A Solid Foundation

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What is a person but a culmination of their experiences. Right? Well, sure we can throw in some innate personality traits. But the personality traits only really affect how someone is deals with their experiences. And I also think that some of ones personality is created from ones experiences. So basically personality helps interpret and deal with experiences while experiences can help shape personality.

That being said, a horse is but a culmination of their experiences with the same rules relating to their personality.

This is one of the main reasons I wanted to make Frankie. I wanted a horse with no baggage. I wanted a clean slate. I wanted only myself to blame for any issues he might have.

Of course I also wanted a jumping machine, one I couldn’t afford, of course unless I made him/her from scratch. Which in all honesty, isn’t cheap at all. And is probably the same price, but stretched out over time.

It worked! The Frank was a jumping machine and is one of the coolest horses I’ve ever been around. He’s got more personality than any horse I’ve met plus he handles everything (except cows — more on this later) really well. But his personality does make it so even though he’s good and chill, he has to test his people. He won’t just offer up good all the time. You gotta put your work in just the same. Which I respect.

So this brings me to Ice (Alice’s nickname if you’re just tuning in), of course I don’t know what her first 4 years were like. But I can guarantee they weren’t bad. She’s a wicked confident horse, super happy, incredibly healthy, and has a lot of personality (especially for a mare). Her personality is very positive, she wants to please, she’s a yes (wo)man but not a kiss ass, she isn’t bitchy, she isn’t a pushover, she’s pretty laid back with a pretty big spark. When presented with new things, she is willing and eager to learn. She always wants to do the right thing. She isn’t spooky, though has certain things that “set her off.” But mostly that is really an age thing.

All the above tells me she has had a really solid foundation that has led her to be confident, trusting, and kind. And that is really all anyone should be looking for in a horse. If you have those three things, EVERYTHING else is easy! I’m not kidding. EVERYTHING. You can have a horse with all the talent in the world, but if they’ve had bad experiences (especially considering their personality), you will never tap into that talent and if you do, it will be a lot of hard work and take a lot of time. This doesn’t mean that working with a horse with issues is a bad choice. On the contrary, it can be VERY rewarding. However, most people don’t have the skill, experience, personality, and especially patience to handle that horse.

Ice had a great trainer on the track, one that cared for the horses, one that put the horses health/welfare before winning/racing. That shows, it shows everyday I ride or work with Alice. I’m grateful for that because she’s a really cool horse. A lot of people like to say their OTTB were rescued, I like to think my OTTB is just a great horse that came from a great place, even if that place was a racetrack.

Though giving a Tall Omaha a home is one of the best things a person can do, not all race horses were abused and not all OTTB’s have scars. I don’t want to disway people from adopting OTTB’s that have had a rough start. However, I do think that a lot of people get OTTB’s that have had a sketchy history and/or possibly no foundation at all and they really don’t understand what they are getting into. This doesn’t just go for OTTB’s either, there are plenty (sadly) of all breeds that have not had a good start to the human/horse relationship. So look for confident, trusting, and kind – you can find these qualities in every horse, it’s just that many have had it taken from them, therefore it’s the new persons job to give it back to them, often a task that isn’t easy.

Okay enough already. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

We’ve only jumped once since my last update. It was an outdoor session, the first time either of us have cantered fences since November I think.

Two video’s one a montage of the full day (including a bolt), the other is just the last four jumps (with some Josh commentary).

Then I took a little trip to Florida to visit Lorie and Frankie. They were both fabulous! Frankie feels more sound than he has in a few years, amazing what no jumping does on the ole joints!

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He’s still Mr. Personality, of course. However, he has been having an “issue” with some cows. I didn’t realize, that’s one thing he’s never been exposed to. So the barn he’s at has cows and there are cows on the trail by the lake. It took him a little while to feel like these monstrosities weren’t going to kill him. Understandable, they do have horns! But then once he was cool with them, one licked him on the nose. The horror!

It was great to see both of them and I look forward to another visit soon. Also, why doesn’t everyone live in Florida? It’s pretty much awesome there, except I suppose once the ocean rises and it’s underwater, but until then…it’s awesome!

When I got back from my Frankie visit I only had about five days before Alice went to her new barn. I had to finally take care of her sprig:

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I’m cool with mohawks, actually like them. But hers was just a partial and she needed some primping. I’d been putting it off for too long.

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She got the works. I also have to say, I think she loved it. She doesn’t love all grooming, actually some she just doesn’t allow. Which is fine. But she did like her mane braided!

Then I pulled out the clippers, which I hadn’t been training her with so I knew it would be disastrous. It was. Well, until I put the twitch on. Then she was more than happy to comply. Josh thinks it’s strange that I’m okay with twitching her, “she’s supposed to be your friend,” true, but if he saw her he wouldn’t see pain on her face, he would see complete relaxation. Same with the lip chain. It’s only cruel if a person uses it in a cruel fashion.

She ended up looking very fancy for her move. Then came the move. I wasn’t sure how she’d load in a trailer. We hadn’t done that. Though I did predict she’d walk right on. Then came the moment:

What a good girl! And that, my friends, is a horse with a solid foundation!

The new barn is pretty sweet. Only been a few days. But rode her on day two after a little lunge session. We’ve been stuck inside due to blizzards and shit. But she’s all settled in. I haven’t met many other people as I’m sticking to my early morning rides. Though I’ll push that out on a few days so we can start practicing with other horses. Part of the reason I moved!

She did have one serious meltdown. I took her for a walk around the property when we first got to the new place. She was “up,” but not crazy. I had the chain over her nose, just in case. She respects that pretty well. I’ve never actually had her spook before. She doesn’t like dogs, so she gets panicky around them, but stuff has not made her scared. She might approach a strange object slowly, but she’s never freaked out before. So when she had a panic attack as we walked around a corner, you could say I was caught off guard.

It looks a lot like this but smaller, I think:

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She was sure we were going to die. DIE. She, from a standstill jumped up onto a bank that is about 4’6″ high, jumped down, then considered jumping up there again while pinning me against the bank (which is concrete block wall with grass on the surface). I remained calm, just hoping for a moment I could slip the chain from her nose to her lip. After talking her down from careening up onto the bank again, I quickly made the chain adjustment, her eyes softened, and we walked past the scary monster without incident. Mind you, we were about 20′ from it when she first saw it and then proceeded to meltdown. We ended by walking about five feet from it, calmly. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to walk her by it again because of snow/ice. But I intend on making sure that doesn’t happen again! We’ve all got our things, I guess Ice’s is water trucks! Frankie’s got cows.

Until next time…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Equestrian author, rider, and horse advocate Kristine Oakhurst has performed every equestrian related job there is from being a groom, vet tech, stall cleaner, catch rider, barn manager, trainer, and even board member for a breed committee. Her first novel about a discarded ex-racehorse and homeless 16 year old girl has just been published. [Checkout Tall Omaha at Amazon]