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Very mentally mature....what else to DO with her?

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  • Very mentally mature....what else to DO with her?

    I have a just-turned-two year old who's (luckily for me) quite the old soul. We've been through the in hand show circuit, we've shaken plastic bags....took a bit like a champ, we've started ground driving and she's unamused and does it fantastically. Wears a saddle already comfortably and knows the basics of walk trot canter whoa on the lunge, although we don't do it for exercise. We also go on a neighborhood hand walk once a week, when we she can stand it.

    She is BORED! I have got to find some other way to break a sweat and keep her engaged. She is VERY mentally ready to ride but she's 16.2, almost 16.3 already and I don't want to run that risk if she's still very much growing. Through no skill on my own I just lucked into that horse who doesn't really need repetitive work or guidance on stuff...show her once, she's got it. Her only fault is not a lot of 'go' or heat in her, are there any 'forward thinking/forward moving' exercises I can do with her from the ground? I should just turn her out and 'let her be' and not overhandle her at two, but she is really people-oriented and wants that interaction every day. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Will she self-load? That's alwasy a nice skill. (By that I mean walk on the trailer without you having to lead her--assuming it is a straight load).

    What about crossing obstacles? Will she walk across a tarp? How does she feel about flags (which you may encounter if you ever share a show ground with a drill team--like at a state fair).

    I assume she is great for clipping, etc. already.

    You could teach her to ground tie.

    When she leads does she lag?

    Can you pony her off of another horse and go for mini trail rides?

    Get her used to standing still at the mounting block, even though you aren't getting on.

    Have you done any free jumping (little stuff I mean)? Walked over poles? etc.

    I'm sure I can think of more stuff. I know some of this is random, I'm just brainstorming here. I'm not sure how "forward" to get with a two year old...maybe someone else will have better ideas.
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


    • Original Poster

      I never even thought of ponying...aduuurh. That would be a fantastic option for her. You're a genius And doing tarps and things we haven't done, although great time to start. She does ground tie. We haven't done any jumping at all, she had a minor knee injury as a foal and I haven't even let her LOOK at a crosspoal until we re-do her xrays (in the next few months). I'm sure it will be fine but better safe than sorry. She has been turned out on 10+ acres of very hilly pasture for a year.


      • #4
        Every one of my youngsters has been exactly like yours - but it's not luck in my case, i am breeding *specifically* for that temperament.

        I would just continue alternating the things you're already doing - just because she's "got it" doesn't mean the repetition of things like handwalks and ground-driving isn't beneficial. Ground-drive her over poles, tarps, etc. Spend lots of quality time just grooming and hand-grazing/handwalking all over the place, this is great for cementing trust & a strong bond.

        Unless she is literally standing at the gate, pushing at it, all day long + every day, then i really don't think she is "yearning" for major mental stimulation every-single-day. And you don't "need" to find a way to "make her break a sweat". Trust me, I have stupidly friendly, molest-you-non-stop youngsters as well, and they don't *need* exercise/stimulation every single day. Now, if I let it go for a week or more? Yes, they might get bored and find "creative" outlets for their energy - usually involving destroying/degrading some part of the barn owner's property..

        Just keep doing what you're doing. It'll pay off big time!


        • #5
          We have a client who has a Harvard 2 year old like this, the other day when she shipped in for a lesson with another horse she brought the filly for the trip. The shipping boots, loading, shipping, unloading was great for her then during her lesson we left the filly in a stall in the training barn with no direct neighbours to "be a big girl." She was upset at first in the new barn when her friend left for the arena, then after about 20 mins settled, munched some hay and realized she was ok without anyone around to hold her hoof After she went on a hand walk around the new property was given lots of pets, loaded up and went home a more exposed, happy gal. It think this is a great exercise for the young ones. When a horse will not settle at a show it drains so much of their mental and physical energry that could go into the show ring!


          • #6
            Self-loading would be at the top of my list. When I found out that my horse self-loads, and got all the cues down, it was *so* relaxing... no more being squeezed in with the horse, worrying what she might do. And it's safe to load by yourself this way. A lot of customers would like that
            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


            • #7
              My Ideal gelding was this way. He was very smart and I'd taught him all I was willing to at age 2 so...I taught him tricks! He learned (way too quickly) to "shake" and bow. Also, doing obstacle courses is good. And turning them out with another active horse to play and interact with.

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              • #8
                Teach her to self load, definitely. Every type of trailer you can find, too! My Appy self loads into anything... In fact, you can point towards it and tell him, "go get on." and if he's listening, he will. It's great!

                If you want to be completely frivolous, teach her to fist bump. That's what I'm teaching my baby It's quite funny, and then if she's having a "no-power-in-heaven-or-hell-will-make-me-pick-up-this-foot" day, you can have her fist-bump then snatch it up! hehe
                Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                • #9
                  I've trained a couple youngsters like this, and yea, it's tough. I've set up obstacle courses (western trail class anyone?), gone to local fairs (often a different environment than line shows). Is there a parade you could get in on with a local barn? Does she self load? Will she open her mouth for the bit without your thumb in her mouth? Does she pick up her feet if you ask without touching? How about side passing over an obstacle? Will she help you put on her blanket? How about play fetch? Soccer?
                  Riding the winds of change

                  Heeling NRG Aussies
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                  • Original Poster

                    Self loading's a great idea. My trailer is rapidly becoming too small for her (too short, its an older one) but it won't stop me from maintaining her manners in it. Tricks might be fun but I will NEVER teach high five again after I taught it to my one eyed retired police horse (smartest animal on the earth) who'd clip you all the time with that leg on his blind side reaching out "Hey! Give me a treat! I got my leg out!" Like a kid trying to trip you. Ugh.

                    Thanks for the brainstorm!


                    • #11
                      All kinds of obstacle course stuff in hand....teach backing through L's, side passing over poles, forehand and haunches turns from the ground, going past things like hula hooping youngsters, kids with skate boards or bikes, 4 wheelers/ATVs, large farm equipment, noisy things (guns, firecrackers, flapping flags or that glittery fringe stuff like used car dealers have!), balloons, flapping umbrellas, exercise balls, crepe paper streamers....my poor babies just watch me come from the house with "oh gads, what does she have now that she thinks we will spook over? NOT!". Loading into any kind of trailer you can find, on her own. Twirl ropes around her, teach her to hobble, to one foot picket (it can save her life if she ever gets a foot caught in something). Take her to other barns or to local open shows....she doesn't have to show but it gives her the chance to see the hustle and bustle, be around other horses and remain focused on you, see the environment, hear the loud speakers and things like flags....great fun. If you can find farms with other farm animals...goats, llamas, cattle, pigs....take her for introductions. There is a book/DVD set called "Bringing Up Baby" done by John Lyons...has some great exercises in it for youngsters that will apply to later riding lessons...responding to pressure on hip, shoulder, backing on a verbal/hand cue, going over/through/around obstacles out at the end of a lunge line so they learn working at a distance from you is OK too....lots of good stuff. Of course, all this stuff may get you a horse that is more like a well broke QH in attitude....but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
                      Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                      Northern NV


                      • #12
                        Trailer her to trails, with a reliable friend and horse would be nice, and hand walk her on a variety of terrain. If you're a jogger you could do that too. Maybe it's time to start jogging if you're not lol

                        If you have/can get a bike, acclimate her at home at least to being led from that. Bikes can be skeery
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                        • #13
                          I'm planning on taking my baby to some 4-H style in hand trail classes


                          • #14
                            Why not just let her grow and handle her enough to reinforce manners? What is the rush? Obviously, she is going to be fine with whatever is presented to her, that kind of temperment is not likely to change. She might be big and able to deal with everything, but she is still a baby. Just throw her out, handle her as necessary and let her enjoy being a baby and grow up. You've really done plenty with her.


                            • Original Poster

                              I agree TKR it wouldn't be a bad thing to just cut her loose...and as a yearling I touched her only long enough to say "Hey you breathing? You dirty? Take a curry brush and adios" but for the past month or so, she literally wanders over to the fence and stands when she sees my car park near the pasture. It is unfortunate for her that she has not been around youngsters since she was about a year and a half, just has an old retiree to eat grass beside. (Although she's never been the playful, running bucking farting yipee type) I guess I feel since she's not playing or gallivanting it would be good for her to get some stimulation some how.

                              Don't mind the old "been there done that" QH mindset in the least coloredcowhorse, I wouldn't object to her turning into one of those XD We'll never be rocketing around in Grand Prix so I don't need the passion.

                              Love the advice JB, about bikes and jogging! I COULD make her my jogging buddy. Talk about neighborhood security...I'd feel pretty safe.


                              • #16
                                Cant you find her a friend who will play with her? She really has done enough, probably more than enough, for her age... A break would be good.
                                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by TKR View Post
                                  Why not just let her grow and handle her enough to reinforce manners? What is the rush? Obviously, she is going to be fine with whatever is presented to her, that kind of temperment is not likely to change. She might be big and able to deal with everything, but she is still a baby. Just throw her out, handle her as necessary and let her enjoy being a baby and grow up. You've really done plenty with her.
                                  Very well said Penny. They have to be horses too. What kind of company is she turned out with? You've done a great job with her so far and she will forget none of it.

                                  COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                  "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                                  • #18
                                    I see the company comment now. Well I have a yearling out with a 12 yo broodmare and a 7 yo pasture puff. She is a god send to those 2 lazy gits. I worried because for the first time I didn't have age appropriate company. And I thought the exact same thing as you. But your mare doesn't really have to be a horse because she has you to occupy her time.

                                    I don't think you're doing anything wrong, just that she needs to get used to being a baby too. She sounds like a really cool filly to own.

                                    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                    "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.