Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nakai- American Mustang- Learning My Horseitude

The American Mustang.  An Icon.  For some, a part of the American Dream. 
This amazing creature came into my life by chance.  We went to look at an Appy Stallion and he was off by himself in a holding pen.  He had kind eyes and the owner said he was impossible.  They had adopted him from a BLM adoption event and were waiting out their year committment so they could sell him.  Really?  This beautiful creature with kind eyes and the power of a Sherman Tank?  What were they thinking? 

 Yep, you guessed it.  Out of my mouth pops, "And how long until he is for sale and how much?"  Six weeks?  $150?  Pay them that day and all I had to do was wait,  show up, load him and he was all mine?  So, into the pen I went and off to the other side he went.  Humans were not a good thing.  Hmmm. 

Six weeks later I arrive with a truck and trailer and all day to load.  I am ready.  I have only backed Wynn Song (previous blog...a non event) but I have bought Pat Parelli's videos and I am going to use Natural Horsemanship...blend in a little GaWaNi PonyBoy training for my Native American side to be satisfied and this is going to be MY horse.  I bet you are reading this and shaking your head...I know I am.  Time to load.  I put on the halter, walk toward the trailer.  When he balks, I take the lead rope and wrap it around the pole on the trailer and apply pressure.  Time to wait it out.  Oh no...the idiot I bought him from is in a hurry.  Out comes the butt rope and a whip.  He is going to make him do him in.  Really?  Some cuts later and some unsafe events and Nakai is in and we are driving away.  We get home and unload.  Nakai is off.  Gone.  He goes to the far end of the pasture and that is that.  He had enough and so had I.  End of day one.  He is home and now I can make things right.

I am in love and with enough kindness and patience we will build trust and he will come around.  I have enough love for both of us.  This is about the relationship.  We just need to build it.  I can do this.

The following weekend, Pat Parelli is in Albuquerque with his wife and doing a clinic.  I go.  I did learn a lot.  I learned about using a carrot stick to de-sensitize, there are 7 games you are supposed to play with your horse and Pat Parelli is nothing buy a giant infomerical.  Ew. 

Nakai and I did begin to bond.  I learned he was a flight horse.  Better to run away.  In time, I was able to halter him and walk around.  I would sit in the round pen with him for hours and just "be."  Let him come up to me and eventually, I was not a monster.  But I was not getting anywhere.  So, I turned to a cowboy who told me to geld him and a day after his surgery to climb on and stay on.  He would be too sore to buck and this was the way to back him.  Not true.  He bucked and I ended up having shoulder surgery. 

So, now my confidence is shot, Nakai is not rideable and I am at a loss.  Videos, clinics and such were not going to work.  Time to hire a trainer.  Yes, I am still on the Natural Horsemanship kick but now I am going to try Clinton Anderson.  I found a nice guy who had worked with Mustangs.  (I have learned at this point that since they are more wild and less domesticated it would take a more refined technique to train him).  We made progress, a lot.  We worked in round pen and it got to the point Nakai wanted to come to me.  We did tons of ground work and we were building a bond.  The thing is it was not love coming from Nakai.  We had a mutual respect but not that something special I wanted it to be.  It was almost as if we tolerated each other. I was not giving up- we just needed more time- it would happen.

Fast forward a few years.  Nakai is still not backed and nothing has changed.  Reality check and time to be real.  I need to sell Nakai.  He is too much horse for me and our personalities are not a good fit.  I cannot control or force this one.  It is what it is and I need to be real.  Nakai went up for sale. 

This story has a very happy ending.  Heather (Iron Ridge Sport Horses) agreed to broker Nakai for me.  He moved to her place and she marketed, interviewed, trained and evaluated Nakai.  She found him the perfect home.  Nakai's soulmate is an 11 girl named Zoe.  He nickers when he sees her and is now "mushy."
I love a happy ending!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Voodoo JAK...I'm Not Done with Bad Boys

Five years ago, I was living in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and a friend was forced to sell off many of her horses due to a fight she was engulfed in with county zoning.  She mentioned a horse named "Milk" she thought I might like and would I come see him?  She'd give me a deal if I paid cash that day.  So, off I went.  Oh no, love at first sight!
Then I rode him.  He is gaited and smooth as silk.  I quickly became the proud owner of an American Saddlebred.    He had just been gelded after being bred to one of her Mount Taylor Mustangs and full of sass.  He was reactive.  No problem.  This has never bothered me.  Pay attention.  Anticipate.  Ride through it and break habits.  Yep, I can handle this.  Now, the name issue.  Milk?  Really?  Nope, "Voodoo" I decide because it's like Voodoo magic- my ride can be good or it can be bad.  Better give my dad some credit for adding some funds to the purchase price as my birthday present.  His initals, " JAK". 

I rode him all around the arroyos in New Mexico and then with friends in Oklahoma.  He loved to go fast or to walk.  The middle speeds were of no interest.  He'd pull and prance and he a brat.  One day we came to water and that took several hours but we conquered it after rearing and a whole lot of "I don't want to."  Nothing is ever easy.

Then my life changed.  Significantly.  I had to move, re-establish my career and overcome some personal life battles.  Voodoo got some time off.  One day after work, I got on him and I did not really know this horse.  All I could think was, "Wow is he barn sour."  No fun and not safe.  I need to find an enviroment I can ride him with friends and get him back under control.

Several months earlier, into my life walk Leah ( and Heather Harmon of Iron Ridge Sport Horses (  Every Sunday, we all get together and have a Pony Party.  We just enjoying being with horses, being with each other and helping each other if we want or need it. Long story short, Voodoo moved up to Heather's so I could ride him in her arena and we could see what they heck he pulling.  And thus begins the adventures of Kris and Voodoo!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shoot De Diamond a.k.a Princess Cheyenne

Let's go back ten years.  Here I am in my early thirties ready to embark on a rodeo career- well, a weekend warrior rodeo career... until I became a world class Barrel Racer.  I had attitude, dreams, ambition and I had ridden growing up....on dude ranches, friends horses, summer riding lessons, camp.... and now I was going to make it happen.  Yes, I was going to make my dreams come true and be a full blown cowgirl...from the city of Chicago.  One problem, I need a horse and tack and a truck and a trailer and to learn how to run barrels. Sounds feasible...or so I thought. Meet the horse once called "Princess":
She is papered with the AQHA (cannot find the papers to share her lineage but I do know she has Go Man Go and Easy Jet in her ancestry) and was trained to run barrels.  I was warned she was not too fast but a good horse to begin learning barrels.  Angel, the owner at the time had my then boyfriend, now ex-husband, working with her to iron out some of the kinks.  Ed had a few hours on her and had decided it was the kid and not the horse.  To test his theory he told me to climb on and off we went.  I have no memory of anything eventful happening during that ride.  I do remember she was a bit obstinate.  Angel decided that the kid- to- horse match was bad so up for sale went Princess. They say timing is everything.  I want to run barrels and poof here is a trained horse for sale.  SOLD!  Now, there is no way I am going to own anything names Princess.  No way.  Nope.  Hence, the name Cheyenne. 

Up to this point, I had not had a chance to test her skill.  I had ridden her along miles and miles of dirt roads and played the "pretend this is a barrel" game but I had not put her to the test.  Finally we have an arena and ready, set, go!  We are off.  She takes off beautifully and we get to the barrel.  She runs me into it cutting too close on her turn.  Ouch, my shin!  On to the next barrel.  I pull her a bit wider to set her up and bam!  Ouch, my other shin!  Hmmm, I think there is more than a clover leaf pattern happening here.  Last barrel.  Ok, set it up wider.  Ouch, my shin!  Now I understand what was meant by rough around the edges.

Long story short my barrel horse turned out not to be a barrel horse and I am a Payroll Manager not a professional cowgirl.

Over the years Chey has turned into a walking injury.  Yep.  Like my friend Leah's amazing "Jazu the Wonder Horse" I have the affectionately renamed,  "Princess Cheyenne of Bubble Wrap Land."  It has been one leg issue after another.  Just this past fall she cut both her legs on the propeller of the bass boat motor! 

Cheyenne is 18 this year and she is my rock.  When I can ride her, she is a truly great mount. 
And thus ends this part of the story of the first horse I ever bought...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

WynnSong at age 24 still amazes me!

Welcome to my very first blog.  Throughout the coming posts, I am going to introduce the "players" in my life.  Today I am going to begin with WynnSong.  She is a beautiful Arabian and the oldest of my herd.
Born in 1987, Wynnie is a gentle soul and very much a lady.  I first met her in 2000 and in 2002 she had her first ride...and I had the honor.  I will never forget it- I was tacking down Cheyenne (you will meet her next) and Wynn came over and nudged the blanket.  I teased her and asked if she wanted to wear it.  She just looked at me.  So, I out it on her fully expecting her to run off and leave it on the ground.  Nope, she stood.  My husband (now ex) and I looked at each other and said, "huh?".  So, I pushed it and threw the saddle one.  Same reaction., on went the bridle.  So I had to ask if he was POSITIVE she had never been ridden- this was too easy.  He assured me he was just as stunned as I.  So it was time to lean over her.  She shifted a bit and when she did I swung my leg over.  She turned her head and had surprise in her eyes explosion.  We stood a long time.  I think.  Then she took a foot forward and another.  I was at her mercy becuase she had no idea what I was telling her to do but she was Ok with it.  The only thing she tried was a crow hop at the fence line to see if I would fall off and over the fence.  This BTW is her signature move.  Wynn was ridden for many years with Cheyenne and she loves to run.  Then the worst happened.  She got pregnant in 2007 and gave it all to her baby, Wynn Storm.  Now she had never been an easy keeper and was so fat that when the baby came (late) she was a skeleton.  Out came the vet and the baby was pulled at two weeks.  I felt like an idiot. 

I am happy to report that my New Mexico Vets at Meddleton Equine worked side-by side with me and Mom and baby recovered well.

Stormy now lives in Healdton, OK and is a parade pony last I heard.  Wynn, well, she is still running around in my pasture and is retired.  I am happy to report that over the past few years she has begun putting on more and more weight and may just get a rider on her this summer....

Here she is enjoying the day with her friend SugarBush Sweetie.

Yesterday I lunged her for the first time in several years.  She was sassy!  She bucked a little, flipped her head a bit and then settled back into our old routine.  After a few (dozen) cookies and kisses, she was released back to the pasture and ran full tilt boogie back to the barn and started calling for her dinner. 
You have to love...Horse-itude!