Thursday, September 20, 2007
More drives w/ Abby 6 19 2007
After a week off due to a puffy spot on Abby's right hock, she seems to be fine ; swelling is gone, and she no longer "acts" like its sore. She never was lame, but I'm paranoid about something happening to all the horses I own . So after a week of rest and good stable management, Abby wanted to know, once again "When are we doing things again ?" Yes, foolish as it may seem to some non believers, my horses do communicate w/ me and they have since I was three years old. So I told her that 'soon' we would do things....this means being hitched, ground driving, and lots of "fun" things for Abby n' Me.
This morning was supposed to be horrid w/ heat n humidity of early summer, so I hurried thru the barn chores (stalls, turnouts, fly masks,fly spray, feed/ hay/ water, etc ! ) and after Abby was done w/ her morning hay, she was curried like mad, ( working on that mirror finish show coat ) vacuumed off and carefully harnessed. Abby used to threaten to rear, and was Very scared about all this harnessing stuff, due to her past not-so-good training. Its taken me almost 3 yrs to get her to this point, so I'm proud of her each time she's brave in trusting that I am NOT going to slam a big heavy work harness on her , thus clanking her w/ buckles, pieces of heavy leather ,etc. Not to mention with each piece of harness that she stands quietly for, Abby gets a treat. I normally do not do this sort of thing, but I had to think of someway to make being harnessed Positive. Thus the horse cookies- if she's not perfect, she gets nothing, so Abby learned Fast ! :)
I harnessed her alone while Glenn finished up scrubbing/refilling the outside water tubs ( this man is a Keeper !!). She was wonderful- more interested in those cookies, than the harness- this is Exactly what I wanted. Something for Abby to look forward to , instead of trembling in fear and standing as far away from that harness as possible. NOW, she's a mooch ! This is alright though and the cookies won't last for long now. Just in her feed tub like the rest who get worked :) Hahaha- I slipped her bridle on , quickly seeing it was the Wrong one. Got the right bridle, and changed it all- Abby didn't have a problem w/ humans being stupid at all. She was in crossties,( halter under her bridle) and I hitched her to the cart. She stood like a big statue, looking back to be sure I was doing it all correctly. She loves to see what is going on behind her and I encourage my horses to SEE that cart, or what ever is going on behind them. By then Glenn was done, and he headed her Just in case she chose to walk off alone. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooot a good thing. She stood quietly for me to clambor in that cart and get seated. Again- she turned her head to make sure all was alright. Merely interested.... which is good again :)
Off we went, down the lane to the ring, a nice step Gee, and into the ring thru the gate. She was quiet and light into her bit as we walked about some. There was some work going on at the neighbors place, so we had to stop and check that out. Lots of hammering and items coming out thru upstairs windows too. That would have gotten my attention TOO. She wasn't upset in the least, because I'd let her check out where the sounds were and to See them too. Off we went again at a nice walk. I have made the mistake of asking for a trot at a certain place in my ring all the time- and Guess WHO has learned where ? We were trotting and I'd not asked for that, so we had to begin again... Walkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk, Abby, And walkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. She listened perfectly but sure did want to keep that trot going. I let her walk along for a few more yards then asked her for a trot. Well, the words "walk on " and Trot! don't compute some mornings w/ her. There's been SO much to work on and she does go from a kiss sound, so I've been incorportaing both. This AM, Abby picked up a nice working trot. I'm still not used to her rhythm yet, so I check her feet, making sure they are tracking correctly and am trying to learn Her speed. Its tough as I've not had to deal with this for some time, being spoiled in knowing my other seasoned mare to a "T" ! I'll get it though. We did a slooooooooooooooooow trot and wow, this mare put on the slower speed really well. She's not got much of a clue about collection yet as she's SO green, but she's trying to understand . So we held that for about once 'round the ring ( its a 1/8 th mile jog track) and I was very pleased with her. Hahaa- seems Abby's idea of a strong trot ( we don't get much extension yet, but again, its coming as she gets more balanced/ stronger) is a canter-y/ trot-y item now . She asked to go faster than a strong trot, but I said no, that a good strong powered trot is all I needed today. Happily she complied. What a grand mare she is going to be !!
We have Only been hitching in a steady manner for about 5 weeks now, intermitantly due to weather, and "life" for me. We did some real nicely balanced figure 8s- for ME mostly so I do them RIGHT, and not sloppy.I Don't want Abby to learn that some things are to be ignored.... She was so good in those, that I thought for the first time, I'd ask for a stop in the middle of one. I warned her, and said " Abby, HO" . WOW, she came to a complete stop in about 3-4 strides. Abby stood quietly, sometimes looking back at me as though to say
" Abby thinks mom is nuts". It wasn't perfect, but danged near for a mare who two weeks ago threatened to rear each time some pressure was put on her. She stopped with just my ''pinkies'' asking her to, and stood for me. Abby got a lot of " GOOOD GIRL'S" for THAT. We trotted some more, and did the cone pattern - a simple serpentine in between them in line.... and did a back/ step up like one needs to do when in a show. I figured things were going well, so I asked her to 'fan' for me. Its a drafter thang and is basically a roll back in a cart. I gave her as clear a signal as I could and helped her step over by tapping her breeching straps w/ the whip, and told her to Step Haw... Well she tried real hard to understand and follow the directions, but again, it sure was Far from perfect. But she DID a 1/4 fan to the left, and then stepped Back over to face Glenn again ! Now that was an accomplishment for Miss " I wanna show folks my belly button !!" . We stopped with that - again after Tons of butt rubs, and praise for herself.
Drove back to the barn front, stopped, Abby waited while I got out of that cart ( I love it, but boy, its got rough entry/ exits !). She knows to wait for me too. By the time Glenn arrived, I had her partially unhitched and she was happily mooching cookies. None then, but she got hers when she was put back in her stall afterwards. Abby was hosed off and her sweaty face sponged, excess water ( now warm)was scraped off her, and she got to graze outside til she was cool enough to be in her stall. Not one drink from her water bucket, so I knew she was fine. :)
All in all, it was one perfect drive for me and Abby. I love this little black mare so incredibly and am on Cloud Nine at how good she's coming along after a few years of panic and my considering selling her as she was never going to be a safe hitch mare. But she IS - and is going to continue being good. I HOPE. Our first hitched show is on June 30th- we have a LOT to practice just so we don't look TOO foolish in the ring !
Off to watch our video of the World Percheron Congress from last October :D