Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mothballed

*WCC Benjamin
As I described in my post from the 10th of January, I have opened my farm to guest riders and even though the weather has been moody to downright unpleasant, I have a good core group of people who are out here on a regular basis.  The main goal was to get all of my horses handled in a week and it has been accomplished.  That said there was one horse who has been left to his own devices since 2007 (or is it 2006?? - how bad is THAT??) 

Like Betsy and Zoe said, with so many horses and only so much time in a day, one has to prioritize and it is the young horses and the sale horses who are allocated that time.  Furthermore I fear the liability issues in having the guests handle him or having him out while they handle other horses.  Hence *Benjamin has been in a field and with the only handling being routine care and the odd hug.

For those who aren't familiar with *Benjamin, he is a coming 11 year old stallion.  I've had him since he was a weanling and except for the 18 months he lived with Betsy in Vermont, he has been with me.  I handled him alot in the first 4 years from ground driving him like Donna does with Linus, to taking him to tailgate parties and eventually to riding him on the Manassas Battlefield Park.  He was also used for breeding and produced a total of 13 foals from 2003 through 2008.  He is the sire of Betsy's Cosette, and maternal grandsire to Donna's Linus.  For those who attended the campout at Betsy's he is the sire of Heidi's lovely black gelding Dante.  He returned to Canada with us in 2005 and except for a few trail rides in the few months that followed, he's been left to his own devices.

As of this morning that has changed.  I worked with him in his paddock for about 45 minutes.  It was mostly an exploratory session to see where he was at in terms of lessons retained and trouble spots.  Working in a horse's own paddock is not something I normally like to do.  As my horses are outdoors 24/7/365 I treat the paddocks like stalls.  It is *THEIR* space and I respect it as such.  It is when I take them out into *MY* space that the rules change.  However considering he is 1) a stallion 2) who hasn't been asked to do anything significant in years 3) sensitive by nature, I felt keeping him in his own zone would be simplest, safest and most productive.  Not that working in his paddock didn't present any challenges.  There were distractions (Lucy), obstacles (Lucy), nuissances (Lucy) and comments from the peanut gallery (Lucy)

I started with basic ground work - sacking out, giving to pressure and driving the front/fore quarters/hind quarters.  I was pleased that he was like butter compared to my green horses.  I then lunged him on a 12 foot line walk/trot.  So far so good especially considering the lunge at a trot on such a small circle requires alot of balance.   I swapped the lead rope for the lunge line and brought him to the far end of his paddock so we could work on a larger circle.  The snow was quite deep so that gave him a bit of a physical challenge.  I only used about 20 feet as I wanted to be close enough to make sure control was there.  He was willing but his transitions were so rusty especially the trot-walk transition.  Also somewhere along the line he has learned that "good boy" means "whoa".  On the plus side there was no pulling on the line and no resistance to anything I asked. 

So there is some work to be done there but I don't imagine it will take long.  That said I will approach it as a full "start".  *Ben was the 3rd horse I ever put under saddle myself and that was many years and many horses ago.  I know that I have evolved in my training skills just as anyone naturally would so it will be interesting to go back and see what I did differently then and how I will fix or fill in the blanks now.

I've attached a picture of our very first ride.  It was taken in Virginia in the fall of 2003.  Hoping to update that picture to a 2011 version in the upcoming weeks.

Lynn
Homefire Curly Horses
Stirling, Ontario, Canada

6 comments:

  1. I can attest -- Ben is an outstanding horse and sire of many truly great horses !! I look forward to more news of him and you Lynn !!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ben looks lovely. I imagine he enjoyed getting back to work! I am curious to hear more about him when you start riding!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a good boy he was for you Lynn, looking forward to hearing more about him.
    Shelly in Summerland, BC Canada

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lynn-
    Great to see news about Ben. I can't wait to see more. The head shot of him looks so much like the one I posted earlier this week of his daughter Olympia.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looking great! He's so gentle...does he even know he's a stallion?? I suppose only when need be! Can't wait to see an updated picture of you on him.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, Lynn, please keep us posted on your progress. I met Ben when he was at Betsy's and I was very impressed. He is one handsome dude. I bet he will be very grateful and willing for something new to do.

    ReplyDelete

Blog Archive