Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thankful for Backup

It's so nice to have backup when it comes to training horses and managing a barn.  When I lived in Nevada I often had to be put on a waiting list to get someone to train my horses or give me equitation lessons.  I felt like I was always begging people when soliciting their help, or worse yet being put through a job interview when I'm the one offering to pay for their services, but I'm finding that there is no shortage of horse lovers here in Arizona.

The first few times Parelli student came by to work with the horses, I worked them with her and taught her the way in which my horse trainer and I have been training them, so that the horses would have some consistency.  Today I decided to let her have some time alone with the horses, because I had covered all the bases with her regarding safety and got to know her well enough to trust that she is in tune with the horses and won't take risks.  She's been really respectful about my rule of always wearing a helmet and boots, even when doing groundwork, and I've briefed her on all the horses' individual quirks.

Each time I looked out the window, Parelli student was doing the groundwork exercises perfectly.  She took her time thinking about each move before performing it, and spent way more time petting and praising the horses than I usually do, and I could see a clear change in the horses' behavior.  The first few times Parelli student worked with them, they tested her and questioned her body language and cues.  I would say that Bombay was even downright disrespectful of her.  But today the horses really seemed to enjoy all the positive attention she was giving them, and she successfully joined up with them.  When she removed their halter and walked off, they chose to follow her rather than to run back to the herd.

She bathed Gabbrielle, and I hung around for that to make sure she had all the supplies she needed and to show her how to handle it if she ran into trouble.  None of the horses are really good about standing still while being bathed, and they all hate getting their face wet.  It was rather fascinating to watch someone else bathe my horse, and a good lesson for me.  I'm usually running around like a nutcase to get all three horses bathed in one session while I have all the equipment out, so I'm really fast in getting it done.  I just put my thumb over the nozzle and spray.  Parelli student spent an hour just letting the water flow over Gabbrielle's body, petting and stroking her the entire time.  She slowly worked the hose up closer and closer to my horse's face and ears, and amazingly, Gabbrielle held still.

I realized that my horses would probably really appreciate it if I'd be that gentle with them.  I hug them a lot, but I don't constantly stroke them to soothe them when they are nervous.  I have more of a "get over it" attitude.

All within half an hour, I can usually wet down the horse, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, dry, apply detangler and comb out the mane and tail, but Parelli student took over an hour just to wet down, shampoo, and rinse her, and I could see that all the extra time she put into it paid off in getting Gabbrielle to relax around water.  I guess the difference is that my goal is always to get the horse clean while Parelli student's goal was to help the horse enjoy the experience.

In the afternoon the horse trainer came by and rode Bombay out on the trails alone.  I was feeling weak and tried drinking a stiff cup of coffee to get enough energy up to ride with her, but my blood pressure was really low.  That's okay.  The horses need to be ridden out alone more than together.  I think they finally got trail riding with a buddy down pat.  She returned from the trail ride and reported that Bombay was perfect.  The only time he sped up was going down into an arroyo and when she checked him on it, he immediately slowed to a walk.

One thing I love about horse people is that they utilize the fine art of bartering.  Not everything requires money in exchange for goods and services.  So, my horse trainer asked me to photograph her riding one of her colts in exchange for a free horse training session and two pair of rope reins.  I agreed to that.  Should be fun.


fernvalley01 said...

great news with the horses , hope you get feeling better soon

Marissa Rose said...

I'm so glad you were able to find a good 'leaser'! When I first started riding, that was why people let me lease, was because to me it wasn't just about riding, it was about coming out and grooming and just being able to pet a horse! (I still do have days where I just groom and play with them!)

Grey Horse Matters said...

It all sounds good. Feel better.

achieve1dream said...

I'm sooooo happy the Parelli student is working out so well. :D And that's awesome about the bartering. Will you be able to post the pictures?