Friday, January 15, 2010

I can imagine that you're getting a little tired of seeing the same ole scenery, using the same ground techniques with the only change being the color of horse! I felt it necessary to start everyone back at the beginning with some refresher work before leaping first...and love to share, so hang in there! Hopefully next week I can switch gears, become a bit more creative and try some work out of the round pen.

Until that happens, I have more of the same....Today was spent working a lot of horses, but only one Dream Angel.

Angel is from Betsy's program. Out of Dream Curl by non other than Chip. From the moment I saw a picture of her in 2002 I was in love and had to have her. She has been a challenge here and there, something to do with that extreme way of being, but always a pleasure. I will spare you a lot of repetitive explanation of what we did with Angel's ground work today and post a few of the pictures. Instead I will explain what's been going on with her.

I so wanted to ride her today, but Cheri convinced me otherwise....Here's why.

Last summer I mounted Angel for the first time. All went well, other than when I fell off the step ladder as I was in the middle of mounting because Angel side stepped away! My knees don't work anymore, so it was like an elongated boulder tipping off a small cliff! Scared the daylights out of Angel, my trainer, husband and son as well. But all was good and only my pride was a tad bruised! I got on her and we had a good first lesson riding her at walk and trot in the round pen. I was in heaven! Chomping at the bit for more!

Her next ride was with Cheri in the round pen. We were commenting on how well she was going, so well that we took her out to the next pasture where we had an obstacle course set up. Angel was very relaxed about this new experience and taking everything in stride.

Out of the blue, all fours went a good 3 feet off the ground with a wild bronco spin. Then she dropped her head between her front legs, and sent her rears into a hand stand! Cheri was launched like a rag doll. Thank God just the wind was knocked out of her. I was convinced Angel must have been stung. We had been fighting with sweat bees nesting everywhere last summer, so that seemed logical. I actually have the incident on video but can't be definitive as to exactly what caused this behavior.

We lead Angel around the course a few times. Cheri remounted, I still had the lead line, and we walked the course this way and that. All was good, so when Cheri was ready I let them go and it was if nothing had happened.

The next lesson started in the round pen. Dan was building a deck above it for our equipment and as a viewing area. He heard Cheri saying something like "easy girl, whoa Angel..." He turned to see Angel sending Cheri for some serious air time. Dan felt horrible thinking he startled her. Nope!

Our son, Dustin, decided he would mount her as Cheri had little interest in a repeat performance. Dustin barely got his seat in the saddle--and not once, but twice--was met with the same results.

I am trying to give Angel the benefit of the doubt. We have not gotten this reaction from the ground.

We've tried different bits and fact the first time she sent Cheri flying, Cheri was riding bareback.

We've checked her teeth.

I have plans to get a chiropractor out to examine her, but in the mean time (and as a retired massage therapist) I have palpated her all over with no indication of pain or discomfort anywhere.

I've tried bending her this way and that, thinking perhaps a pinched nerve, but nothing...I am at a loss. I have to wonder if Angel has learned a new and draconian like trick, then think NO WAY there must be a problem that I am missing.

I am dying to get back
on her (but don't want to die in doing so!:~) Cheri insisted that I didn' for today I have refrained....even though hubby (gotta love him) said "you're going to your ortho tomorrow, so go for it!" He must have forgotten that he could get stuck with all the chores!

Today's lessons with Angel began with join up. Then working on verbal commands at liberty. Lots of transitions. Moved on to some equipment. Then ground driving doing serpentines , figure 8's and a lot of small to large back then back to small circles. Put the saddle on her and just stood on the mounting block while Cheri walked her up and past, up and halt, again and again. My intent was to put some weight in the stirrup, but Angel had other ideas. It had been a long session, and we wanted to end on a good note, so did some yielding, backing, then standing and called it a day.

Any and all thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated. I must be missing something and am really at a loss here. Thanks!


  1. How scary! You need to help that gal live up to her name and her heritage! =] I am no trainer, so I can't offer any grand ideas but have you seen Monty Roberts use that riding dummy? He puts it on the horse before anyone gets on and what's cool is it weights the same as a small person, but it flops around and if the horse bucks of course, it never comes off! So far, Angel seems to have developed a little bit of a bad habit in that she can dispose of her rider if she protests. I wonder if starting her out with ground driving, pulling things would get her focus on work and build those muscles and work ethic. (?) Just babbling out loud here, havent' had a full cup of coffee yet! LoL.

    Keep it up Annie, you are doing great! LOVE your posts!!

  2. It's not going to hurt to get her checked out by a chiro - just in case.. I doubt it's anything genetic dispostion wise since she has so many siblings and other relatives under saddle ! Over 30 out of Chip and 20 out of her Mom Dream Curl. But keep up the ground work and maybe - as Denise said.. pull a tire or something for and increased positive work ethic.

  3. Why thank you LuLu! No, I haven't seen the Monty Roberts test dummy, but it's funny that you suggest that. Cheri and I were talking about trying something like that. It would be simpler (and cheaper) to initially have her pull some things around first. I tend to agree that this is a bad habit she's learned although want to deny it saying perhaps she is a one person horse as she hasn't dumped me! LOL.

  4. Hello Betsy...I certainly didn't mean to insinuate this was a genetic disposition by ANY means! I love both Chip and Dream Curl and have seen their offspring at work. Plus both Mac and Ahote are out of Angel and they have great work ethics. I do believe Angel was stung (or bitten by a large horse fly) last year when she dumped Cheri--the first time. She normally runs and bucks like being chased by the invisible cougar when at liberty and that happens. The next rounds were a complete mystery though. So the assumption is either she has some real discomfort when pressure is applied a certain way or learned a silly (and dangerous) habit. I still plan to have her assessed by a chiro to be certain. I will also do my best to get her in a much more consistent program to further increase her work ethic. We must have a few tires around here (last summer every vehicle on the property got new I should have plenty of sizes and weights to choose from.) Thank you for the advice. And I will keep you posted as to what a doc has to say and her progress.

  5. Hi there, just reading your post, i may have a few suggestions that will help you out, first of all you could try lungeing her while someone rides, that way if she tries to act up you can either pull her around so she stops or send her forward and make her feet move using a lunge whip or something of your preference, that way she has to concentrate on what you are asking her rather than bucking. If she has good ground manners she should respond more to you on the ground rather than the rider on her back, this may help for her to realize that carrying a human isn't so bad and will learn that she must behave herself. hope this helps you out, good luck and be safe :)

  6. Hey, Annie, definitely NOT sick of your blogs. They are very interesting and easy on the eyes. Please keep them coming!

  7. Pam, thank you for the suggestions. She has good ground manners, responds nicely to her ground work, so longeing her with a rider is certainly an option to try.

    I have a cranial-sacral therapist coming over to evaluate her and we will proceed from there.

  8. Hay there Tilly. You are too kind--but keep it coming! Looking for some more of your adventures...I was getting psyched to take Kwis out this weekend, but our heat wave has turned much of the snow into ice deceptively covered with water...too scary for even Annie!:~)

  9. Bucking can be a conditioned response, very difficult to stop. I've always wondered about a dummy. We do a lot of ground driving here, all over the place. That and a trainer for starting them, I'm afraid to start them wrong. Good posts, love the pics.

  10. Well, I don't know about other Curlies, but mine has an extremely long memory, and he is an absolute wuss about pain. Example: as a 2 year old I tried a bridle (without a bit in it) on his head once. It was a used bridle I was thinking of buying for him. It was clear when I put it on that it was too small for his big lunky head and was pinching his ears. I took it off right away.

    He spent the next 3 weeks sticking his head as high in the air as it could possibly go whenever I cam near him with his regular halter.



    I'm riding Sage in the pasture. Sage's starts twitching his (very short) tail like mad and stomping and twitching and is clearly very agitated to get rid of a bug. I see an enormous deer fly go under his belly. I dismount immediately and kill the sucker, and get back on. Every ride for a month after that; ANY sign of fly activity AT ALL, Sage stops and swings his head around to look at me like "will you get off and take care of that please?" and is huffy when I will not.


    Curlies *certainly* have their opinions from what I have seen, and while they are incredibly smart, patient, loyal horses sometimes they learn TOO fast. Then it takes lots of repetition to train them out of it...and after that they will be fine.

    Seems like 3 or 4 incidents like that is plenty for Dream to start associating riding with bad things and think that launching her rider is now the normal pattern. I think starting slow and making *sure* she gets a lot of experiences where someone is on her for 3-4 steps and THEY decide to get off waaayyy before she can even think about it...would be good.

    When Sage was green we did the Parelli 7 games with him, with me on his back and my mom running him through the games. That way he didn't have to listen to my aids he just had to learn how to carry my weight. i think that was very helpful.

    Good luck with your wonderful, sweet, *intelligent* Curly horse!


  11. One more thought...I would spend a lot of time with her with someone sliding onto her back on one side, and right off the other. Then do it in reverse. Lie on her back while someone holds her and slide off over her tail; basically desensitize her to the sight and feel of someone being anywhere on her back. You imagine yourself being 'like a human curry comb' and just lying on their back massaging them. Turning it into something pleasant like that might help train her out of any negative associations she has with people on her back.

  12. Thanks Dian...I agree with you there! We are considering a dummy at this point as I don't want to see anyone get hurt. We also do a lot of ground work, then ground driving as well before mounting, and work periodically with a few different trainers...unfortunately something beyond our comprehension happened here. Appears I have my work cut out to get this corrected!

  13. Oh Brie your comments on the curly learning and relearning curve are so accurate! Thank you for all your me a lot of new methods to try with her. Especially the human curry comb...she is a mush bucket of love for a massage! I am having her evaluated before we try mounting her again, just to be certain it isn't a pain issue. Then we can let the games begin. I will keep everyone apprised of our progress.


Blog Archive