Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cash's Story

Cash came into my life after leasing Sunrise Stables, a small boarding facility in Canon City, in 2005. Her owner, Bill, was in his early eighties and had bought her at a show barn dispersal sale. The barn owner called her a "gate crasher", she had taken out his wife's front teeth by running into the gate. Her owner Bill used a monstrous gag bit on her. But he really enjoyed watching me playing with my Paint Gelding Harley and asked me to play with Cash for a couple months. And so I did, 60 days, an hour every day. Success and progress EVERY day. I was in heaven. What a cool horse! We had finished all the online and liberty (old) Level 2 tasks by the end of the second month. Cash was 8 years old then. She is by Doc Quixote Rio, a World Champion/Hall of Fame cutting horse. I think her dam won some money in cutting as well. I'm pretty sure they started her out to be a cutting or reining horse but never really found out anything about her past.

I started riding her towards the end of the 2 months and she was a lot of fun to ride as well. UNTIL I was playing with her one day with one rein and the carrotstick bareback and I asked her to turn into the fence. She really didn't want to and instead of stopping and then asking again I pushed her. Come on, you can do it, Cash! NOPE! I can't! was her answer and she trotted off. That's all it took. I was off balance and slipped off her back ending up with a 2 inch gash on my head and a compression fractured vertibrae. Yes, it was a learning experience that I really didn't want to add to my list...

I finally was back pain free after one and a half years. Meanwhile, Cash stood around, not doing anything and her owner Bill was asking me every month whether I'd like to buy her. "Bill, I already have 5 horses!" was my answer for about a year or so, until he offered me an irrestible deal: $1000 for Cash, $50 a month. Her sire's breeding fee was $2800. Who could resist?

So Cash became my horse sometime in 2006 or 2007, I really can't remember exactly when. JB came into my life around the same time, another boarder didn't want him anymore (green and green makes black and blue. You can read his story on my website). I ended up deciding for him to become my level's horse and so Cash turned again into a pasture ornament. I knew there would be a time where I had enough skills and confidence to play with her again.
When I first started playing with her she had some saddle and cinching issues. I thought I had fixed the problem, but I think we never got over the "tolerating" phase. When I started playing with her again at the beginning of 2009, she spooked when I saddled her and the saddle slipped. She zoomed off galloping around the arena with the saddle under her belly (I was just in the process of tightening the cinch). I was beside myself that I had not realized that she had gone RBI on me.
So, I made a commitment to get her over her saddle fears and do it right this time. For weeks I played with her on a daily basis with the bareback pad. Putting it on her back, letting her carry it around, unattached so it could slip off any time. Once she turned and faced the pad on the ground, I started to play with the rope around her belly and get her over her cinching anxiety. After a few weeks I started using the saddle. All along I played with her on the ground online and at liberty. Neither her nor me needed another wreck.

When I moved to Teri Sprague's place in Berthoud for a couple month I was riding her with the bareback pad and saddle on a daily basis. I preferred to stay at a walk and trot. After regaining my confidence cantering was still an issue and I wanted to set myself up for success. We were now playing solidly in Level 3 online and liberty and did basic Level 2 riding. Alltogether I probably spent 100 hours with her last year.

Then I participating in the Parelli 1Star Instructor course and after coming home both of my horses had contracted pigeon fever. They were both miserable and all I did was doctor them for over 10 weeks. Then I was offered a position at Parelli Central and my horses went on winter pasture at Springvalley Farm.

I missed them terribly over the winter only being able to visit once a month. So April came around. Dennis had bought me a trailer and fixed up the truck to haul (what an awesome boyfriend I have!!!)... Finally I was able to pick up my two guys and bring them home.

From April to the end of July I concentrated on doing simple things with excellence about 5 times a week. Being gone for 12 hours a day and working 7 days a week, I was probably able to play another 40 hours max with her during this time. I noticed that spending quality time really improved our relationship. I developed more and more draw. I concentrated on things like hanging out, haltering and farrier prep with excellence over the last few weeks. These were things that were "ok", but definitely could use some improvement.

I didn't have enough time to start riding again, but we practiced saddling and I was thrilled how quiet she was. Very cool! I was so happy to fix a problem that I had partially created myself in the first place.

So, when I had the opportunity to take Cash and JB on "vacation" with me, while I was traveling doing my lesson series, I was very excited and felt it was the right time to start riding again. She is an excellent traveler, she loads with ease and hauls with no issues. Cash also did great while having to change location 4 times during the last week. Now we are at Kris Hughes Springvalley Farm and we've been playing on a daily basis. Altoghether 5 hours so far.
I have been concentrating on riding prep (warm up strong to ride soft), transitions on a circle and overall softness and relaxation. I spent a couple hours going thru the new online Level 2 and 3 tasks and we are right there. We are bridling while I'm sitting and she does super well when mounting and dismounting. She has a little bit of a hard time standing still, she likes to go places. We are working on direct/indirect rein, 9 step back up and figure 8 at a walk and trot while riding. She licks and chews a lot and is very relaxed at a walk. Her trot is sometimes a little rushed, but nothing major. Yesterday, she scared herself with her own fart. It was kind of funny... The good news is I relaxed when she jumped forward and lifted the rein. She immediately stopped, let out a big sigh and licked and chewed and we finished with a very relaxed figure 8 at a trot. It does show me that we need to continue to work on relaxation. It also made me realize that my confidence is not as easy shaken anymore as it used to be. What a nice feeling! Cash switches from leftbrain to rightbrain in an instant. I think her performance breeding is part reason for her quickness, whether it's physical, mental or emotional. I will fill out a horsenality chart and post it soon.

I am watching my own confidence and I am very keen on setting myself up for success. As a goal for this week I would like some more relaxation at a lope while circling online and also an increase in her ability to just stand relaxed and wait while I'm on board. My goal for October is to take her trail riding.
I see how concentrating on JB has helped me grow. I learned from my sucess and failure with JB and I can be a better partner for Cash because of it. I feel I'm ready to bring another horse to Level 3 and I am quite excited about it....