Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Chicklet

Since we have last spoken, good things have happened!

Princess and I got our early birthday presents in the form of The Chicklet!  The Chicklet is an 8 year old Tennessee Walking Horse mare.  She is a bright bay with a cute blaze down her face.  (Technically, the white on her face is called a "strip".)  Her barn name (the name we always call her) is "Arielle" (Ah-ree-ell) which is Hebrew for Lioness of God.  Sadly, she's not as brave as her name indicates, but we are working to help her be more confident.  She is very sweet, alert and a beautiful mover!  Her gaits are like floating.
All of our horse experience thus far has been with pre-trained English Hunter horses who know how to lunge, jump and do flatwork.  While we learned a lot in that discipline over 4 years, we did not learn half of what we now know.  In just 3.5 months, we have learned more than we learned at our English barn. 
Owning our own horse has been a lot of fun, pain and hard work.  We do all of our own basic vet work, cleaning the stall and barn area, do all of our own feed and hay purchasing, clean and maintain pasture/paddocks, training, riding, ground manners/flatwork, etc.  We do it all!  
Arielle broke my foot 2 days after we got her.  She stepped on my foot 3 times over three days and broke multiple toes.  Needless to say, we began working on ground manners immediately. She saw a snake and figuratively jumped into my arms for me to save her.  1,050 pounds is a little beyond my holding capacity.  She's like a golden retriever in that she is loving, wants to be with her humans and wants to please more than anything.

We have enjoyed her so much over the summer.  Now that school has started, Princess doesn't get to spend nearly as much time with her.  I am doing most of the care and training until Princess finishes volleyball season.

We have found a fun and popular training method to use with Arielle: The Parelli method by Pat & Linda Parelli.  As with any popular subject, there are fans and critics.  So far though, Arielle responds very well and it is a fun way for a child to train.  Training horses is very much like parenting!  You must be kind, gentle, firm, respectful, maintain dignity, discipline in a consistent manner and be friendly.  A teenager/child is handicapped by not having the years of maturity that come with parenting.  So, it can be hard to train a horse without losing your cool.  The games that Parelli has created are all about having fun with the horse while teaching the horse to respect the handler.

For a nervous horse like Arielle, having confidence is 3/4 of her battle.  She wants to please, but she loses her confidence so quickly.  By teaching her to be confident, we have a much safer and pleasant horse.

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