Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Training Oakley...

Day one: No pictures or video of this eventful day...of course! It was Oakley's first day of training, after being off for a couple of months, and she was a little hyper. Tony saddled her and took her out into the field where the manure is spread. This makes a perfect place to work a green horse, so that if you end up hitting the ground...it is softer! Oakley is not really green, she just hasn't been worked with for a couple of months. The guys had been training their mares for the pack trip.
Well, Tony slowly got up on Oakley's left side, leaned over the saddle not getting his head to far past the middle of her back. He used his right hand to pat her on her right side to simulate his leg coming down that side into the stirrup. She stood there. Tony moved to her right side and repeated the process. Still Oakley stood there. Tony repeated this on both sides a couple more times, getting farther into the saddle each time. On the fourth time he sat square in the saddle and she stood still. It wasn't until he ask her to move forward that she started getting a little skittish....then bucky, so he took her into a circle.
Oakley ended up rearing up and falling over backwards! Tony managed to pull her over sideways and jump free of her, both of them landed in the soft ground. After he caught her, he started the process over again, got in the saddle and Oakley didn't offer to buck this time. Tony rode her to the round pen and worked her for a good half hour. By working her, he would walk her around the outer edge for five or six times going to the left, then six or seven times to the right, back her up, stop her, walk around the outer edge again, move to the center and turn her in a figure eight pattern, and worked on flexing her neck.
When she relaxed, started licking her lips and following Tony's lead with the cues her gave her, training day one ended. TnT always end their training time on a good note. She would get a hand full of grain tonight!
Day two: No pictures, only video of Travis working Oakley out in the field. She didn't offer to buck or rear, but held her head pretty high. Trav worked with her basically the same as Tony only this time no fences. She was doing great. Again, she would get some grain!
Day three: Finally...took my camera and the video cam over to the stables! Travis is riding Cahlibur and Tony is on my mare, Oakley. My camera is not taking the pictures when I press the button, so I caught them before they moved away. Have you ever tried to take a picture and get all the horses ears forward...that would be a miracle! Their ears are like a radar dish moving to investigate every sound they hear.

Day four: Trav is working Oakley in the round pen again. She is doing really good. I need to stop and figure out how to transfer the video from the camcorder. It shows how smooth her gaits are. Oh, I can't wait to ride her! She did a flying lead change beautifully. She is a little rusty on flexing her head to the right, much better on the left. When Trav ended the session she rushed the gate, so the session resumed with him taking her in and out of the gate until she walked out calmly. She could care less about what was going on around her, she was listening to her cues!

Day five: Tony is doing round pen work, today. Because the round pen is small, Oakley leans a little more than is comfortable. Well, if she wasn't so round backed (from someone giving her grain twice a day when TnT where on their pack trip) her saddle wouldn't move as much. She is moving great. Stopping on a dime. Flexing a little better to the right, and just about perfect on the left. I can tell she is trying to please TnT and that means I am that much closer to riding her*. Tony worked her for about 45 minutes and when they started to leave, Oakley rushed the gate again! It didn't take as long for her to settle down and walk...she was learning.
*TnT are hesitant for me to ride Oakley because she is extremely fast under the saddle and they don't want me ending up on the ground. I think that I could handle that if I hadn't had back surgery 5 years ago and still needed a bone spur removed. Oh, well! She is mine and I can enjoy her if I am riding her or if the guys are!

Day six: We trailered Oakley out to the Watkins Roping Arena. Trav worked Oakley around the arena for the first 30 minutes, and just about the time he started working the steers the video camcorders' battery died...before it did though, the owner of the arena came out and talked to Tony about Oakley.
Tony told him about her history, that she was born in Oklahoma, put to pasture for the first four years of her life, trailered to California, (which she beat to pieces) was sent to a trainer that didn't see eye to eye with her, (we can't prove it, but from Oakley's actions, she might have been beat by the trainer) he wanted the blankety blank horse removed from his property! Completely embarassed, her owner took Oakley home and turned her out into the mare pasture. After a few months, her owner sought out TnT to train her. When they went to pick her up, they had to corner her to get a halter on, and she jerked her head away from them. They couldn't touch her feet without her striking out. She flinched at everything and jerked her head away from any hand movement. It broke my heart when she would do it when I was brushing and grooming her...
Because of this her previous owner was not able to have her feet trimmed, so her hooves were too long. TnT called their ferrier and set up an appointment two weeks away. By the time the ferrier showed up at the corrals to trim her feet, Oakley would hold her feet up for him to trim! At the end of three months Oakley would slide to a stop with her hind quarters almost touching the ground, rein at the slightest touch, and load into her trailer on command.
About the time TnT took Oakley back to her owner, her owner hurt her back at work and was not able to follow up on TnT's training. Oakley was turned out into the mare pasture for another year. Upon doctors orders the owner had to downsize her horse population and she called TnT to see if they wanted Oakley. My birthday was coming up and they didn't have a present for me yet! They bought a beautiful saddle for me the year before, so how about a horse for that saddle! She gave Oakley to TnT...she knew that Oakley loved the guys by the way she acted when they went to see her a couple of times. She is a love bug now. I shared some of her hugs a few posts back.
Back to the roping arena...Mr. Watkins thinks that Oakley will make a good roping horse, and this was from a man that has won many a prize back at the roping finals back in Oklahoma.
Day Seven: A day of rest for horse and cowboys and photographer!

Editor's note: I wish that I could conveyed to you the feeling of utter contentment and peacefulness that comes from being around horses.


jan said...

Beautiful description. This could turn me into a horse lover. They really do have their own distinct personalities, don't they?

Janey Loree said...

Yes they do! Cahlibur is our Gentle Ben, he quietly tells you when he is hungry (which is all the time!), Coal is our shy guy, it takes him a little bit to come up to anyone but Tony, but when he does he welcomes you wholeheartedly into the "herd". Belle is our escape artist, she checks the locks behind us all the time! Oakley is our scaredy cat and Clancey is...well Clancey is almost two and he is our little clown, with his mouthing and lipping everything he can get his mouth on!

SteelJaw said...

I like horses, so will follow this blog.



Janey Loree said...

Thanks for stopping by, Steel Jaw. I enjoyed your post about the "IRobot" parking garage, so I have already added your blog to my blogarithm account.

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