Thursday, September 20, 2007
Again..... sorry folks- I'm not giving up on her. She was/ is to expensive to own and I've put to much time in her to quit. (:) Unless I am Forced to, and I don't see that happening.
Abby IS THREATENING to rear due to evasion- I know that. First it was fear, now if she even threatens its because SHE thinks its time to go in and that was because she had not wanted to listen to any one else ( hahaha- those who might have different thoughts towards driving or going to the barn). Wow, she had a lot of training holes as per many drafters who are started incorrectly, and we have " filled those in " with more knowledge. She was just disaster bound from the beginning of her driving career.
She was Just 18 months old the only time I saw her go up.... This was at her very first auction. ( She was being sold because her owner realised she wasn't going to end up 18 hands tall, even though Abby is of top quality and they were moving to another smaller farm.) She had been driven on snowy lanes in Maine a few times so she'd be " Broke to drive by sale time". I had decided she was the one I wanted for my belated Christmas gift from my husband. ( he told me I could own any show filly I chose, that he was prepared to buy her for me ) I knew her from her show career in New England, and had seen her photo in magazines,etc. I Knew she was a good mare but young.
Not to worry, I'd started plenty of horses under saddle and the same w/ driving. Never had one who caused trouble at all because I know what I'm doing. ( Been hitching horses for 17 yrs now, training saddle horses for 39 yrs) I dont' rush those who need more time to mature, nor am I in a hurry w/ those who are mentally/ physically ready. There's plenty of time to have a " Made Horse" -to ME anywho. Abby reared twice in being hitched there. Both times the surrounding arena was over dose loud, with horses working all over the place ( I don't know how many of you have been to a draft sale, but the day of hitching tends to be mass panic in some arenas) - it was a cart she'd not ever been hitched too and she was scared ! Who wouldn't be at just 18 months ?? It was nerve racking to me .
Once she was hitched, she drove off really well ! She got " stuck'' one time and began backing up. Her owner/ driver just sat there....Took out a standing gate, but she wasn't scared when it crashed to the ground. She was just soooooooooooooooooo green - and it showed. Afterwards,I talked to her owner who told me she'd only been driven abt 7-8 times because it had been so snowy. Well, that explained a LOT of her behavior to me at least, but I wasn't sure I could deal with a mare who'd go up when she was scared. I visited her in the stall and she was so incredibly sweet, I Knew there had to be more to it. Took her for a walk around the stalls,etc. and she was quiet as can be, but so curious and a little unsure of what was going on. It sure wasn't like that at the shows she'd been to. So Glenn bought her for me :D
When we got her home, she was aloof and ignored me a lot. Abby was good, but not bonding. She HATED having her mane combed out, and I quickly understood why- if you'd had your thick mane thinned repeatedly since weaning, had it shortened, and then thinned by pulling hair out some more so it would lay over nicely, wouldn't you Too get real tired of being in pain when someone else ( as you think) is going to do it AGAIN ?? Her forelock had been shaved on the sides so it could have a thin braid for the halter classes as well..... it looked real dumb to me, but that's the life of a halter horse in some instances. I told her never again would she be so coiffed. Abby has a wonderful thick wavy mane and forelock, so there would have been a LOT of pain to have her mane thin enough to lay over like some TB's might. She had on scotch bottom shoes that fit really well, but wow, once they came off, I found out how heavy they were...she had the side flares on her hind feet as well. This filly was not quite 18 months old, again. She'd been clipped and blanketed- again, the life of a show horse, so I couldn't turn her out w/out a couple of blankets to keep her warm. Abby has opinions and they are Very well founded. She hardly understood what it was like to be outside ALL day long and wanted to come in only after a couple of hours. That winter she was pampered some - more than the other horses here who know what its like to BE a normal horse. Now ? She Loves being outside all night long and happily meets us at the gate each morning to come in for breakfast.
As time passed, I learned how sweet and kind this filly really was. She has Never offered to kick, strike or bite. Always listened well and tried to be a good girl. That spring when she was two, I thought I'd ground drive her some and wait til she was older to actually hitch her. I carried the first part of the harness out ( Mine comes in three pieces :) and she immediately got scared. When Abby is scared, her lips tremble..... and boy she was trembling then. Her muscles were shaking on her shoulders, and thighs too. FEAR. I quickly realised she had been harnessed w/ a big old work harness.I remembered seeing it at the sale. No doubt it had been thrown over on her all in one big mass- basis for fear. We worked on that, and to this day, if I catch her unaware, she steps sideways looking at me in fear. My poor filly was very upset at this harnessing stuff. I didn't work w/ her much due to her being immature and needing to grow up some, that first year. ( her two year old year) We worked on the harness, and some ground driving. She didn't care for her thick snaffle bit so I changed it to some different ones, and she stopped throwing her head , mouthing the bit to much w/ a mullen mouthed liverpool. THAT one Abby liked a lot...had her teeth checked by Two folks- one professional horse dentist and a vet up here. Both said she had a fine set of teeth and nothing to cause trouble. We did have her wolf teeth pulled when she was younger. It was that bit she just didn't feel right with. Ever since I changed it to a solid mouthpiece, she's happy as a clam. :)
Fast forward a couple of years. I admit, I put off hitching her because I was not Sure she'd keep her feet on the ground...... So we worked on desensitations a bunch - from the ground. Last April I decided it was time or I needed to send her out to get trained or do SOMEthing with her. Now, I AM a horse trainer...have been for some time- so that whole idea bothered me. " stop being a sissy, Kris" is what I told myself, but I have discovered that when I hit the ground now, It HURTS !! No more bounces now. I thought I'd work w/ her some and then decide what to do... sell or send her to my friend who trains drafters.
Last April, It was finally The Day of Abby's first hitch here. I asked a couple of horsey friends I'd met up here who'd be a big help thru all this. We worked forward in careful increments, watching her reactions to each one. Nothing. Abby was ready to "DO Things !!" and she showed it. NO threats, no nothing and I was so proud of her , I was almost in tears. ALL of that careful slow work had paid off. Abby had been hitched w/ not one problem. So because I was busy showing my older mare ( the one who won for me so many times- and I trained her also ) that Abby kind of got put on the back burner. Also I had a younger filly to work with too- one has so many hours in a day it seems. We hitched her a few more times and each time she was great, til one day she kept stopping and tossing her face like it was a threat. Front feet bouncing off the ground a little bit. Not being positive as to why, I did what I did w/ my other Very Hot tempered mare, Dixie, and let her work thru it. Easier than causing a HUGE fight- which is what Abby was looking for. No response to her temper confused her- gave her no reason to have a hissy fit, and we had a pretty good time. I really wanted her to learn that driving was great fun .
This spring, it was the year to get Abby moving forward and to try some shows. She has been shown a LOT in halter, and is great, but pulling a cart in a class ? Ha..... After I got to the point where I could trust my strength and most of the back pain had gone, I tripped in the barn and blew out an elbow.. MORE time off as I couldn't even straighten the danged thing ! Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
Finally this April , we began work w/ Abby- dabby again. She still tried to evade being harnessed, but was much better. She just had so many negatives and bad treatment memories from before. We've been trying to drive every other day or so to get her muscled up some more, and lightly at that. The last three- four drives, Abby has done NO threats, no instantaneous stops, w/ ears back, listening to me. She's moving forward, giving to the bit softly, she's paying attention to where she is being asked to go, and is JUST beginning to collect properly. I don't ask for much as I don't want her to be sore- and add more negatives to her list she already has. ' One day at a time' We have a good time and only work for maybe 30 minutes or so. She's doing this happily, and loves doing a kinda /sorta extended trot. Yesterday, she asked if she could canter, but I said nooooooooooo- we'lll wait to do that. Today she gave me a teeny fuss about going past the OPEN gate out of the ring, and was so good. She collected properly for the sweetest little slow trot I'd seen her do. Light, soft, flexing her poll and jaw for me, and was fingertip control... boy I was ear to ear grins. No threats, not a bit of temper, just a lot of forward Fire outta this mare. I am thinking we're on the way back from Abby's hell, and we're Both liking it a Lot :)
Abby loves getting her apple pieces too for being such a good girl.... She has for a few years now, let me brush all the tangles from her thick mane, and lets me shorten it too - she just stands there dozing, in fact. She is wonderful to get trimmed by my farrier now, and she gets a rub on the neck from him as he knows how awful she was before. This mare is So smart and is so sensitive, that she could have been very very dangerous, but I HOPE we are now moving forward in this driving stuff. :)
Hope this explains my Abby a little better. She is NOT a bad mare, just has had a tough time in some instances. If I thought she was dangerous I'd not have taken all this time to help her past her 'demons'.