November 2008

Right by the front so he will see everyone walking by…


I have been behind with Jasper news and it’s time for an update. And it’s a big one.

What a journey this has been so far! From not being able to get near Jasper to getting him to trust me to ground training him and actually finally getting on him! But the last while I had come to the conclusion that it was time for Jasper to go into full training. He’s finished preschool in a sense and it’s time to go to college. I wanted to leave the starting under saddle part to a professional.

So I went looking around for a trainer that would start my big guy. I had several issues to face. In the first place, not many trainers start horses – at least in my area. There are a lot of western trainers but I wanted to start Jasper english, which lead to my next problem. Not many english trainers start horses. The third problem is that most english trainers are not that into natural horsemanship. I finally found an english trainer who used nh techniques. And was closer to me! I was all set to move there, but changed my mind. This raises another issue. Trainers who compete a lot and/or don’t return your phone calls promptly! I’m busy just like everyone else but not getting back to someone for a week at a time raises a big flag. After this happened several times I decided not to go through with it.  How often is this person going to be working with my horse if they are away at clinics and shows and can’t even return a phone call?

I decided to go to another trainer, who is a little farther, but closer than where Jasper has been living for 2 years. The facility is huge and has about 70 horses, but this trainer currently has a fairly small clientele and I felt would give me a more personal approach to Jasper’s training. This is a critical point in Jasper’s training and I want to ensure it is done with care and with his well being in mind.

So it was with great sadness about leaving the ranch and also excitement/trepidation for the future that we made the big move.  Jasper was very sensible about the whole thing, I was so proud of him! In fact, I think I was more of a basket case than him. Even though he had not been in a trailer in 2 years he stepped right on in. It was about a half hour drive to the facility but it seemed to take forever as we followed the trailer. Every once in a while I could see Jasper’s head reflected in the windows and my stomach would kind of lurch. Is he freaking out? Is he going to burst through the back door? Well no, he was fine, but me, well, I thought I was going to puke!!

We finally arrived and he made it off the trailer fine, although he had sweated quite a bit. As soon as he stepped off he stood up in his giraffe stance and had a good look around. As I lead him to his new stall and paddock, he stayed close beside me but again, was perfectly fine. This place has a lot of quarter horses so I think people were naturally intrigued, ‘who is this big fella?’ (one in a million) ‘is he a friesian?’ (my cheapie friesian!) ‘what’s his breeding?’ (Heinz 57). He seemed to settle in pretty quick, went out to his paddock and immediately popped his head over the fence and watched all the goings ons. This is a pretty busy place so he will definitely get to see a lot of action. He had a good roll and looked pretty relaxed when we left him. He was bugging me for cookies so I felt that was good sign!

Moving is hard! Especially to another boarding facility – with new people and maybe a different way of running things than your previous place. You want to fit in but you also would like certain things for your horse. But if you ask for too much, you’re afraid of looking like the ‘problem boarder’. It’s still keeping me up at night.  Hoping I have made the right choice, wondering if he is ok, wondering if I’m going to be ok with this. I had to weigh the positives and the negatives in choosing to move – to this trainer, this facility – and remember that my goal is to get Jasper trained under saddle, and trained well.

I’ve just placed one toe into the pool. Baby steps.

The buckskins are soon to be set free., originally uploaded by cdnmich.

I met some interesting characters on my trip to New Mexico. One of these was Dan the Mountain Man. He is contracted by the Forest Service to round up the mustangs. I know – roundups – bleck. This is one of the few mustangs ranges managed by the Forest Service and not the BLM. Hard to believe on this vast range that 100 mustangs have to be rounded up this year. Unfortunately these roundups are not going to end anytime soon. The GOOD NEWS is, the Jicarillla mustangs are captured without helicopters. The technique is called ‘bait removal’. For more information about this technique,  this was news footage shot that was actually shot one week before I was. I wish it was still available because the way he does it is pretty darn incredible, and puts barely any stress on the horses. ( however the news article is.) These 3 buckskin mustangs had been caught using this technique but were being re-released because of their gorgeous coloring and conformation.
What a treat to get to witness mustangs being set free!
Dan the mountain man invited Lynne and myself along for the ride. We drove and drove…and drove along a winding dirt road, almost to the Colorado border. The only civilization we saw were the natural gas wells with assorted equipment and empty trucks. The workers had long since left for the weekend.
There were 2 stallions and a mare in the trailer. Dan wanted to release them separately so that the stallions would not fight over the mare.
The first one to go free was Lowball. (If you go to my Flickr page you will find out the reason why he was named that!
Dan fiddled with the trailer door, opened it up and out came this absolutely stunning horse. Off he went down the road, tail flying in the air. It was a sight to see.

Isn’t he a HUNK?!?

He trotted down the road for quite a bit and I snapped pictures. Then he stopped and turned around to look at us. Was he confused?

Or was he just saying goodbye?