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(Sioux Indian for "Red Thunder")
click here for lots more photos!
enjoy 08/11 video of shappa long lining, then practicing her NO
rein stop while riding :)
plus classic 2009 videos pre
ready to ride" and "2nd/3rd rides"
||January 2009 -- Extreme Mustang Makeover Competitor (BLM
mustang, completely untouched)
||AVAILABLE to adopt, see below for details
|SPONSORSHIP: (Details below)
- FEED: needs a sponsor!
- MEDICAL: needs a sponsor!
||7-year old (2006 model) BLM Mustang Mare, Buck Bald
Nevada NV-403 HMA, 14.2hh (read
below the report card)
Freeze Branded 06596740; Title Granted and on File with BLM.
- Shappa finishing gaining
age 4 -- common for mustangs. She will not get any taller, but
she has broadened across her back and shoulders SIGNIFICANTLY during
summer 2010 and seems full grown as of spring 2011.
- She arrived 01/09 narrow chested and narrow
needed to gain additional weight. As of May 2009, she had not yet
shedding her winter coat. She finally shed out in early June 2009. she
shed normally in 2010 and 2011.
- She has no known health
problems or injuries at any time in her life.
- Her legs are in excellent
shape; her front hooves are flatter than ideal and while her hoof walls
are hard as with most mustangs, her natural shape isn't that usual
perfect 'barefoot mustang hoof'.
- She arrived with mild dental
issues -- difficulty losing her baby caps -- and for 2009 rode only
in a hackamore.
- spring 2011 update: Shappa
really matured physically and mentally in the last year. Her hooves
very healthy, just flatter than ideal; otherwise she is an
exceptionally easy keeper in
- Shappa used to be
unsure of herself, but has made truly great progress here. When
unsure, she plants her feet and doesn't want to go forward. She VERY
may try to push through a person if she is sincerely frightened of
- She will walk up and touch
tractors and other
large, "scary" machines.
- She doesn't mind traffic or
- She still occasionally tosses her head when
- She has very good balance
and knows EXACTLY where her hooves are -- and may intentionally step on
the side of your boot, for example, if she feels you aren't paying
adequate attention to her.
- Loves to work at liberty in
a round pen, including free jumping.
- LOVES to longline/ground
drive, particularly if there are challenges such as obstacles to avoid
and weave through/around.
- Shappa's riding work began
when she was 3 but not yet fully mature, due to the EMM contest
schedule. Even at 3, she had
for a horse who has approximately 50 rides.
- She leg yields nicely,
pivots on the forehand.
- Her trot is very well
balanced and easy to rate. Trots over ground rails with ease. Small
figure 8s, weaving serpentines, etc, are easy for Shappa at the trot.
She will trot to halt with glee, or will transition up and down to/from
- She is easy to rock
a canter, and she canters confidently on both leads.
- She does not bolt and she
steers easily, fluidly.
her ride videos hosted on YouTube:
- 2009: nearly ready to ride:
- 2009: 2nd/3rd ride:
- 2011: Shappa riding indoors, showing off her no
rein stop! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04zVrUbOSuI
- August 18, 2011 update: other critical cases at
CWER this spring and then the insane weather meant that Shappa did
almost no training work in 2011 until late August. We have now had
4 or 5
rides since spring, and have done 2 longline refresher sessions. She
continues to steer exceptionally well on long lines and to really enjoy
puzzles, weaving through courses, and other activities that focus her
mind. Under saddle, we are working walk/trot/canter, and her confidence
and enjoyment of what she is doing is evident in every ride.
- February 2012: Shappa has now done about a
dozen rides with multiple different upper intermediate and an
intermediate rider. With a skilled handler on the ground, Shappa is now
willing to help build trust in a rider, rather than keying solely on
the rider's confidence. In the past, if her rider were nervous, Shappa
was VERRRY nervous. Now she has confidence in herself under saddle and
will work forward even for a mildly unsure rider. Shappa has cantered
for an intermediate rider who is just learning to keep her seat and
balance at a canter, with a handler in the arena for confidence for
Shappa, and both horse and rider did well.
- Shappa has had 3 rides outdoors in large open
spaces, and although nervous she was managable and did work
walk/trot/canter without any upset.
- Fall 2012: Shappa spent the summer on foster at
a therapeutic riding program. Shappa was adored by the volunteers, and
rode VERY well for most riders; however, she still was unsure of
herself with a nervous or timid rider. She did not fully outgrow this
behavior and so returned to CWER. Shappa now has extensive experience
doing leadline rides as well as riding with early intermediate and
|Shappa now has extensive time doing arena work with a
variety of intermediate riders and handlers, as well as doing leadline
rides with ease for riders who are not timid or frighteend. She still
occasionally needs someone with both a confident and firm yet
patient hand. She matured significantly, and will make someone a
Her ideal career
would be in a job such as dressage or English showing, or with the
right trainer/partner a thinking sport such as competitive trail,
mounted orienteering, or working with cattle. She LOVES a mental
challenge, but needs a confident handler to help her with things she
sees as physical challenges or 'scary'.She would make a very capable
trail partner for an intermediate rider who is confident on the trails.
She LOVES to free jump and has very real potential there; she simply
needs a trainer to put the time with her to begin jumping with a rider.
We don't do jumping training at CWER or she undoubtedly would already
be doing so.
- Stalls easily, remains
relaxed as long as another horse is in the barn; will wait to go out
when others are gone.
- Mildly edgy if left alone in
a stall, but doesn't panic. Calls rarely.
- Waits to be led out when the
door is opened.
- Eats easily, doesn't pace,
crib or stall walk.
- Often handled by total
beginner volunteers for her normal routines.
- Loads easily, rarely refuses.
- Has trailered several times, rides fairly
quietly with other horses, has been trailered alone.
- Unloads well, ready to get down but backs off
/ Pasture Manners
- Shappa is not a leader, and
likes a clear alpha in her grouping.
- No longer herd
bound, she now goes off on her own and handles being left in a paddock
- Can try to be bossy,
but immediately backs down; not picked on much because she just avoids
- Comes when called, easy to
catch, truly loves people and attention, just not always sure how to
for Routine and Medical Care
- Farrier: B. Lifts front
hooves great but nervous about being on the stand; lifts rears nicely
but very tense about being on the stand.
- Shots: B. No fuss! Stands
with reasonable manners for vaccinations.
- Dental: A. VERY easily
sedated, remains calm even through extensive procedure.
- Worming: A. No fuss, doesn't
pull away, doesn't spit it out or drop or wipe it on handlers.
- Grooming: B. Good for
brushing and hoof cleaning, but gets mildly impatient.
- Ears -- A+, no
reaction to any handling (never tried to clip)
- Clipping -- C.
Handled clipping her brand like an old pro, but did not like having her
- Bathing -- B.
- Tying: B. She
stands tied well and doesn't test the try, but can get bored and
||Shappa came to CWER on her one year adoption
contract from the BLM. We have her final
papers, she now belongs to CWER and is able to adopt on a normal
11/19/12: As of November 2012, Shappa's adoption fee is $1,000, but if
adopter contracts for her by 12/1/12 and takes her home by 1/15/13, we
will decrease her adoption fee by $250.
For how to adopt,
please see our QnA page.
Overview: Shappa is a beautiful, graceful, well balanced mustang
mare who arrived as clearly the lowest on the pecking order of the 3
mustangs for the Extreme Mustang Makeover Midwest 2009. She was
obsessive about being with the other 2 mares. Shappa is clearly a very
bright little mare, and she enjoyed many of the games we played
together and was learning very quickly. About 4 weeks before the
Wisconsin contest, she panicked and threw AnnMarie when a baby tooth
shifted in her mouth and cut into her gums. This crash caused very real
fear in Shappa and a timidness for AnnMarie that was most frustrating
for the pair. At Wisconsin, Shappa was so timid outside Wakanda's
calming presence, she could barely lead. Since returning home, Shappa
was given a full year off to mature mentally and physically. As
of Fall 2010, Shappa has matured dramatically -- just as he back has
broadened, so too has her mind and her maturity. She is now riding very
well with an experienced partner, and she is ready for a new home with
the right rider, or to go on to additional training for a new home.
shappa no longer has any significant separation anxiety and is a very
sturdy bright mare.
2009 -- Shappa competed at the Extreme Mustang Makeover; CWER purchased
her at the auction and returned her to the farm, to simply have time
off to complete physically and mentally maturing.
2010 -- Shappa was given more than a year to simply be a horse. She was
required to follow the processes of every other horse here -- coming to
the barn twice daily for meals; handling vet/farrier/normal routines,
but Shappa wasn't required to work in any way or on any level.
Fall 2010 -- Shappa showed extensive interest in regular attention and
being 'the focus' again, so AnnMarie and Shappa did light work together
as time allowed, including several short rides, indoor and outdoors
both in round pens.
Spring 2011 -- several special needs cases have taken priority, and
Shappa is again 'enjoying being a horse' without any working
August 2011 -- As time and the weather are allowing, AnnMarie and
Shappa are again working. some lessons are simple round pen workouts;
some are long lining refresher lessons such as the new video posted
and others are under saddle. We hope to get more riding video of Shappa
posted in the next few weeks.
Jan 2012 -- shappa has been riding on and off all winter, not just with
Annmarie, but with several volunteers. It has been VERY good for Shappa
and she's made really nice progress. She is cantering indoors with any
of her current riders, doing obstacle courses and 'patterns' at walk
and trot, backing through Ls and similar mental challenges, and very
happy to do so. She is VERY ready for the right forever home.
Fall 2012 -- Shappa spent the summer at an exceptional therapeutic
riding program, and did a lot of work with leadline riders and early
intermediate riders. the volunteers adored her and she did VERY well so
long as her rider wasn't nervous or frightened. When a rider is
nervous, Shappa still gets mildly tense, and she did not get over this
behavior during her time there. Shappa would love having a special
needs student all her own to work with all the time, as well as a
variety of other riding careers.
enjoy 08/11 video of shappa long lining, then practicing her one
rein stop while riding :)
plus classic 2009 videos pre
ready to ride" and "2nd/3rd rides"
Shappa -- She is
very bright, very playful, rather foal like, definitely not dominant.
Her name is Sioux for red thunder and was the son of a famous chief --
a mediator who brought Sioux tribes together and chose not to become a
leader as his father had been..
|PRIOR HISTORY --
Extreme Mustang Makeover 2009!
hope you enjoy these posts from the Crosswinds free email list (see
cwer.org for details of how to join), during the time periods for the
Extreme Mustang Makeover 2009. AnnMarie worked hard to keep the
list current on the progress she and Shappa were making...
Shappa -- my gal
-- the smaller one who I expect to shed out into an exceptional copper
color. I love her build, but most of all I love her eyes and her
spirit. She is very low man on the totem pole among the mares, but
she's low like a foal not low like a submissive personality. Last night
I was within a foot of her shoulder several times during our hour of
work together. she is cautious but mostly she is playful. My work and
Tory's bball schedule make it so I am not getting as much time with her
as I would like, but I am pleased with the progress we are making.
She's also exceptionally fit. I have some concern she may have a
urinary infection based upon the smell of her urine, and we will get
that checked as soon as we are able.
||Shappa....this is my "red thunder" mare,
who acts a lot like a teenager...with her mind mostly on play time and
social interaction. Oh, and food, don't forget food! She and I are
getting to know one another and we both truly enjoy dancing together.
As of this evening, I can lay both hands on either side of her body
while stalled, or one hand on either side while loose in the round pen.
She responds to my voice when i enter the barn, and even when moving
away from me, she remains locked in, paying attention, and often turns
her head to me as if to ask 'so, what's next?"
|Day 12: 1/22/09
|Shappa, this is my girl, 'red
thunder'. we are taking our time, going easy. i only have about 15
minutes to spend with her in the morning about every other day, and
then at most an hour in the evening again about every other day. Then
we spend time on the weekends as i can manage around my other cwer
duties. Yet, we're still coming along nicely. This eve i shot a little
video of her in the round pen, eating grain from my hand, standing
unrestrained while i lay both hands flat on her left side,
rubbing/scratching her barrel, up across the top of her backbone,
forward onto her shoulder. In her stall, i can move her head using her
mustang tag which will be coming off soon. i can rub down her right
side and even onto the upper leg. she looks to me often now, and will
walk to me to eat grain out of a gloved hand or bowl or feed scoop.
today was a breakthrough -- my hand on her side is a calming force, and
she was unafraid of anything new i showed her today. she remains
playful and teenagerish and we're enjoying each other more and more
Shappa was a huge breakthrough for me
last night. After we played in the round pen, I went in her stall with
her to 'say goodnight'. For the first time, she REACHED her ribcage to
my hand, and found my hand as a calming force. She was so fantastic and
relaxed with me that I began the next stage...we take a cheap wintec
stirrup leather turned inside out to make a loop, and slip it over
their nose as a first step prior to a halter. she sniffed it, played
with it, and put her face in it for me on her own. in about 3 tries, i
was able to bring her head to me, ease her nose away, and even turn her
position with the loop. She started and stepped away from me only once
in the 10 minutes or so I was in her stall with her. It was a GREAT
time was short AGAIN this weekend, the time we did find together was
amazing. we've been working on just short movements from halter alone
for a few days now. Friday evening I put a short lead on her the first
time -- so short th at if her head is at normal height she cannot step
on it, and let go of the lead. She startled and spooked for a minute or
so,then stood perfectly still and waited for me to come to her and make
it better -- in fact she took several steps toward me, but was afraid
of it hanging and moving when she moved. I came up to her easily,
lifted the lead gently and to the side, and encouraged her to take a
few steps with me. In a matter of about 4 tries, we were walking the
length of the arena together!! soon, we were walking from one end to
the other and even playing a bit with the scary exercise ball.
practiced more time on the lead, and graduated to a normal length lead
rope. We also spent more time on front feet -- she holds them up for me
now and isn't panicky when I ask for them.We did more desensitizing,
including rubbing a saddle pad pretty much everywhere on her body
except her hind legs, and even slid up her neck until it was covering
one eye. She doesn't mind the upper half the surcingle at all, and
tolerates it even when a girth is hanging from it (we've not yet
fastened it). she will back sometimes, and she has already learned that
the slot between the mounting steps and the arena rail is a place for
rest. she will let me stand or kneel on the platform and rub her back,
set weight on her back, etc.
morning, on a soft cotton lunge line this time, Shappa got to take her
first trip outside. We followed Ennapay out and watched what she did
for a little while, then Ennapay went into the outdoor round pen to
relax while Shappa got to pose for photos. We trotted short jogs along
the drive and even played in some snow banks. Shappa managed to pull
out of my hands once after a spook, but went to the round pen gate to
her 'sisters' and was very good about being caught and handled further.
Finally she walked to her stall like a perfect lady on the lead,
halting when asked.I really like this little mare. Mike teases her,but
he likes her too. She's a bright girl who thinks long and hard about
things. she watches what the other mares do and is clearly jealous when
they get attention -- especially MY attention -- and she is not. She's
not a boss mare, but could grow up to be a lead mare. She is very
curious about things but also can be spooky at times.
Shappa is making fabulous progress. i am
soooo pleased with her.
She just learned to lead on Thursday.
Friday we were able to walk short distances on a lead inside the round
pen. Sunday morning we went for a walk out in the sunlight (see photo)
and had a fabulous time, including playing in the snow! yesterday
basketball got in the way of 'pony time'.
Tonight, when i got home, mike and Tory
had the entire herd fed and settled in for the night, so i could spend
my limited time just with Shappa. She met me at her stall door and
offered me her halter to snap on her lead. For the first time, we
walked up to the horse trailer (it is backed up to the door at the end
of the aisle way from their stalls). Shappa walked to about 2 strides
from it, and hesitated. i encouraged her forward, then let her see
there was a snack in a bowl inside the trailer. She walked right up to
the door, sniffed inside, and put a hoof up in. I gave her a small
reward and then moved the bowl to the front of the trailer and simply
caressed her neck. she eased forward, all the way up into he front
(slant load) stall, snorted a little. i did a flat hand on her side to
center her, and she immediately relaxed and rested with me. we turned
around and walked off, down the aisle, and back to the trailer. She put
one hoof on then stepped back. i talked to her easy, and forward she
acme, all the way in and resting in the trailer. we then backed off the
trailer oh so nicely together! she wouldn't back down the aisle, but
would back off the trailer, still a success. back up and on, turn
around, and off we go...no fuss, no muss. just another task mom asked
me to do.
back to the arena. first, lets rest at
the mounting steps. she stands in the slot and relaxes, knowing this is
a place to take a break and get loved on, maybe even have a snack. i
proceed to walk up the steps rather than just leaning across to rub on
her. she looks at me, thinks a second, and goes back to resting there
calm as can be. i'm standing essentially above but next to her, rubbing
down both sides, scratching her ers. she takes a step or two back, then
comes forward again when asked, without a care in the world about the
request. just easy.
ok, down off the stairs, lets do
something else. Ennapay had problems with her first visit with the
surcingle in that only one of the 2 straps got buckled so when she
startled and jumped forward it flopped and scared her further. So,
having had the surcingle just laying on Shappa numerous times now, this
time, i reached under and slid one strap onto a billet but did NOT
buckle it, i just held it loosely in place while I slid the second
billet into the buckle. just tight enough so it can't actually slide
aft on her belly and do anything scary, buckle both. no response.
praise, attention, loving, and a short walk. no concern other than an
ear flipped back now and then as if to say 'what is that thing still
doing there?" snug up just enough so it can't slide or roll, and
walking and trotting on the lead. she seems to have no interest in this
thing on her belly whatsoever.
i took the surcingle off and put it back
on 4 times tonight, always on from the 'near' side, off from her 'far'
side (she's less comfortable with me on her right side, so i try to do
the 'nice' things from the far side and the harder things from the near
side to balance her comfort level.) there was no upset whatsoever even
when i put it fully tight, as tight as i would do a girth to mount in a
we also worked on cleaning front hooves
and even stretching front legs forward as if to put on a hoof stand,
again with no concern.
our only real challenge of the night was
when we were working on leading from her off side. she still wants me
to pull her along instead of going forward on her own. i tried lunging
her from the right again to work on moving forward with me on this
side. she startled herself and hopped away, spinning around sot he
lunge was over her neck. i had to let go of her, and she did a half
lap, then stopped and all but walked up to me to 'fix it mom'. She was
a touch nervous, but easily let me unclip the lead, pull it out from
between her legs where she'd stepped over it, and with just a touch of
hesitation it was snapped back on her halter and we were leading again.
This is a very bright young lady. i'm
really pleased with how she is coming along. she thinks about allot of
things, and if given the time to think, she really makes good progress
at a great pace.
i have no timeline for shappa. we're
working at our own pace, and I'm very happy with how we are coming
along. i think she's going to be a pure joy to ride once we get there,
but i'm not going to rush that path...
"Join up" is a natural horsemanship term.
the basic concept is that the human is acting like the alpha horse in
the herd, sending the junior horse away (having them work at the rail
of the round pen) until the horse begins to show signs of respect and
courtesy -- lowered head, inside ear locked on the trainer, turning
head inward, asking to stop and come in, licking and chewing. when the
horse has relaxed, the trainer has the horse halt and then turns his
back to the horse. in a herd, the junior horse has to walk right up
behind the alpha, head lowered, accepting that the alpha is in charge
and stepping into the most dangerous place -- where those hind hooves
can kick and even kill -- and then follow the alpha horse back into the
herd. so, in our world, the trainer turns his/her back, and the horse
walks up behind the trainer, and then follows the trainer wherever s/he
walks, left right, cutting through the horse's path, etc. it is a
statement of respect and security when done properly and is a great
ground breaker and a staple of the basics of natural horsemanship.
for example, i'm teaching shappa to let
me pick her front feet. instead of any sort of tie or power struggle,
we stand in the center of the arena, no tie, no lead, perhaps even no
halter. i ask for her hoof. if she chooses she can leave -- but then
she has to work. horses are a lot like teenage kids, in general they
don't WANT to work and they would rather take the easiest route. pretty
soon she decides that standing calmly with my holding her hoof is way
easier than trotting 5 or 6 laps around the rail of the round pen.
to be sure we're clear -- i'm not chasing
her like a banshee. she isn't afraid of my lunge whip -- i can rub it
anywhere on her body at any time. it is just an extension of my arm,
making me 'bigger' and more horse sized to communicate well. unless she
acts aggressively toward me, i am not taking an aggressive 'predatory'
stance or making any effort to startle or frighten. i am just making
her work, and rewarding her when she makes the choice to be with me by
allowing her to rest.
I've been chastised recently for
admitting on a list that the first time i put a saddle on a
horse, the horse is completely at liberty (no halter etc), and i am not
securing the saddle to her back in any manner. if she startles and it
falls off, that's ok. i'm going to encourage her to come right back
and, ideally, to simply stay here when something falls off. this is a
good lesson as someday a rider WILL Fall off, it happens at some time
in essentially every horse's life. my horse is learning from day one
that this happens sometimes, its nothing to be afraid of, just rest
right here and mom will fix it in a moment. i also explained that we do
a saddle pad before the saddle, and also a surcingle that is tightened
snug enough to hold a saddle securely before a saddle is put in place.
the saddle also has no stirrups no girth no anything that the horse
could get tangled into....
||Shappa at the first mustang clinic:
Next came little Shappa, my little teenager of a personality. And, if
anyone has ever asked their young child to perform on command in front
guests, well, you understand then just how Shappa acted today. :)
Primarily the frustration with Shappa was that I was still talking on
while attempting to work with her, and she quickly became jealous. She
tried to nudge me and 'get my attention' and when that didn't work
acting more and more silly and pushy in hopes of regaining my full
attention. When she settled down and was reasonably respectful --
worked on a lead without doing anything new or different -- she was
allowed to return to her stall.
|3/1/09: not quite riding...
I uploaded Shappa's training video
from yesterday to youtube. It's nothing spectacular, but I thought
folks still might like a glimpse of where she is at halfway, day 50.
the brief rundown...
- her ground manners are very
good. she's easy to halter, comes when called, lets me walk up and
catch her at any time
- she's very good with all 4 feet,
although still nervous about the feel of a rasp
- she saddles without being tied,
with no fussing or concern about tightening her girth
- i can step up from the ground
and lay across her saddle without any concern
- she'll stand in the mounting
blocks and i can sit in her saddle, move her stirrups, etc.
- she lunges reasonably well but
not great, particularly going clockwise
- she loads and unloads from the
- she remains rather attached to
her mustang 'sisters', although we're making progress there
So, that's my pretty little girl.
i'm enjoying her enormously, and we're taking our time together.
Notes from a discussion about the video:
technically, it was a buck as she did
arch her back and popped her hind feet, but i dont think she even
cleared the sand to have the bottom of her hooves see daylight so no, i
don't really consider it a buck.
My weight is actually more balanced than
you might think. you can't really see in the video, but my rib cage is
actually on the right side of the saddle, so that my upper body mass is
on her right side whereas my legs and of course the weighted stirrup
are on her left. It undoubtedly isn't a perfect balance of my weight,
but it isn't too bad, esp since I weigh less than 125 lbs, so it isn't
a lot of an imbalance for a full sized 700+ lb horse to manage.
basically, i'm laid across her saddle as you would be in the midst of
mounting bareback, where you've got to get your own weight far enough
across the horse's back so you dont slide back down to the ground.
I've had horses respond like this
previously -- they just really aren't sure what i'm asking. So, I'll
step back down, and 'ground drive' again with me standing beside the
stirrup, so my voice and body are in a similar position and again click
and ask her to walk and reward her for doing so. then I'll try again.
we did get some forward movement in this session that's video taped,
but no real forward walking, all of it involved turns. I won't fully
mount and ask her to move forward with me astride her until she does
walk forward with me across her back.
||Had a fantastic evening with my little girl
tonight. I've been avoiding the first ride, worried that there was some
hole in Shappa's training thus far that would cause a troublesome first
round. She has been spooky sometimes about things on her right side,
and I sincerely worried that bringing my leg over the saddle might
cause her to spook or panic, and did all sorts of ground work and work
with the mounting blocks to try to ease that concern.
Tonight...with no lead and untied...Shappa stood fabulously to be
groomed, including cleaning all 4 feet.
She stood to be saddled, and cinched tight. She looks so sharp in my
dressage saddle, with that adorable little 20" girth (i couldn't
believe how tiny a girth she needs...my wintec dressage is intended for
warmbloods....) She held her head nicely to be bridled, and settles
into that hackamore so much more nicely than she did the bit. We'll get
back there at a later date. She ground drove with me at her shoulder
like an angel, halting and turning each direction and walking off
nicely (not perfect but more than adequate to know I would have control
from her back.)
And, as she's done for well over a week now, she stood perfectly while
I put my foot in the stirrup, stepped up, and laid across her side. So,
tonight, I swung the leg all the way across the saddle and sat for a 5
count. Stepped down, praised her to the moon!!, and stepped up again.
Sat, settled, deep cleansing breath. She looked at me like "so, are we
gonna do stuff or what?" I praised her and picked up that outside
stirrup very cautiously.
For the next 10 minutes or so, it was the shappa show. She was free to
walk wherever she chose, to back, to pivot, to stand still. As long as
she was calm and level headed, i let her lead. She can't rub me off on
the rails, we had that discussion. She can't get a drink from the water
tank. Otherwise, she set the rules as far as pace and direction.
We eased about the arena. Walking easy sometimes, sliding sideways or
pivoting others, backing some. Looking over her shoulder to ask for
treats, for encouragement, for comfort.
We took our time, and i praised her pretty much nonstop. kept my focus
entirely with her, and let her find her own way. And she didn't
When she eased away from the rail after a bit of frustration -- the
first that I truly steered and she rewarded my request with respect and
movement in the desired direction -- I stepped down, gave her a treat,
loved on her, and called it a night.
Shappa has had her first successful ride. Without any struggle, any
temper, and most of all, without any fear.
Can't wait for tomorrow night....hopefully we'll get some video or
photos to share...
|RIDE VIDEO -
rides 2 and 3 combined
||Shappa was terrific! rides 2 and 3 are together
on a single video now on youtube.
This morning we had ride 4. She was very much like ride 3 -- easy,
figuring it all out, moving forward well. We had several brief trots,
some about 1/2 lap of the indoor. When Mike went into Ennapay's stall,
Shappa was certain we were done. We had a bit of a discussion about her
needing to continue to walk when asked, but after 2-3 minutes, we were
walking easily, on a long rein, both directions, easy turns.
I'm so pleased with her. No real power struggles, no battles. Just easy
progress together. What a great, great girl!!
Shappa had ride
6 tonight (6? i think 6 :) i'm starting to lose count and I still have
Highlights of our evening:
- Shappa ate her
dinner in a stall in the pony barn, with Zoey as her neighbor,
completely away from the other 2 mustangs. This is the 3rd meal she's
had this way, and tonight she was relaxed and easy. She didn't even
fuss when I put Zoey out to her own pasture before coming to get
Shappa. Shappa did get antsy to get back to her own barn once I opened
her door, but remained reasonable and I didn't allow her to return to
her own barn until she was calm and respecting my space.
- We then went for a
walk outdoors, where she was more interested in eating grass than
looking for her mustang sisters. Again, big progress. i was very
- when we came into
the indoor, Mike was already riding Ennapay, just as we had planned. As
expected, Shappa didn't care at all that Ennapay was riding. She's seen
that, well, every time Ennapay has ridden, so no surprise. The
challenge tonight? For shappa to ride WITH Ennapay instead of waiting
until she was finished. We tacked up in Shappa's stall in Cheveyo's
barn without any fuss whatsoever, then walked into the arena. She
seemed to have little interest in Ennapay's presence, and stood
fabulously for me to mount. We then walked around the arena, keeping a
reasonable distance from Ennapay and while Shappa tried to hurry to
catch up to her once, crowding her a bit, she was exceptionally good.
- Now the next
challenge. continue riding without Ennapay. This i expected to be much
more difficult. yesterday when we went outside for a walk with Ennapay,
she was much less responsive to me and respectful than she is when we
go out alone, and when Ennapay went out of site she was quite worked up
over it. I anticipated similar behavior tonight. To my pleasure, she
walked to the gate when Ennapay walked out and into her own stall
(still in full visibility of shappa), and then went right back to work.
She stopped to sniff ennapay's saddle which was on the mounting steps,
then walked past even that oddity and continued her work. Mike took the
saddle out, and we continued riding.
- We trotted both
directions tonight, posting easily going counterclockwise and getting
enough energy and impulsion to comfortably post pieces of the arena
going clockwise. She is still less happy going clockwise -- still seems
to think that a monster lurks near the man door when going this
direction -- but otherwise was respectful and even eager at times. We
were able to walk figure 8s easily, and halt at any point.
- Mike came in with
my cell phone and I asked him to snap a few riding photos. we'll have
to see how they came out...we took shots standing, walking, and
trotting -- DID I MENTION THE TROTS WERE WITHOUT ANY REIN CONTACT? Her
reins were slack with me just holding at the buckle in case any
correction was needed, but we trotted the entire arena without any rein
contact more than once!!!
- He also snapped a
few brief cell phone video clips. hopefully they come out as well, AS
THEY INCLUDED AT LEAST ONE TROT TO HALT TRANSITION, AGAIN WITH NO REIN
CONTACT! The halt was simply by voice and weight request, without any
contact to her hackamore.
- Next, we did our
first backing up under saddle tonight. Initially she was irritated at
the request, but once she realized what i wanted and that doing so
earned her praise, she was happy and clearly proud of herself to have
- Finally, shappa had
her first trim tonight. Her one very unmustang-like trait is that she
has poorly shaped front hooves. She has underrun heels and oddly flared
flat toes. Tonight, she let mike pare back her soles, use the nippers
to trim back her hoof walls at the toe to the quarters, use the rasp to
sand it all smooth and to specifically trim her heels to bring her
contact point back, and then even put each front hoof on the hoof stand
and allowed him to rasp the front of her feet without any significant
fuss!!! She didn't yank either hoof back, not even once. She didn't
dance or stomp or throw her head or show any other signs of upset other
than diving toward her hay. I wish most of our rescues trimmed half so
well on their first official trim!! I was thrilled with how she did,
and her feet look significantly better. I don't believe she'll be
upright and 'normal' by Wisconsin, but she'll be significantly better
than she is now. I'm curious to see if she feels any different under
saddle with this change in her pastern angle and her having a
nice break over to roll her toes instead of her current motion of
mildly 'tossing' her hooves forward kind of like someone with a stiff
is really a joy for me. She's the type of horse I click with best -- a
passionate horse who shows her emotion and visibly blossoms under
praise and positive attention. She is light in my hands already and
responsive to small gentle requests, clearly eager to please. She's
flighty -- that seems to come with this type of personality or perhaps
how i train with this type of personality or, perhaps, even more simply
from my own nerves. But she's also eager and playful and passionate and
just plain fun.
||A brief visit to Pemberly Stables in preparation
for the next mustang clinic...
Well, today we drove to Pemberley again -- the barn that was kind
enough to host the first mustang clinic and will be hosting the 2nd on
4/4...this time with just 2 mustangs in the trailer. Why 2 you, ask?
well, simple...we were picking up a horse to come into CWER..and
rather than take an empty run, we took advantage of the chance to
expose Shappa and Wakanda to the big indoor arena again.
Shappa did really well there today. She was respectful and well
mannered for most of the time (spooked while saddling and Tory
had to catch her, but those things happen....), and we rode for about
15minutes, walk and trot, I was really very pleased with how she
behaved! She also got to have her feet trimmed by the regions premier
farrier, Mike Finn aka SuperMike, and our Mike got some additional
advice on how to help recover her unusually flat feet in a fairly short
time period. She already looks significantly better. I'm embarrassed to
say she did NOT behave particularly well for SuperMike -- I will blame
it on her being nervous at having a stranger handle her feet. Sigh.
||Ennapay has been diagnosed with Sand problems
luckily not so bad to cause a full blown sand colic. Shappa is also
exhibiting signs of sand issues. She is also on the bran mash and has
not ridden since last Wednesday -- the day Ennapay had her panic, and
Shappa had one of her own not nearly so severe. tomorrow she gets a
dental and a chiropractic check and like Ennapay we will look to Doc
for other ideas to bring her along.
in the mean time, shappa and i continue to play with our ground work.
She is such a joy to me. She handles all 4 feet with ease, and
loves to pose on
her circus stand! She trots on a lead without any thought, and backs
with ease in most cases. We've been practicing a mock up of last
hand course, and she handles all the obstacles neatly. She also enjoys
jumping at liberty in the round pen, which is a fun distraction for
load on the trailer easily. she enjoys her time in the outdoor round
pen now and understands hot electric rope. She still gets nervous away
her 'sisters', but has made good progress in going off alone. She, too,
laps up her mash happily each night! she has less sand in her stools
Ennapay but there is still some visible sand.
Shappa seems to be doing better. we had a
dental done the other day, and she was losing a cap off a molar that
was pushing into her gum right behind her bit. so that, too, could've
caused the bizarre panic attack she had the other day. We are
putting the Sand Clear in their mashes -- a 5qt scoop of wheat bran, 2
little cup scoops that come in it of sand clear, their regular grain,
and a large quantity of water -- once per day for 7 days -- is what the
doctor ordered. we are seeing sand in their stools, but not large
quantities of it.
||(Written by cotrainer Mike Cross...)
So for something different I
thought I would give an update for Shappa. A week and a half ago on the
same day that we took Ennapay to the vet hospital AnnMarie came off
Shappa when Shappa panicked. It took a week for us to
figure out why it happened. AnnMarie was using a bit for just the
second time; usually she rides in a hackamore. Dr King did a dental on
Shappa this past wed and found that the tooth that the bit would rest
next to was so loose he pulled the cap of the tooth off with his
Could you imagine what it would feel like to have a piece of metal
banging on a loose tooth? I know I would do whatever it takes to not
let that keep happening to my mouth. Dr King fixed Shappas
mouth and did chiropractic on her and gave her a clean bill of health
to ride. AnnMarie had taken a few days off after this happened. With
the clean bill of health she got back to training.
We have an
outdoor in hand course set up that AnnMarie/Shappa have been doing
fantastic. This past Friday morning AnnMarie tried to get herself to
get back on Shappa. AnnMarie was timid and it was scaring Shappa.
Shappa has learned to trust AnnMarie as a leader. If AnnMarie is scared
of something then Shappa has to be on alert. When AnnMarie took her
outside to do the hand course Shappa was in a panic. She was fighting
AnnMarie over even the easiest things. It was heart breaking for me to
see this happening. Shappa went from being a star to not being able to
perform at all. AnnMarie kept trying for half an hour or so.
within ear shot if she needed me but was not watching them on purpose.
When I did go out and look AnnMarie was sitting on a wood stack while
Shappa was eating grass on the end of the lead rope. When I asked
AnnMarie what was wrong she answered with tears in her eyes
“Shappa has lost trust in me”. It is very seldom that
AnnMarie does not have a very clear picture of what’s going on
with a horse. I suggested that it was not Shappa that lost faith in her
but AnnMarie lost faith in Shappa. When AnnMarie went to ride her
AnnMarie was not trusting her and Shappa could not figure out why.
For the first
since the mustangs arrived I asked AnnMarie if I could work Shappa. It
took a few minutes but Shappa responded to my confidence and trusted
me. She was able to do most of the in hand course pretty well. Not
close to how she does for AnnMarie but pretty well.
AnnMarie was able
to pull herself back together and be the strong leader for Shappa and
Shappa responded well. AnnMarie was able to work Shappa through all of
the in hand course better than I was able to. They were not back to
100% but Shappa was back to trusting AnnMarie.
AnnMarie rode Shappa again. Shappa was pretty comfortable but AnnMarie
was still uptight. It was enlightening to see how much Shappa picked up
on AnnMaries confidence. AnnMarie was nervous about the corner where
she had come off so she avoided it. Because AnnMarie was not
comfortable going there Shappa was also uncomfortable. The connection
between the two of them is very strong. The ride was tense but went
The next night I
got to watch the two of them play in the arena. Not work just playing
with each other. When AnnMarie went out of the round pen and put her
saddle on the rails Shappa stood next to the saddle pretty much saying
she was ready. This ride AnnMaries confidence was back and Shappa
responded in kind. Shappa had her fearless leader back and AnnMarie had
her student asking to learn. If AnnMarie had tears telling me that
Shappa lost trust in her I had tears watching the two of them trust
each other again.
AnnMarie had to
look deep into herself to trust Shappa again. Once she put on the brave
face Shappa responded in kind.
||4/3/09: Shappa had a big day today. I was off
work and we took Shappa and Wakanda to Pemberley for practice time
before tomorrow's clinic. (Hope you can join us!!)
We began with my walking shappa in the indoor while Wakanda rested in
the loaned stall. Then, already saddled, i mounted and just started to
ride her when a boarder joined us in the arena. Shappa was fussy about
her mounting her horse, but then settled and did better. She was antsy
and re ally wanted to go get up close and personal with the beautiful
Morgan mare Mimi, but for the most part she listened well and we
continued our trot work. We had a minor mishap when i took my coat off,
but otherwise she did reasonably well with Mimi in the arena. We did a
lot of trot work and tried unsuccessfully to not get into Sandy and
Mimi's way. I then dismounted and led shappa around a while, while mike
rode Wakanda in the arena. they did very well together.
after Wakanda was done, and I'd had a rest, i got shappa out again. we
walked through the wash stall, visited strange horses, explored the
4wheeler, and then saddled up and returned to the arena. this time we
worked alone for about 20 minutes. shappa continued to argue about
going in certain places, but there was no longer ANY fear, it was
simply teenage disobedience.
going counterclockwise, i asked, and was fabulously rewarded with the
most balanced first canter pickup any horse has EVER given me. so
fabulous, in fact that i was awestruck and had her stop after about 3
strides just to praise her and love on her. it was gorgeous! balanced,
easy, level, fairly collected on the entry, no running into it. WOW.
did i mention wow? we did 6 or 7 more short canters in this direction,
most with similar or nearly as nice departs and all with very nice,
very controlled transitions down to either walk or halt.
we were still struggling to work clockwise, and so we didnt do any real
canter departs going clockwise today. perhaps tomorrow, we'll have to
later today, back at home, i made shappa do round pen at liberty work
with no other horses in the barn. this was new and quite challenging
I'd hoped to maybe ride her in that configuration, but not yet. for
now, just being able to hold her attention to do very basic free
lunging was enough. mike brought Wakanda inside, and shappa immediately
settled into our normal routine and for most of the time rode
exceptionally well. we
again had several brief canters, with not quiet as nice a depart and
with her tending to drop her inside shoulder and lean in working in our
mike went outside and got his new lawn chair, and set it down and sat
in it in the aisle in front of the small sliding door. this was one of
the scariest things shappa has ever seen. it took us roughly 10
minutes, me still riding, to get her where she would walk over to the
arena gate and go
see her dad. before then it was 2, 3, 5 steps out of the far corner by
the sawdust, and ease/back/fidget/fuss or walk back to the corner, then
gradually larger circles and ease her way up. she was clearly afraid or
uncomfortable and not just being disobedient, so we worked our way
through it slowly and cautiously.
this evening, shappa stayed indoors alone while the other horses got
fed. she was anxious and noisy, but not unruly or at risk of hurting
herself. after about an hour i took her out on a lead. for the first
time since my crash 2 weeks ago, i had the old shappa back. she was
respectful, careful, ladylike, responsive. we still had a few little
hiccups, but among other things, she loaded herself on the trailer like
an old pro. well, like herself 4 weeks ago when we first went to
i'm looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how she does with our crowd.
with any luck, we will do a brief at liberty demonstration with an extra
safety fence in place. i'm hoping we'll be cantering for our crowd as
well. Wakanda may show off her newest trick also...you'll have to be
there, or wait for the "review" post event, to hear about it!!!4/3/09
|4/5/09 Pemberley Clinic #2
||For those who aren't up to speed on Shappa and my
progress, allow me to provide a little background. Shappa is a petite,
immature (physically, emotionally, mentally), gorgeous little
sorrel ustang mare who turns 3 sometime before 7/27/09 (she was
captured on 7/27/06 with her dam -- this
particular gather doesn't give an estimated age at time of capture.)
She's been with us approximately 85 days. My training approach with her
more like the dancer who takes the lead in a waltz than as a 'dominant'
or 'true alpha'. We were dancing at liberty in the round pen together,
and play and truly enjoy one another, and our inhand work was far ahead
of mike's girls, our riding just starting to really come together.
Then, 2 1/2 weeks ago, we had a massive setback. We know now that she
was losing one of her molar caps just behind the bit. She startled and
jumped forward at something and I tugged the rein to halt her. It
must've hit the tooth and obviously that would be both painful and
exploded, tossing me into the round pen fence and bolting away. It was
a week before doc could come see her and we could get answers as to
what had happened, and longer than that before my legs (which hit the
fence) were up to being in the saddle again. During that week, Shappa
and I both
lost confidence in each other and in ourselves. In the mean time, we
worked at liberty in the round pen, and we both became secure again in
another in that setting but not in any other. After her dental work,
doc cleared her to ride, but at first i couldn't get myself back in the
We finally got back riding, and our riding was coming back together at
an ok pace, early this week, but anything we did outside the round pen
remained a mess. I could barely lead her outside the barn. Outdoors,
Shappa had decided that perhaps it was time SHE was the lead partner in
our dances yet she also remained the fragile submissive personality of
the lower half of any herd's hierarchy, terrified of being alone and
even more afraid of being almost alone -- being with me who she didn't
trust to lead her. She'd become a very bad actor outside, and we were
really struggling to fix it.
Thursday evening, I left shappa indoors in the round pen alone, taking
her 2 equine alphas away from her. we worked at liberty, and then I left
her indoors alone for about an hour. I came back out, put a lead on
her, and asked her to come outside and behave. She began like the old
shappa -- eager, forward, happy to be with someone and to not be stuck
indoors alone. When she got snippy, I insisted she return to the indoor
round pen and sent her to the rail at a canter. In a minute, she was
licking and chewing, head low, ears locked on me, begging to rejoin me.
Everything about her saying, "please don't leave me in here by myself
again. I'm sorry."
We went back outdoors, and proceeded to complete the entire practice in
hand course outside without a misstep. We loaded on and off the trailer
times, each without hesitation. It seemed perhaps we were back to where
we had been before. She could see her sisters -- they were in Miata's
paddock -- but they weren't close and she kept her focus with me
whenever I reminded her to do so. It appeared we might just be back on
Yesterday, we took Shappa and Wakanda to Pemberley and had a practice
session before today's clinic. Shappa got it together and even had her
first canter! She wasn't perfect, but she did well. OK...now that
I finished that diatribe, lets get to today...! :)
We arrived at Pemberley a little over an hour early, backed the trailer
into the doorway to be used for the inhand course practice, set up some
of the other course obstacles. the great people at Pemberley were kind
enough to already have our hay divider in place and a row of bales as
up as well. I took shappa into the arena, briefly did a bit of inhand,
tacked up and rode. She was very spooky about the trailer being in the
doorway and about being able to see glimpses of movement and action
outside, but she settled in and was ridable, better than i thought she
might be when we first began the riding time. we practiced the inhand
course once to be sure i knew what it was, and got ready for the clinic.
mike did the introductions and spoke briefly about the contest, about
our goals with the clinic, and about each horse's story. I brought
shappa in and
we began with a few of our freestyle tricks -- posing on the circus
stand, pivoting 360 on the circus stand, stepping just front feet off
and holding, and playing on the bridge including having it set up as a
teeter totter. Shappa handled these tasks well. She also did well
through the inhand course, hesitating to get onto the
trailer but completing it quite nicely after all, and
fussing a little at the L before backing through impressively. She also
did both of her 360's in an OK manner, one of which showing nice form
and style and the other drifting to about twice the desired space. Oh
well. All in all, she kept her focus with me and I was quite pleased
with her in hand performance.
Unfortunately, she continues to dislike it when I am talking to humans
instead of paying attention to her, so as I tried to answer questions,
she tried nudging, searching my pockets, and even threatened to step on
my foot once. We got to talk about how we make her respect our personal
without getting hysterical with her or allowing her to get hysterical
After Wakanda's inhand time (mike gets to tell you about wakanda's
day), it was time for Shappa's ridden course. She was antsy for
saddling, and I
knew we were going to face some challenges. Unlike we'll be able to do
at the real contest, i took a bit of warm up ride time in the arena,
trot the figure 8s and a few other steps until she calmed down more.
Once she was better focused, we began our test. She trotted the figure
8 reasonably despite my getting confused about the course; our canter
depart left much to be desired, but we did get a correct lead and did
canter circle. When i requested she come down to a trot to not canter
the other direction (we're not there yet), she halted instead and we
had a bit of
a discussion before trotting on to the next obstacle. she halted
beautifully then fussed through the pivot, then trotted the poles where
i was hoping no one -- particularly not my imaginary judge -- could
notice that she was actually horribly bent left to keep her from
rushing back toward the 'familiar end' of the arena. :) We then trotted
to the bridge, road across the bridge with ease, and went into the L.
This time she halted as asked in the L, backed through admirably, and
had completed her ridden class.
If we pretend the warm up time never happened, we would've zeroed the
lead change, the canter to the cone, and possibly the pivot at the
cone. the other maneuvers were scorable. I was actually uite
pleasantly surprised. Given the challenges of the last 2 weeks, I'd
been trying to prepare myself mentally for the possibility that at
Wisconsin we'll fail to even begin the ridden class. I think, now, that
it is definitely possible that she may succeed in allowing me to
mount and ride at least some of the test's maneuvers without any
hysterics or that very real fear that overcomes her sometimes.
We talked awhile about freestyle, and I explained my planned, rather
unconventional freestyle. I reminded folks that shappa and I have no
expectation whatsoever of winning this thing. it'll be amazing if we
make it into the free; if we do not, well that's perfectly ok. but if
we do, knowing i can't do anything with a massive wow factor (the
winner at Texas this year rode his horse up a teeter totter and halted,
standing half way through a ring of fire!), shappa and i intend to show
folks that we enjoy one another and that we can have FUN together. So,
my intended free involves 1 1/2 minutes of at liberty work -- with a
strand of electric fence cutting the arena length to about 1/4 its
normal size -- and with several obstacles, including our bridge, a
small jump that is NOT placed against the rail, several ground poles
again not against the rail and, of course, no freestyle work for shappa
would be complete without her "safe place" -- standing proudly atop the
circus stand. Once the at liberty is completed, assuming she's got a
brain and it happens to be focused upon me, I intend to mount and spend
the last roughly 2 minutes doing simple walk trot canter work and
showing the very basic lateral maneuvers that a young dressage mount
just 40 days into riding training would be VERY proud to be able to
display. With any luck, we'll have fun and we'll get to show folks that
in this 100 day regimen there is time to -- and value in -- enjoying
these horses' own personalities and letting them shine through.
With all that discussion done (there was no way to set up there to do
the at liberty safely), Shappa and i simply did another brief ride,
demonstrating the leg yields she is now doing with ease and then
attempting but failing to demonstrate that, when focused, she has the
most balanced gorgeous canter transition any youngster could ever hope
for. She seemed to have fun, and folks said they enjoyed watching her
work and play. It was an honor to have an upper level dressage rider
tell me that my little mare has excellent balance and that her leg
yields were balanced and proper and impressive. :) i was beaming!!
We spent the last 45 minutes or so horseless, and simply discussing
safety and training issues. Folks asked some fabulous questions,
some of which
are just so hard to answer when you can't demonstrate what you mean. We
discussed at length the difference between being alpha and being a
bully, and how what we do is much closer to a democracy and asking the
horses to trust us and elect us leader rather than threatening to beat
them to death if they choose not to do so. We talked about personality
and allowing who a horse is to shine through, and mike and i shared
numerous stories, quite proudly, of matching the right horse with the
right human and hearing stories years later of how fabulous they are
together. we explained our philosophy and why ownership stays with us
for 6 months, and told stories of horses who came back to CWER and why
we are not only willing but anxious to let an adopter return a horse
home if the problem is a fundamental one rather than a matter of owner
education or mild changes in circumstances.
Finally, we shared that I hope to purchase shappa at Wisconsin and
return her to CWER. Either she will grow to become my life partner and
be a permanent resident and ambassador for CWER and for the mustang
programs, or if we don't find that to be a long term fit, then she will
simply have time to finish maturing physically, to go farther with her
training and expand her world at a pace she can understand, and then we
will work to find her
the right partner -- rather than risking her selling at the auction to
someone who won't be patient with her and who will mistake her fear for
disobedience and turn into a nightmare for horse and human both.
Several folks have offered to help with Shappa's purchase price at
Wisconsin. What we are asking is for folks to pledge an amount they
would be comfortable putting up -- whether that is $25 or $250. This
will give us an idea of the budget we can tackle to win her at the
auction. Then, when we get home, we will let people know her actual
purchase cost and will work out a reasonable way to balance folks
donations. Or, if folks are willing, you could choose to donate
whatever isn't needed for Shappa to go toward Ennapay's expenses. Her
medical bills thus far have topped $1,000 and we know we've not seen
the end of it yet.
Well, that was our big day today! We sure had a great time and we can't
say enough thank yours to Denise and everyone at Pemberley for having
us, for donating the facility space and the time, the helping
hands and even covering the county permit costs and so on to allow us
to do this fundraiser. It means the world to us.
||Shappa has been panicked since arriving at
We spent sever hours with shappa this am and it paid off. Mike held her
in the holding area until it was time. I led her in to the body
condition judge and she screamed the whole time but we kept moving
forward... Huge progress over last night. We entered the big arena and
she danced a bit but was ok. Maybe just maybe we will do this.
The tears were dripping off my face as we succeeded thru the poles n
into the shoot to back. We overshot n had to start over but she backed
the l where atleasr 5 others did not. We overshot the serpentine
but succeeded and loaded the trailer very well. She fussed for one hoof
and finished the course...me bawling all the way. I was so proud of her!
She just might ride tomorrow... And if she does not its all ok...
|4/22/09 -- EMM (extreme mustang makeover) contest
The writeup the day
after we got home...NOW on to Wisconsin:
When we arrived
Thursday, it was immediately clear that Shappa was overwhelmed by teh
surroundings. Thursday eve, with limited people around, she was still
afraid inside the inhand couirse area, the samller
indoor arena -- barely able to lead, let alone handle any
obstacles. When strange horses were there, she was panicky. Friday
at TWO OCLOCK (2am!!) mike was back at the fairgrounds,
taking shappa for walks all over, trying to help her get over her
fears. He worked with a variety of approaches, and had her managable
before he ever brought me back to the barn. When he took
me to the barns at 6am, she'd come light years from wehre she'd been
the evening before. He handled her all morning until it was time for me
to enter the arena.
When it was time for
the inhand class, I had doubts whether shappa would even enter the
arena. Mike did his best to keep her calm until it was our turn --
handling her himself, walking her, calming her, reminding her that she
knew what to do. Once I had her into the arena, Shappa fidgeted the
entire time for the body scoring while the horse before us completed
the test, and never really stood still, but she wasn't panicked or
screaching, just firmly whinnying to anyone who would answer her.
Our turn came, and
we entered the arena. she walked through the gate with a modicum
of sanity, and i thought, wow, we're actually going to pull this off.
- I saluted our
judges and we walked the first obstacle without panic.
- We trotted to the
second obstacle, but sh was distracted and trotted right out the end of
it, so we had to circle and return. That's ok! try agian.
- she halted and
backed surprisingly nicely, then trotted out well.
- i considered
switching sides to lead her through the cones from her right due to the
hard right turn at the first cone, but was unsure she'd handle that
change (we did things like that a lot in practice), so i didn't try.
- She was losing
focus and pushed past the first cone, forcing me to stop her completely
to make the turn, but she completed the cones.
- At the trailer, she
hopped her front feet on, hesitated, and got in!! she turned 180, and
let me sing to her a moment so we got a 3 count inside the trailer. we
were both too uptight ot even think about our 'trick' of stepping just
front hooves off and pausing. we were off the trailer.
- next was hooves.
she was distracted but standing for her first feet, but pivoted about
120 degrees before allowing me to pick up the right side. agian, better
htan i could've hoped for how panicked she was the night before.
- walk over th jump
rail that was rised 6" off the floor, no problem.
- entered the box to
do our pivots. they weren't perfect, but she gave me the pivot to the
right without trying to blow past me.
- exit the box, trot
to the cone, halt. WE GOT A PERFECT SCORE from one judge for this
manuever !! :)))) she even allowed me to salute our judges.
Did i mention i was both smiling ear to ear and
bawling the entire test??? i was just so thrilled that she tried for
We placed 18th in
hand, and 25th when including our body scoring. shappa scored as a 4-5
heneke score, which was worth 30 points less than a 5-6, the desired
scoring. The points differences for that is huge and really
insurmountable, but outside my control. We put weight on her as fast as
we felt we safely could, particularly given that she's still growing,
losing teeth, and often nervous and pacing off feed.
THE REST OF THE
I took shappa for
walk after walk, all day friday. Mike often had to help me get her out
of her barn, but we managed, 10 minutes here, an hour there. get her
used to the grounds as much as possible. show her all sorts of things.
Ironically, she would touch the most unusual tractors, carriages, first
aid vehicles, 4wheelers -- but try to lead her down an aisle?
even inside her own barn, she would simply plant her feet
like an obstinate child and choose not to walk forward any longer,
either going to or from her stall, wtih no apparent rhyme or reason. it
didnt seem to be a psychological freeze but rather her way of
expressing her displeasure at being here. i did all i could to make her
comfortable, and to try to ease her fears. mike put a ton of work into
helping with her on friday, and i can't thank him enough for it.
while everyone was at the rodeo in the big arena, shappa and i had a
brief ride in the smaller arena. with wakanda in range, she gave me a
very normal ride; without wakanda, she was panicked and flighty and
there was no way i could've gotten a ride safely. it wasn't looking
great for riding staurday morning, but perhaps it would be as friday
morning had been.
came, with shappa and i riding long before wakanda. no idea how she
would do. i felt fairly sure that if she walked into the arena calmly
enough to realize it was just another show ring (like going to
pemberley), then she would be capable of riding her test reasonably and
most importantly safely. If she got panicked in the shoots, then we
would never be able to mount or ride.
We entered the
arena, and she was realistic, managable! she was actually going to do
this, i was in tears of joy again, and working to keep us both calm.
she walked to the mounting block and posed perfectly beside it. at
home, we use the mounting block maybe 1 ride in 10, and only if she
settles next to it calmly on her own or if it is something i'm
specifically working on that day. she settled in nicely, and i figured
i might as well use it. As i stepped onto the top step of teh block, it
rocked toward her and back again. So overwhelmed with the excitement,
my brain was shut down and instead of thinking, stepping awya, an
starting over, i tried to hop up quickly as it rolled toward her. Of
cousre, she hopped away from both this odd blue plastic 'thing' coming
at her hooves and at mom moving in a very odd manner. she hopped over
the block as i landed on my rump in the sand, and proceeded to trot
over to the judges, not coming to me when called as she normally would
I brought her back
over to the mounting area, and picked up her reins. She danced away. i
stroked her neck and tried again. this time she danced into me, a
dangerous sign that i didn't have her attention at all. i rubbed her
neck, pulled her reins over her head, and lead her through the course
on foot, tears rolling in disappointment not at my little girl but in
myself for having been sloppy and rushed and causing her this fear
right now. She did all i asked in pattern, even halting on the bridge a
moment at my request, and even 2-3 canter strides as we ran across the
arena. I negelcted to do the final spins, as i was trying to convince
myself i had the confidence to take her into the freestyle area and
simply mount and dismopunt as my 2 freestyle moves. i waivered
repeatedly, trying to decide, and finally asked shappa. i stood beside
her and set one hand on her saddle, she sidestepped away and then
nudged me to move forward, to go. she knew i wasn't capable of it, and
she told me not to make the mistake.
And so i have the
dubious honor of being the only rider to 'fall off' her horse all
weekend. (four others failed to ride as well.)
THE REST OF THE
Shappa was friendly
and social with guests all weekend, happily visiting with people while
she was in her stall. at times she got restless, and we would go
walking when the crowds were smaller and in areas where there weren't
large #s of people. lots of folks talked to me about my little girl and
i got to explain the challenges we've had and what had caused the
problems during our tests.
Shappa and I
continued to walk off the weekend, with progress in some areas and new
frustrations in others.
By time for teh
auction on sunday, we went to the arena with wakanda, as we were close
in line. This turned out to add to shappa's upset, not setttle her, as
she now wanted wakanda at her side at every stride. We ended up having
to trick her into the arena, and she danced and fussed the entire time
we were in for the auction.
Patty (and then
while mike was in teh arena she was on the microphone), the mastermind
of this program, said very nice things about us and the work we did
with our 3 girls. She thanked us for our participation in the program.
it was much appreciated by us both, knowing that neither mare showed
her best this weekend.
WHERE TO NOW? shappa
will get some much deserved rest this week, and then over the weekend
I'll begin again. we'll work to fix the walking on a lead
rope challenges that blossomed over the weekend but were acatually
rooted in her behavior the week after our crash when she stopped
trusting people to show her what is safe outdoors and to follow where
she is told without arguments.
shappa belongs to
the BLM for the next 12 months, but under my care. If as she progresses
we find that it doesnt make sense for her to become a permanent partner
for me, then i will look for another BLM approved adopter for her
and transfer her, or wait until next april and once i have title to
her, will then adopt her out under CWER's normal policies.
||Shappa will be given all of the next year simply
to mature mentally and physically. When she tells US that she is ready
to return to work, we will gladly do so then.
||We have just now put Shappa back under saddle.
She has matured dramatically -- both physically with a strong, solid
build and a great wide back; more importantly, she has matured
mentally, with a much more solid and consistent attitude and outlook,
and she seems to be truly enjoying returning to riding.
||Shappa is riding periodically, as time allows,
and doing very well. She remains well balanced and interested in the
work we are doing. She can still get nervous rarely, but is so much
more confident than in her past. She is riding w/t/c indoors and doing
very well. We have not ridden outdoors yet this year due to weather and
Sponsorship: Shappa now needs a feed sponsor. The feed
sponsor donates to cover the cost of her feed monthly -- $100 per month
at this time.
She also needs a
medical sponsor. Recent expenses since the contest included an
ulcer preventative ($85) and an herbal mix called Shen Calmer to help
balance her Liver chi and her moodiness.