Archive for March 7th, 2011

From Wence We Came

This past week has been spent getting Cass used to our saddle. She’s done exceptionally well and we get closer each day to me being up in that saddle! This is our practice saddle. I got it cheap off Ebay just for training. It’s a treeless saddle which is not the norm, so it may look a little different. But then we’ve done most things differently! The treeless I really want is expensive so that will have to wait. The first day I took the saddle on and off several times while she stood still. We did this under the barn shed where there’s more room to give her space if she did spook. She was fine. The next day we came into the barn where saddling will happen to see how she handled that. She was fine.

I had her walk the pasture a bit to get the feel of the stirrups hitting her. She was fine.

We got a trot going for a while and again she was perfectly fine! She kept flexing her head and touching the stirrups even when I didn’t ask her to. I moved the stirrups back and forth and up and down. I slapped my hand on top of the saddle to make noise and contact. My girl was fine.

In Eva’s opinion we’re taking waaaaay too long with all this desensitizing nonsense. She’s ready to ride now!

“Where’s that horse when I want her?!”

There is a definite reason for my caution with Cass. If you remember her story (or maybe you’re a new reader and don’t know it) Cass was a broodmare at a ranch in Canada before coming to us. The ranch had been one of the biggest PMU ranches in the area for many years. Don’t know the term PMU? Do a google search for Premarin and PMU mares please. Basically it’s ranching pregnant mares urine for use in the women’s health industry. The urine is high in estrogen and has been used for decades to treat menopause. If you or someone you love takes this hormone please do some research – it’s not a safe drug, not to mention the thousands of horses abused and killed by the industry.

This is Cassidy the night she arrived in February 2008 after a 3,000 mile trek on a semi from Alberta, Canada. She’s 9 months pregnant and was the only horse in the load of 20 not to have a halter on. Meant they couldn’t get one on her!

Now I don’t know for certain that Cass was ever used in the “pee barns”. She’s probably not even the fjordhorse I was supposed to get. We feel strongly the mare we’d picked wound up in California and we got the girl that was supposed to go there. Never have gotten verification but things just didn’t match up. Anyway it doesn’t matter who she was, it only matters who she is now.

Cass was definitely scared and ready to run at any little thing when we started getting to know her. In Canada if Cass was simply turned out with the herd, she was in a herd of over 200 horses. She was treated like livestock – not a horse, not a horse that mattered anyway. They also raise horses for meat in Canada… really. So Cass was right in not feeling safe, she was most likely slaughter-bound if we hadn’t bought her. Leslie Rush (http://partnerup.net/) was out the first week to begin training because I sure didn’t know what I was doing!

Here you can see Leslie takes her time in allowing Cass to understand the halter is no big thing. She watches for the most subtle signs from Cass to know when to take the pressure away. Pressure being showing her and touching her with the scary halter. Leslie simply being near her at this point was pressure. My girl’s come a long way!

I knew enough to know I didn’t want anyone to “cowboy” this girl. I got this horse to have a relationship and a relationship is what we were going to build. Leslie uses natural horsemanship methods and began teaching me about pressure and more importantly the release of pressure.

It’s hard not to fall in love with this horse! Cass, Becca & I have had the pleasure to spend months at Leslie’s farm and it’s been invaluable. We’re so fortunate in our 3 years together to have found trainers that not only have become friends but who understood how things needed to be. Leslie & Gary we are forever indebted to both of you. Thank you for all your patience and allowing us to learn from you.

So, for me to be able to put a saddle on my girl and trot around a pasture with her is a big deal. She and I have a bond that’s going to allow us to tackle just about anything, as long as we do it together and do it in our own time.

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