Last week, we talked about our babies. This week, let’s talk about our greenies. Who trained your horse? Is your ponykins still in the process of figuring out this whole monkey-on-my-back thing, did you send off for thirty or sixty or ninety days, or did you buy a horse with all the bells and whistles? Who has helped your horse become what he or she is today?
Ashke came to me at 7 years of age. The man who owned him prior to me had sent him to a cowboy trainer to break to ride for his youngest son. That man had Ashke for a couple of weeks and brought him back so sick he almost died. (Colic I believe, although the details were very fuzzy.) When the trainer returned him, he told the man I got him from that Ashke was "unbreakable". I believe, based on the physical issues he had (and my experience with western, cowboy dumbasses), that the cowboy trainer had run a rope around Ashke's hind legs and dropped him on the ground, injuring his hip and hamstring in the process.
He had still not been ridden when I brought him home and that was exactly as I wanted it. I trained a lot of horses when I was a kid. I wanted the opportunity to do so again with a horse as an adult. I wanted to build that relationship with a horse from beginning to end. One of the reasons I was okay with taking a horse with such physical issues is that he hadn't been started. All of our adventures have been chronicled in this blog.
Ashke, thankfully, was started well as a youngling. He was born at Arabians Ltd in Waco, TX and handled from the first day he was born. He may have been imprinted, I'm not sure, but I do know that he learned very young that humans were okay and meant to be trusted. He also learned to walk next to a human on halter, to stand tied, and to stay out of the human's bubble of space around them. This start gifted him with the ability to be friendly, curious and not usually afraid. It also means that any time things get scary, if I get off and hand walk, he trusts that everything will be okay.
I started Ashke. I was the first on his back. I was the first to ride him in the round pen, the outdoor arena, on trail, in a clinic and in a show. I taught him to give to the bit (mostly), to walk, trot and canter with a rider on his back. I taught him to back, to turn, to balance, to cross bridges, to maneuver obstacles and walk calmly past rocks (this one is always a challenge).
This horse, more than any before him, is my product. If there are issues, they are my responsibility. If there are problems, then they were caused by me. If he hasn't learned something yet, it is because I haven't taught it. If we fail at what we set out to try it is entirely my fault. If there is something he isn't good at, it's primarily because a) I
don't see the need to work on it, b) it bores us both to tears, or c) it
is still a work in progress. He is a reflection of me and of the time and energy we have both put into our relationship. He is my other half.