Heads up- this is a post about how amazing Quaid is and how happy I have to have him in my life.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
As you know I've been working with Quaid since he arrived June 30 (although it seems like he's been here much longer). I've been keeping our sessions short and wondering if I'm doing it right (the curse of AAs, right?).
Practicing our tying
Way back in the winter when getting a third horse was barely a thought I signed Carmen and I up for a Horsemanship and Obstacle clinic for Aug 20/21. I always get a lot out of them but mostly they are fun for both Carmen and I.
As I've been working with Quaid I began to entertain the idea of taking him instead. He was settled in nicely at home, was doing well and I thought that it would a great way for him and I to spend some quality time together.
So I started to prepare. The last time Quaid was trailered was his journey to come home. I figured he might have a few worries about that so I hooked up my trailer and we spent the next week just loading and unloading. The first time he was 'oh oh! NO! I don't wanna!' but we kept it slow and easy. One foot, off, two feet, off etc. Within a few days he was walk on and stand quietly with a leg cocked.
The day we left I repeated our process- walk on, walk off, walk on, etc. And then I had Ed quietly put up the butt bar and then close the door. And then we were off. Quaid kicked the trailer 4-5 times as we headed out and then was quiet the whole way. To be fair, until he got on my trailer I think he'd always been free (in a box stall or a stock trailer) but I don't know that for sure.
Our ride was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Once there, Paula (who was doing the clinic with her mare) helped me unload. He backed off quietly and, although his eyes were huge, he followed me into his stall. That night I took him into the indoor (his first possibly) and hand grazed outside. He and Georgie (Paula's mare) were across from each other and he fell in love (to be fair she is gorgeous). I was told that after we left for the night he did pitch a small tantrum in his stall but he settled after about 20 minutes so she didn't call me to come back.
Quaid: is this my new home? What is happening?
checking out the indoor
I stayed with Paula, who lives about 15-20 minutes away. Her place is lovely and has the best view for sunrises.
The next morning we all gathered together for the clinic to share about our horses, what our goals were etc. I always really enjoy those sessions. It's fun to hear from others and to identify similarities and shared experiences. It's also great to hear other perspectives.
I shared that I brought my 2 year old and that I was looking for:
feedback on my groundwork because I have probably gotten lax since Carmen understands it so well
an understanding of how Quaid thinks and reacts to new asks.
for Quaid to have a good experience
for us both to get to know each other a little better.
there were kittens everywhere! They loved all the whip action. Quaid was quite entertained by them
We were in the first group and I brought Quaid out. Funny conversation with Nikki when she came over to meet him:
Nikki "he's very pretty. He's an Andalusian right?
Nikki: *looks at me in surprise* are you broken?
I laughed and explained that he is an Azteca and in this case a Lusitano/QH cross.
As I suspected, my timing and clarity needed improvement but mostly it was my expectation. Mike talked to us about having a 'spot' for our horses. It can be close, it can be further away, we get to decide but it's important. It helps the horse to relax and understand the ask and allows us to be safe. I have to say I loved working on that. It helped a ton with the leading and when I was cleaning out his stall. Normally the horses go out and I clean when it's empty (I might pick it out with them in but not clean). I couldn't do that at the clinic so it was great to work on that in the stall so I could keep him out of my way and out of the wheelbarrow.
Here's what I learned about Quaid: he's amazing.
No seriously, he was able to figure out to stay on me even when stuff was going on around him. He tried his best to figure out everything. We even began to work on ground tying. Which is hard, especially with all the kittens.
The morning is groundwork and the afternoon introduces the obstacles. We start on the easiest- the square part of the L (the L is a small square platform about 4" with two narrow arms, one higher than the other). Quaid walked up, sniffed it and the was 'okay' and walked over.
He was like that about every single thing. When he was unsure he'd look at me. Like the first time over the teeter totter (set very low), he stepped on it, felt it move, looked at me
Quaid: did you see that?
Me: yes, it will be okay, I'll help you.
Quaid: okay, if you say so.
His eyes were huge after lunch when he saw all the things.
We did A-Frames, balance beam, saloon doors, curtain, moving platform, teeter totter, water box and the flintstone car. Here's an old video of Carmen pushing the car. It was always her favourite. I was happy that he was able to work with me when other horses first started pushing it around. He definitely was a little worried but stayed with me.
He was more worried about the teeter totter than the moving platform (maybe it reminded him of the trailer). I was even able to give him some freedom and he would walk over the things. He was also a little startled by the saloon doors and the curtain. The approach is always slow and easy with us holding things to the side and gradually letting the horses feel it touch their sides. This is going to be very useful for trail riding so we'll keep working on it. But honestly, his struggle was to scoot a wee bit.
He loved the water box. The first time they go through it's empty. The next day it's filled with water. I waited my turn and Nikki was there to help. The idea is to line them up to it to go over the short side. At first it's just about them thinking forward (think trailer loading). Nikki turned to answer a question, Quaid looked at the water, put his foot in and then walked right through. He went around and walked through again all on his own. Nikki turned back and said 'well that was easy' I said (with a lot of pride) 'that was actually his second time through. I then lined him up to go through the long way and splashed though quite happily.
I know that this sounds like shameless bragging but he was a total star and everyone fell in love with him. Mike took him from me a few times to play with him.
I couldn't take pictures of us working the obstacles but here's a short of Mike showing me to give Quaid some freedom to make a mistake and then gently correct. This helps him learn to control himself and not have me micromanage every step. This happened after we had gone over it a few times so that he knew the ask.
Every session I was careful to give him breaks and then to put him away before he felt tired or overwhelmed. I mean, he did it all really well, there was no point in drilling. the last session on Sunday afternoon I questioned if I should even bring him out or not. He had a lot thrown at him and handled it well. Mike suggested I bring him out, walk him through each obstacle and be done with it. So that's what I did.
Then Paula and I helped each other load up and get on our way. He walked on the trailer like a champ. I feel that he might be ready to learn how to self-load. When we left there was no kicking or fussing in the trailer. When we arrived home, Irish started to call. he answered.
Irish: Quaid is that you?
Quaid: yes, it's me!! I'm home. I thought I was in a new place forever but I'm back!
Despite being excited, he backed off quietly and I needed a few gentle reminders that he couldn't pass me to get back to the barn. Even Carmen nickered at him when we were walking up.
I let him into the paddock where he greeted Irish and Carmen and then trotted of happily to his field. He spent the next hour grazing and cavorting and just generally looking really happy to be home. It was adorable. I let Carmen and Irish in for supper and I had to go out to the field to get him. Clearly he feels all grown up now.
I am so glad that I took him. I got some great insights into his mind and character. I think he got some insights into me as well. I think we're going to have a lot of fun together.
What a good boy! Geldings seem so much easier after dealing with opionated mares!ReplyDelete
They do. Except for the putting everything in their mouth. :)Delete
What a grand time and a fabulous boy. You have every reason to be proud!ReplyDelete
I am so happy with him.Delete
I'm blown away by his behaviour at his age! Wow!ReplyDelete
I was pleasantly surprised.Delete
I'm so tickled you got to take him and that he was such a good boy!!! ♥️♥️♥️ReplyDelete
You really can't put a price on such a good mind! Plus he's gorgeous :)ReplyDelete
Quaid seems like a sensible and very smart horse. You are right to be proud of him!ReplyDelete
This is GOLD! Congratulations on the best idea of bringing him to the clinic.ReplyDelete
He is a smart boy! You are going to have a wonderful journey together with that much intelligence and trust.ReplyDelete
He's a very cool horse! What fun for you that he was such a good boy for his first real training / outing.ReplyDelete
What a great baby horse. I think you got a good one!ReplyDelete
This is so amazing, I am so happy for you both. What a smart guy!ReplyDelete
Wow! What a great brain he has! I'm so excited for your future together, I think you'll both have lots of fun!ReplyDelete
this is so exciting, so happy for you!! he really seems to be such a thinker, such a good head on those beautiful shoulders!ReplyDelete