Update on Sparks. Johnny goes for a gallop to prepare for the Carolina Horse Trials. Ozzie gets some experience under saddle.
In this week’s vlog, I try a new kind of protein bar made from insects, and talk a little about my search for a working student. My new mustang, Ozzie, is eating grain, and I was able to hop on him for a ride. Progress on Sparks is taking longer than I would like, but my experience with him has underscored the importance of having patience and connecting with your horse on a timeline that is right for them.
Progress with new mustangs, Ozzie and Sparks, and antics with Rick Wallace, Briggs Surratt, and Sarah Powers after a long day of competition at the Rocking Horse Winter I Horse Trials in Ocala, Florida.
This week I picked up a new mustang in training for Ginny Grigsby. Azogar (aka ‘Ozzie’) is a 9 year old from the Kiger HMA. Going from having his own band in Oregon to spending time developing a respectful relationship with a human is a major change. Ozzie is powerful and intelligent, so am taking things slow. By the end of the first day, however, I was able to touch his face, fix his halter, and feed him alfalfa by hand.
Sparks, of course, continues to make great progress. The sudden snowy weather made working the ponies difficult (I almost didn’t make it up my driveway when I returned from Florida after picking up Ozzie), but we made the most of it. Once the snow began to melt, I went down to North Atlanta Equestrian where I had some help from Stan Smith, who ponied Sparks for a while in a round pen, and then in an open arena. This has been a valuable exercise for working on Sparks’ bolting problem, and I am very fortunate to have the help of an excellent trainer like Stan.
More progress with Sparks the mustang. I describe my approach to desensitization, which involves introducing the unexpected while also maintaining a strong sense of security. I practice for the farrier by simulating the farrier experience, and get Sparks used to blankets using a fly sheet.
This week I took Sparks to the Bartow County Saddle Club to participate in an obstacle clinic organized by my good mustang trainer friends Stan Smith and Rebecca Bowman. I was delighted to spend some time with my friends Cavin Graham and Cindy Brasfield as well. I tried something a little new with the vlog this week, providing extensive commentary on my training process throughout the day. I hope it is interesting, enjoyable, and maybe even a little helpful.
In the first of my Q&As, I answer the questions (1) how many horses do I have? and (2) how do I fit the right fit between horse and rider? I rode Sparks for the first time this week. There’s still a lot of ‘spark’ in him (you’ll see he kept me on my toes), and I need to be patient with this one, but it is really great to see him progress as we establish mutual trust.
As I was preparing for Christmas last week, I made a terrible discovery: a rat ate the glass balls right off of my Christmas tree! In less weird and more interesting news, I continue to make great progress with my newest mustang Sparks through ground driving desensitization and confidence training. I received an amazing gift box from Buckeye Nutrition filled with all my favorite candy bars. Super yummy. And I finally tell Johnny’s story and share some details about our plans for the coming year.
With visits from the vet, the chiropractor, and the massage therapist, this last week was basically one long spa day for the ponies. Fledge made an excellent all-terrain vehicle as we come to the rescue of a vet stuck in the mud, and I welcome a new mustang to the farm. Sparks has a lot of potential, but for right now we’re focusing on reducing his anxiety with a little bit of ‘equine therapy.’