Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 RAC- Many more lessons to be learned!

          My name is Amanda Ives and this year for the 2013 RAC I will be riding Lakota Gem. Lakota is a very green mare that needs a lot of miles to be put on her. By the end of the year I hope I can at least accomplish that! The first seven years of her life she was never handled and had no human interaction at all. She is 17 now and has come a long way, but she still has a long road ahead of her. She is incredibly sensitive and therefore becomes confused easily when cues are not exactly on point. However, Lakota is also a princess and sometimes just does not want to do what you are asking of her, whether it be walking through a patch of dirt she doesn't particularly fancy or she just does not like the scenery in that spot. She loves to be told she is beautiful and she poses for the camera. When she is in the ring she shows off her incredible bend and wants to be "oohed" and "aahed" at, and still, I am going to try and make her into a trail horse. *Sigh*

             This year is kind of an off year for me, typically, I would not be using Lakota for the RAC. Although recently I have been wanting to get Lakota out and make some progress with her, I would usually be participating with my horse, Morningstar Jen, who happens to be Lakota's full sister. Jen and I have been through a lot together since the day she came here six years ago. She severely underweight, food aggresive, depressed, scared, and pregnant. Throughout those six years I have worked with Jen and over 2012 we really started to get moving. In August and September, when the weather was actually nice, we started working on the trot. While we working on trotting in the ring and I started taking her out in the yard to get her more accustomed to the trail riding I had planned for her since the day we got her. We have a blast riding in the yard together and Jen likes "trail" riding in our yard and thinks it is so much more fun than walking and trotting in circles, and I agree.

When winter came, so did the snow. I tacked Jen up just like I would any other day of the week, or of the year for that matter, and took her outside into the ring. The yard was a bit icy because of our hill the water runs during the day and freezes at night, so I just stuck to the flat ring where no icy patches lurked. I mounted, asked her for her head to drop, she did, and we moved forward. Jen soon became very worried and nervous. Sure, the neighbors kids were out screaming in the yard, like always, their dog was out barking, like always, but that was all completely normal for me and Jen. We had spent countless days with sirens racing by on our road, neighbors screaming at eachother, dogs barking because the neighbors were screaming, and trucks going up and down the driveway right next to the ring (I don't exactly live in what you could call "a quiet little ranch with birds chirping, horses neighing, and the breeze sweeping through the autumn leaves"). It was all normal and neither me or Jen had ever really paid any attention to it. But she was genuinely scared, and it made me a little nervous. My mom noticed it too and she came into the ring. As she walks into the ring she tells me "She's shaking." Previously to this we were having suspicions about her vision, she rubs her eyes on her legs, squints, bumps into things with her nose, stumbles. My mom called the vet and asked them to come out, although it was not urgent. After the first visit, she revealed that Jen is completely blind in her right eye and can only see shadowy movements through her left. The sun was reflecting off of the bright white snow and she couldn't see anything at all. It never really occurred to me that she was having problems seeing because she had always done those little things and it just seemed like more of her little quirks, and believe me, even if you rule out all of her habits that are caused by her sight, she is still just a very weird quirky little horse.

So, this year I am using Lakota, not because Jen is unable, but because Lakota needs it more than Jen does. I will continue riding Jen in the ring and in the yard just like before. I hope I can even get her out on the trails also, but if she becomes very nervous because of her sight I will not push her because of my own personal desires. Maybe someday, when I finally get Lakota to be a nice solid trail mount, I will take Jen out with Lakota to help her out through it. Jen is far more than anyone could ever understand.

 “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
(Young India, Volume 1, Issue 52; 1919)”
― Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Jen giving my 11 year old brother a pony ride

Our "trail" rides


  1. Wow Amanda you do an amazing job both with Lakota and Jen. Kudos to you girl! I am so curious about your coming adventures, please share as much as you can! Best Caren

  2. That must have been very disappointing to you that you could not use Jen when you two have such a bond, but I will say that I really enjoyed your post featuring Lakota. Hahaha, my gelding Ah-D is a princess, too! I loved your description of that. He and I have worked out that issue, and you and Lakota will work it out eventually, too, of that I am sure. I see trails in your future.

  3. Your horses look lovely and I love how you describe them!