Friday, June 15, 2012

Normal to Natural

For those outside the horse world, it can sound like people with horses speak their own language with terms & sayings that mean little to others. Even within the horse world, different disciplines have their own lingo. If you follow natural horsemanship methods, you often hear the word "normal" used in contrast to the way those who consider themselves "natural" do things. For me, it's not negative, just different & a choice in how the horse is handled. I like the natural way & believe my horses do too.

I've recently acquired a new mare. Valencia is a two year old PRE (Spanish Andalusian) filly. She's been handled in a more normal or traditional way. The contrast between her & Zorra (my home bred two year old Andalusian cross) is clear & fascinating. My spring project is to get her to behave like a partner in all we do! Things that stand out are: she likes to be very close to you when leading, right at the shoulder, she has difficulty standing still for grooming & especially having her feet handled, pushes into pressure & has little respect for my personal space. When worried she'll constantly push into my space & spooks in my direction. She is very gentle, kind & smart without a mean bone in her body. She's trusting (excluding the feet) & loves people. So we've been spending time leading using the "swing the end of the lead rope" as we walk so she stays out my space & isn't constantly able to push into that halter which, by the way, is physically exhausting to my shoulder & arm! She's learned this super fast & seems to be way more relaxed leading. Valencia is very big. At two years old she's already 16 hands. I'm not a big person. Not only am I not able but I've no desire to man-handle any horse. While grooming she's been quite fidgety. I just stay patient & ask her to come back & stand here please. She got this very quickly & doesn't mind standing still. That is until I ask for a foot! So lots of friendly with her legs, which she firmly plants on the ground at the mere idea of picking them up. It takes a good deal of time, but she's allowed me to pick up each foot & is putting them down more softly. Just takes lots of massage & patiently waiting for her to get tired of me asking to get each foot. It's much like it was teaching this to baby Kisia & Zorra, but with a much bigger & stronger horse. So far once she understands & trusts my intentions, Valencia is more that willing to comply. Not sure yet, but still thinking she might be RBI (right brained introvert horsenality) which is so cool! Kisia & Zorra are both LBE (left brained extrovert). Having one that is opposite their horsenality but also my own personality type (RBI) will be a nice contrast to them & provide much learning.

I call myself lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with this new & fabulous mare. Valencia is a type that breeders don't often part with. She'll eventually be a foundation broodmare for our budding program. But for a few more years, I'll enjoy developing a partnership with her & learning more as a lifetime student of the horse.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spring Update

Spring arrived early in Mississippi this year & looks like summer has too. Kisia is now comfirmed in foal to the fabulous black PRE stallion Klickitat. Klickitat was bred by Jackass Mountain Ranch, who are known for producing some of the best PRE horses in this country. He has an incredible resume that includes National Championship titles in conformation & movement & is presently competing at 4th level in dressage under his owner/trainer at Villa Rosa Dressage. He's wonderfully complimentary to Kisia. We're anticipating a super nice foal out of those two.

We've also aquired our 2nd foundation PRE mare who arrived a few weeks ago. She's pictured here with our niece, Maddie. Valencia ADP is a big, striking, two year bay mare who I've been trying to get my hands on for a while now. Her breeder at Andalusian Dressage Partners is wonderful & has been quite gracious to help make getting this filly a reality.

Valencia has had a little trouble settling in in the form of an allergic reaction to our multitude of different species of biting insects. Our vet, Jennifer Dunlap, reports this isn't uncommon for a horse from a different type climate to experience their 1st summer here. Nothing extreme, but she has hives so will be a bit before we get more pics of her. She's being treated with meds, supplements & limited exposure. We're slowly integrating her into our little mare herd. She spent a couple of weeks getting to know the others by sharing a fence-line. Now she is with our other two year old filly, Zorra, for a few weeks before they go in with the other big mares. They seem to be getting on pretty well. Valencia is gentle & non-confrontational. Zorra is more confidant but not physically confrontational either so just some face making & moving around a bit before they settled.

My "dream" for sometime has been to have two foundation PRE mares of quite particular types. It's taken years to find & aquire each of them but so cool to be in this place. They are both inscribed in the Spanish Studbook. Next year when Valencia turns three, we'll pursue getting the next step accomplished for both, revision. So exciting times with an up & coming foal, a new mare & my personal indulgence, Zorra, being more fun than should be legal who will be ready to ride next Winter/Spring.