Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Lots of updates!

The VLC is back to 100% sound after a regimen of handwalking, hand-backing and longeing on a big circle with lots of walk-trot transitions, so I finally got to ride him a few days ago and was reminded again how much I love him! He hasn’t been ridden since October, I think, and he stood perfectly still for mounting and did not move off until I asked (hooray! That was a tough thing for him to learn last year, but it stuck!). He then walked off on a loose rein, ignored the other horse in the arena and generally rode just like he always did. He was so lazy that I had to threaten him with the rein ends to get a jog but that’s typical with him – he fires up as he gets fit. When he is unfit, he is a marshmallow who just wants to walk. Personally, as an older, chickenshit rider, I think that is a FINE, FINE, FINE quality! It’s great to know that any time he has to be laid off and not work, he will come back LAZY. The rehab period had another nice benefit – he has learned to back on a perfectly straight line, as well as back around circles and corners and make turns. I think we’ve inadvertently set him up for trail class!

Now of course I’m back to the original dilemma…training for his show career. Wouldn’t you know it, the trainer I liked sends horses to … *sigh* Cleve Wells. Now, that person may be completely innocent and not know anything about him other than that he’s a big name and wins. The trainer I like is a long, long, long way away from Cleve. Still, now I am nervous again. I imagine what I would do to someone who put spur tracks on MY colt or broke HIS jaw and I’m pretty sure I would go to jail for it.

Friend #1 says to send him to a dressage trainer. While I can find one of those who isn’t abusive, you guys have all seen my VLC (pic below for those who may not have). He just isn’t built for it. He’s built for AQHA pleasure. That’s his niche. That’s what will come easy to him.

Friend #2 says send him to the original trainer. I saw nothing wrong in that person’s barn (true, I was VERY impressed and didn’t see ANY unhappy, thin or marked-up horses) and we all have some shitty friends (also true! I would not like to be judged based upon everybody I’ve ever come into contact with in the horse world. I worked for some eeevil bastards in my youth.). But he’d be far enough away at Original Trainer’s that I couldn’t check on him all the time and I am just too nervous. And I don’t want to be anybody’s paranoid, pain in the ass, nightmare client, either. If I’m not 100% comfortable, I’m sure we’ll both be happier if I just don’t do it.

Friend #3 says to just do it myself. I’ve noted before that my major reasoning for not doing it myself is (a) I have a lot to learn – I haven’t shown in so many years that, back then, we were still “seesawing” to get head set and (b) I have bad show nerves. I don’t always think logically, I make mistakes because I rush things like transitions, and if we get to the point of jumping, forget it because I don’t see distance well enough to make a horse look pretty. My horse deserves better than that.

So now I am toying with a variation on #3…I am going to meet with a possible trainer this week and see if I can put him there, take lessons on him a lot and do most of the riding myself, and then have her ride him for shows. If she is comfortable with that, it might be a compromise that I can live with.

I’ve also decided that at some point this year (might be spring, might be fall, we’ll see how other things work out), I want to send him out to a friend in Eastern Washington and have her guys put 30 or 60 days on him just using him on the ranch. He LOVES cows and he LOVES to herd things, despite his size. He herds the smaller gelding he is turned out with. He is way too big to ever cut and I don’t think he has the acceleration to rope, but I think that mentally, he would absolutely love the experience and it would make him into the sort of solid, do-anything trail horse that even I would like to trail ride.

And yes, I will start calling him the VLS…in May when he actually is! For now, he’s still a three year old to me. 🙂

I’m curious, who has a horse in training or going to training this year? How did you decide on a trainer? How much information do YOU need to feel comfortable that your horse will be safe and that you will get what you pay for?

The Big Gold Yearling (hey, he’s not two til March 4th!) is out to pasture with a TB colt and they are enjoying their life of rolling in the mud and biting each other in the neck. I’m thrilled because the TB likes to RUN and that has gotten my colt into a lot better shape without putting him into a formal work program. The eternally ribby, gawky yearling look has gone away and now he’s round with a butt and some muscle tone! He’s still growing like a weed. I think he’s going to be bigger than the VLC. He’ll come back home this summer and get to work learning to be ponied and wear tack.

I am hoping that Thai (above), who is still out rehabbing with KarenV, will be amenable to being used as a pony horse. My goal with her is to fit her up, teach her to neck rein and use her for that. She’s sound and normal weight now thanks to Karen – just waiting for spring to bring her back to this side of the mountains and put her to work!

Lucy has an admirer! Lucy, the Crabby Old Bat, and the yearling are all pasture boarded at the same place, and the lady’s adult son loves Lucy. Lucy, surprisingly, loves him too. She is still very wary of most people but will let this big guy come right up and catch her. He is going to ride her when weather permits and see what he thinks. Cross your fingers – Lucy really needs a person of her own! She also just loves the pasture board life – she thrives on it and has no trouble holding good weight in a herd. She would very much like to stay right in the herd she’s with, and if he adopts her, she will. For now, she is muddy and happy and probably the most relaxed that I have seen her since we got her. All efforts to ID her have failed – her tattoo is simply too illegible. We know she is 15 this year and that’s all we know. Lucy is below. Love that front end. Jeez, people, who bred that? She’s 100% sound, though!

The Crabby Old Bat is also muddy, happy and delighting in the fact that she gets to rule a small herd again. I tried keeping her separate with Lucy and Belle and she would have none of it. She needed to rule over the barn owner’s geldings and walked through the fence repeatedly until we gave up and let her. Now she is happy. She has a 17 hand Seattle Slew bred OTTB gelding for a boyfriend, and the two of them hang out together and kick anybody else who dares to come near. She’s also the best weight I’ve ever seen her, and I credit a lot of that to finding really mud-free pasture for her this winter. Even with all of the rain we’ve had, the place she’s at is high and mostly dry – it runs off right down to the road – there’s mud but none of the deep, sucking stuff that aggravates her old joints and causes her to drop weight from pain.

Belle and Clover are with another friend as Belle wasn’t doing well out with Lucy and Buffy. Belle isn’t a “herd horse” – she likes to be treated like a princess. Her teeth are so poor even after a floating and extractions that we have switched her to alfalfa pellet mush along with Clover. The two of them live together and gimp around happily, waiting for their slaves to bring them their warm mush! I actually dewormed them the other day without drama from Belle. That is a first. She normally rears, strikes and makes a huge drama out of it. Maybe you can teach an old dog – or an old-ex-broodmare – new tricks!

My January training project is going to be my February training project. Sly finally returned from the fairgrounds but our arena is still too wet to use. I may try to do some ground work in the gravel parking lot, but for the most part, training is simply pushed forward to whenever I have a safe place to ride again.

I went out to visit Libby, the VLC’s filly from last year. She is in that gawky yearling stage and gave me a little grief about catching but after that, she was wonderful. She stood quietly tied to the fence and let us pick up her feet, groom her and shampoo her tail. She’s much more “huntseat-y” looking than her dam and I think she’s going to turn out pretty cool!

That’s my update. How is everybody else doing? How’s my baby moose? 🙂

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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