A quick update on life. And life with Takoda. The two are not mutually exclusive but I have been SO busy lately (new job, major additional stress, busy season starting) that my only other outlet and significant responsibility has been my horse. Anytime I am not at work or working I am at the barn.
Sam snapped this pic on Easter Sunday. No just risen zombies were found at the barn that day, but it was eerily quiet due to everyone else doing holiday stuff. LOL.
I was struck by how much Koda looks like Apache in this photo when Sam flipped it to black and white. He looks much older than he is. Worn and knowing. Believe me he is not! ;)
We continue to work through horsey stuff. I spoke to the person I got him from further and the whole picture came together quite nicely. It is amazing to me, the language of horse people. I realize that in being a first time horse buyer I asked ALL the right questions. I just did not "listen between the lines" the way someone like my girlfriend would, having been raised around horses and the horse world.
So, he had Koda for about six months (maybe a little more). They have about 30 head of horses/mules and basically he is a horse trader who gets horses and mules he thinks are sale worthy, gives them the basics and sells them. So the basics is what Takoda got and he caught the guy's eye because he is, in general, quiet and stable. Takoda didn't get much training from the first owner, apparently. He is quiet, yes. He (most of the time) is fairly calm, uses his brain and isn't flighty or scared easily. He is, however, a little fidgety (doesn't have a lot of patience when you are telling him to "just stand there") and since not much was expected of him consistently in the way of basic manners, he sometimes has none.
For instance, he doesn't understand why he shouldn't stand within two centimeters from you at all times. He stands that close to his friends so why not you? He doesn't get why it isn't acceptable to walk into you. If you want someone to move you walk into them, right? Feet? Bitch these are my feet and I need them so don't touch. The foot thing became absolutely clear when I was talking to horse trader and I said - I know he had shoes when you got him, do you know if he was worked with on the feet by the guy before you much? Trader didn't know, said probably not because when they are shod sometimes people just take that as "oh their feet are good" till the next time their shoes get changed. Interesting. But, if he was shod, obviously they used him for trails or something....you don't just put shoes on a horse to stick it in the field. He agreed. He said then - now, you know I got 30 head so I can't take the time to be individual with them all like the people I sell them to, you know that part of the bonding I leave for you all. Ah-ha! Answer - this horse has never had anyone mess with his feet in all of his seven years except when it was time to grab them up, rip current pair of shoes off, slap new pair on and pound nails into his hoof. How pleasant.
See what I mean about listening between the lines?
So, on we go. Working on all of this stuff from the starting point.
On the very positive side of all of this (and this is BIG), because he is a pretty quiet guy, even the bad experiences he has had don't seem to have made such a horrible impact that they can't be re-learned as good.
Even the scar on his mouth, (whatever happened was some time ago and no one seems to know exactly what caused the jagged, thin scaring. The only thing his new Vet could offer was that he wasn't able to 100% identify it but that "some people are not very kind to these guys when they are breaking them ya know". While this makes me fucking angry at the possibility it wasn't just an unexpected accident, it doesn't seem to have made him super distrustful or frightened.
So, in being pretty quiet and not really having been "trained" much, he is a clean slate for the most part. He is kinda like a two or three year old that you are just starting to work with in many ways, only he is a little older so a little more calm and he HAS had a tiny bit of practical experience.
We have ridden twice. Just in the arena with some new friends and they have been really helpful to us in that they incorporate him into the end or beginning of their rides. We play "follow the leader" just at the walk, pretending to be on the trail, walking over ground poles and weaving in and out of cone courses. Even the fact that he only plow reins is becoming a blessing in disguise because it allows me to go completely back to the beginning as well. It is straight forward, easy to concentrate on and I will actually be able to (with some guidance) train him to neck rein and move off the leg.
And as my girlfriend points out - what we learn will be our own. What a bond we will have as we move forward! It won't be "I got this horse and he knew everything" it will be - I taught this horse and we belong to each other.
In Loving Memory
...of the first horse to hold my heart