Our neighbor, Mr. L., owns three paint horses, Wampum, Tammy Faye, and their four- year old filly, whom we dubbed "Strawberry". This spring, soon after I got back from Haiti, we began walking up to their pasture and petting them, feeding them treats, and eventually brushing them six days a week. Well, actually, we were focusing on Tammy and Strawberry since they are our favorites. For several months we worked with them- making our own rope halters, and halter- breaking Strawberry, who had never been trained at all since she was a couple weeks old. We gave Tammy a much- needed refresher on leading and longeing. We taught them to stand tied. Before this stage, we began bringing Savana and LilyAnn, primarily so that they could video us working with the horses, or take pictures. Savana began working with Wampum, primarily grooming him, but occasionally leading him around as well. I was sort of "head trainer" and would introduce a new concept to the horses, or deal with them when they were being difficult.
|A screenshot of Strawberry's first reaction to pressure on her mouth from the bit. (BTW, this is actually less dangerous than it looks!)|
We got permission to put the saddles on them, but were not allowed to ride, due to Mr. L's concern that we would be injured. T. and W. had not been ridden for over a year, and S. had never even been halter-broke when we first began working them, so this concern was valid- especially since we had only been on a horse a handful of times.
Finally, their owner was able to ride Tammy, and within a few days we were allowed to as well, provided that we stayed in the round pen under his supervision. He also got on Wampum, and eventually Strawberry as well. In those initial rides, Strawberry actually reacted the best (or rather, the least). Tammy did not appreciate all the weight on her back, but responded well to the bridle, Wampum didn't care a straw about the weight that I could see, but was stubborn about moving forward and turning. He didn't obey the bit well at all. But Strawberry was, as we put it that afternoon, "twice as good with the weight as Tammy, and twice as good with the bit as Wampum".
|Strawberry during her very first ride.|
|A screenshot of my first real ride on Tammy. Hooray!|
Then we were given permission to ride T. even when Mr. L. was not there, and about a week later, he said that we could ride the others as well. Finally, we went on our first real trail ride with all three of them. Unfortunately, the photos were accidentally deleted from the camera :( Daddy went with Farrah and I, and he said that it was the most fun he'd had with us all year (even if his legs were really sore the next day.) We rode all the way to our house, after taking lots of little back roads and trails around Mr. L's property. Daddy got off at the house and Evan rode Wampum back with us. Farrah and I cantered our horses (Strawberry and Tammy respectively) for the first time.
I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving us all that he has- a very generous neighbor, who considers it a favor that we ride his horses, a wonderful family who have supported and encouraged us, and of course, the beautiful world we live in, and the magnificent animals we ride!
Here's a few photos from our last ride:
|Evan on Wampum.|
|Riding by one of the many ferneries around here...|
|Farrah on Strawberry. This filly is doing great for being so "green". She used to have a phobia of branches coming near her head, but now we've ridden her through the woods and under low-hanging boughs without a problem.|
|Trailing in the woods.|
|Me on Tammy.|
|At the house. Russel was so excited that he repeatedly tried to escape from the porch and come see the horses.|
|A pretty flower I picked as we rode by the bush it grew on.|
|LA hosing Tammy down to cool her off. She also untacked her by herself (took off the saddle and bridle).|
|Leading Tammy and Strawberry back to the pasture.|
|And there's nothing like a good roll!|