that she had to have some dental work done. She has an overbite and some other dental issues and after she healed from the work (including the removal of several wolf teeth) she was much better. A couple of months ago she started the same kind of attitude, only this time it seemed much worse, so after a few weeks of extreme frustration and disappointment my trainer decided we would try a hackamore, which is basically just a bridle without a bit. Within a half hour she was a different horse. It seems counter-intuitive to be riding a hot horse with a hackamore, which is usually considered to have less control that a bridle with a bit, but she doesn't have any bad behaviors, she just wants to go fast. She's learning to wait for my audio and leg cues before moving from one gait to another and usually is pretty good about slowing down and stopping when I ask her. Every time we start out she takes a few minutes to settle down and realize she doesn't need to fight a bit that isn't there, but we have made some amazing progress in the last month and a half.

So much so that my trainer is finally ready to let me ride her on my own! This is huge. Part of the deal I made when I took her was the farm would comp my lessons until I was ready to ride her on my own, so they have a monetary incentive, but my trainer is extremely cautious and would not be doing this unless she felt we were both ready. She is not the easiest horse to ride, I was starting from scratch and she was coming off of a 3 year haitus, so I suppose that in the grand scheme of things one year doesn't seem like such a long time, but to me it seemed like an eternity. Especially since I had to watch other riders, who in my opinion were not as skilled as I was, ride their own horses while I had to be supervised.

I look forward to writing more often and catching up with all my bloggy friends. I haven't been ignoring you as much as just needing a break from the whole blogosphere. I'd love to hear what you've all been up to.


  1. Welcome back! I'm glad to see that you've posted. I was worried about you.

    Riding your horse again sounds like a good thing. I wonder what her issue is with the bit. It sure would be nice if they could just come out and tell us what the problem is instead of us trying to figure it out.

    I met a trainer from California who starts all of his horses in the hackamore and rides them that way for a long long time before he ever puts them into a bit. I think it just depends on what you intend to do with your horse and how you use the hackamore. There's no reason a horse can't be soft and round with just a hackamore.

    As for a year, it means nothing to the horse. For them it's a process and it takes however long it takes. Getting caught up in time frames is our problem unless we chose to inflict it on the horse. Then it can cause lots of trouble.

    Looking forward to more posts on you and your horse.

  2. It's so very good to see a post from you. Congrats on the progress with Missy.

    I hope things are well in your neck of the woods and you are safe from the fires and such. I've been thinking about you a lot.

  3. It's wonderful to see you again.

    Hackamores work quite well. Some Gran Prix jumpers use hackamores, and they need complete control.

    Stay safe from the fire.

  4. Welcome back! From you other posts I know you've been trying to work your way through some emotional issues. I'm so glad you've had Miss to help you.

    Keep posting about your adventures with her, it sounds like you have come a long way in a year. I'm sure it feels slow, but think of what a great foundation you have created.

  5. Now I have that song stuck in my head! ("And does eat oats...." Thanks for the grin!)

    I'm so glad to see you and that gorgeous girl of yours. I love her 'do, and I'm excited you are getting to ride her.

    Continuing to keep you in my thoughts as you work through schtuff. I wish it could be easier, but know we don't usually have a choice. ((hugs))

  6. Good to see you blogging again. ;-) And good to hear about the wonderful progress with Miss. I ride my appaloosa only with a hackamore. Or sometimes just a halter and a lead rope, truth be told. I hope all of the other stuff sorts itself out. Sometimes only time will do that, I think.

    Pax. Kimberly

  7. Awesome Donna. Love to hear you are riding and starting to enjoy your horse again. I still am riding Maddy in a rope halter and leadrope. It has made her so light. Just practice your one-rein stops and really get her good at "giving" to lateral flextion and the hackamore will be perfect for you two.

  8. I've read your blog for a while but not commented before (till I had my own blog, I didn't feel it was "my place" to comment on others). I'm so pleased to see you posting again. Your horse is beautiful - and obviously good therapy.

  9. Good to hear from you, although sorry to hear things have been so tough. I hope they are on the mend.