I have been doing a lot of ground work and lunging with her to make sure that she at least has most of the basics down. Before anyone is ever allowed on one of my horses, the horse must know the whoa command. No exceptions. Tia knows her whoa command! She actually prefers the WHOA to any other "gait" LOL.
My wonderful student, Becca, has agreed to be Tia's rider while we work her until she is sold. I decided to build a makeshift round pen to free lunge her in before having Becca ride her. I have been lunging her on a line, which she has gotten much better about, but my shoulder just cant take the pressure sometimes and free lunging, in my opinion, builds such a better relationship. The moment we started free lunging, her attention was on me and she was licking and chewing a lot. She was much more responsive to my body position and voice commands off the line.
Mom...What are we doing?? Where is my nice comfy surcingle?
Lunging on the line.
First time with a bit (Since I got her!) Just a plain ole snaffle!
More free lunging
Free lunging in side reins.
I had walked out of the ring while she wasn't looking...after I snapped this pictures
she immediately came over to me like "what do you think you are doing out there?"
After about 15 minutes of lunging, with a bit and side reins on for about 10 minutes of the 15, Becca and I decided it was time to mount up.
Mom...why is Becca tightening the girth??
Tia stood very well for Becca to hop on. We took a moment for Becca to wiggle and pet and move around in the saddle. The whole time this was happening, Tia looked to me for comfort. After a few minutes, we walked. Tia followed me for about 5 minutes before I sent Becca the signal to take control. And they walked.
Tia good way. The more they rode together, the more relaxed she got.
Are my friends still out there??
Tia's bad way.
Big scary noisy truck going down the road. Tia's stopped, watched the truck, sighed and moved on.
(This is one of my favorite pictures!)
Every time Becca would ask Tia do do something, whether it be turn, move on, etc, Tia checked with me before doing anything. This mare is def a one person horse. She bonds with her person and I truly believe that once you have that bond with her, she will protect you no matter what. She only pulled two stunts the entire ride. The first was acting like she was going to lay down with Becca on her, which was quickly reprimanded and not tried again. The second was a little tiny buck that Becca quickly whacked her for and she didn't try that again either.
They then moved on to trotting!
I also got video. I have edited out the boring stuff (standing, excessive time walking and taking breaks to scratch her face). The camera put itself into compact mode which made the picture quite grainy. I will be videoing this weekends ride as well. Hopefully the camera wont do that again!
Her stifle is still "sticky" to me. It has come a very long way since I have started having April out to work on her, but at this point I feel she needs something extra. I have started her on Next Level joint supplement. I chose this supplement over the Dumor that TSC had simply because of the level of MSM in it. I am a huge MSM fan. Once this container of NL is done, I will probably switch her to a cheaper supplement and see how she does. I am really hoping this helps her. You will see in the video how off she is on that right side. Rehabbing stifle issues is tricky. Lots of straight lines and poles and hills - I have to lunge her, for Becca's safety, which means lots of circles. I think I am going to make the round pen bigger this weekend and see if that helps. I will also be moving some ground poles into the ring to get her to lift and disengage that hip.
All in all, the girls had a great ride. I'm not going to lie. I cried like an idiot for a few minutes. This mare has come such a long way, and she TRUSTS me, something I thought she would never be able to do again. It is very obvious to me now that she was started under saddle way to young and way to roughly. My thought is that this is why they bred her as a 3 year old. She wouldn't settle down and conform, they bred her to get the "piss and vinegar" out of her. When that didn't work, they sent her to slaughter. In some ways, I thank God that her previous owner got her from the Camelot Auction. How else would she have ended up with me? It was by God's grace alone that my friend, Michelle, contacted me about Tia instead of someone else. There are plenty of other horse people in the state of MD that would have taken her. But Michelle contacted me.
Michelle - if you read this blog, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I wasn't ready for another horse, especially an emaciated, known to be a nasty SOB mare with very little training. At least I didn't think I was. Thank you Michelle.
Since Tia has come to me, she no longer kicks, she is wonderful for the farrier, excellent for the vet, she now rides and has very nice ground manners. I don't tolerate behavior like she had when she came to me. She now goes out with 2 other mares, a TB gelding and 2 evil goats. Everyone gets along. The pecking order is established. She LOVES the water. She will go swimming in our pond every chance she gets..even in 50 degree weather!
I have someone who is interested in coming out to see her the weekend after Christmas. A huge part of me really hopes this lady likes her, and another part of me wants to keep Tia forever. I keep reminding myself that I am doing the right thing for Tia by finding her a wonderful forever home. And that maybe, by finding her her home, another horse that may need help will find me. I have thoroughly enjoyed the rehab process with Tia. Sure, there are been moments of "holy crap", but the love and trust that this mare has shown me is in-surpassible.
I will end this post with a few photos of Tia after her first ride and the link for the video. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.