Coming of Age

October 4th, 2010 by Kim

Isaac on his first day of life, with wonderful momma, Chocolate.

We’ll get back to the PDCA political drama a little later.  But right now, October is becoming a “horsin’ around” month for me, so we’ll just change the subject for awhile.  I love my horses as much as I love my little cows, but I haven’t gotten to write much about them here yet.  We raise Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses and have a lovely little herd of 10.  One of those ten has recently entered a special time in his life – time to be started under saddle.

Several weeks old & as cute as can be.

Isaac’s Coming-of-Age

June 19, 2008, Jeff had a team gathering here early in the morning to head off on a missions trip to Poland.  Walter came through the front door with the exclamation of, “So how old’s your little colt out there?”, at which point I realized that Chocolate had pulled a sneaky fast one on me and I dashed to the barn to see an adorable bay spotted foal by her side.  He was already dry & getting around quite well, but once the team got on the road I went through the imprinting routine as usual, even though he was several hours old already.  And thus, Isaac entered our lives.

6 months old, on photo day for sending in registration paperwork.

He shed out his baby fur into a gorgeous, rich bay spotted coat with an exclamation point on his forhead.  Then we had a late summer struggle with sunburn in his white spots on his neck, shoulders, rump & tailhead.  He tolerated the washing, doctoring & sunscreen very well, and maintained his calm, friendly demeanor as he grew.  That fall we registered him as Marker’s Victory! Isaac.  He spent the next year & a half mostly as pasturemates with his sire, Marker.

He turned into a lovely yearling stud colt.

All my life, I’ve thought there had to be a better way to train horses than letting them run wild for 2 years, then having to “break” them by “cowboying it”.  And I was right.  I came across John Lyons and starting learning about his training methods…and fell in love.  Then I found Dr. Robert Miller’s book, Imprint Training, and fell in love again.  And started to think that I actually could do this.  I started imprinting my newborn foals, then raising them with continued training in basic manners. I eventually found a John Lyons certified trainer, Kathy Huggins, and in 2008 went through her Graduate Trainer Program. 
And found out I really could do this!

Reviewing our basic bridle work.

Sacking out: fun with a poncho.

I didn’t get to do a lot of work with Isaac that first 6 months of his life, because I was busy working with my certification horses for the Trainer Program.  Nevertheless, by the end of his yearling summer, he had learned basic manners & leading, tolerated baths, stood still to have his feet trimmed, and had a good start on learning to stand tied & load in the trailer.  It was also definitely looking like he had inherited his momma’s wonderfully natural, smooth gaits.

Touch down! My derriere meets the saddle the first time.

And now, Isaac is two years old, the weather has finally cooled down to something tolerable for running around in a round pen, and so, it was time.  The day I’ve been waiting for.  A fine young man coming of age.  Wednesday, September 29, 2010 I started Isaac under saddle.  And he did so amazingly awesome!  Not that I expected anything less, considering Choc’s & Mark’s dispositions.

Reviewing bridle cues while wearing the saddle.

Wednesday morning we started out in the round pen by reviewing the bridle work I had already taught him.  Then we worked on the round pen basics of inside & outside turns, and turning to face me on cue.  After he had that down, I brought out all my toys to do the desensitization work we call “sacking out”.  All went smoothly, right up to putting on the saddle.  I sent him around the pen so he knew he could move with that thing strapped on his back…and make sure he wasn’t going to buck, which he didn’t.  We breezed through the mounting “warm-up”, and then there I was, in the saddle, with Isaac calmly standing there, one foot cocked, as though he was born with me on his back.  Then, with a little encouragement from the rein, my clucking & rubbing my legs on his sides, we took our first few tentative steps.  By the end of the three hours I worked with him, he was responding to a proper leg squeeze & was getting the hang of me steering him where I wanted to go.  What a thrilling day….it was almost too easy!

Day 2: review with the umbrella sacking out.

On Thursday we had another lesson.  First, we quick reviewed everything from the first lesson.  Once I was in the saddle, he wasn’t very motivated to move around in the round pen.  Because of his very calm temperament, I felt it would be safe to take him out of the pen into the pasture paddock where the round pen is set up.  So out the gate we went, and my young man came alive.  We worked on steering, and then added little bits of speed.  I had him gaiting the second day in the saddle!

This time Isaac tries on the poncho.

I was busy with other things over the weekend, so we didn’t have our third lesson until today.  And, wow, what a day!  He was moving  & steering nice in the pasture again, but the ground is quite rough & rocky.  So I decided it was time to move to my usual training area…the front yard.  Out another gate, down the lane to the driveway & front yard we went.  We spent the next hour playing with his different gaits, including trot, rack(wow), canter(!), and pace(yuck).  This guy is definitely going to be a nice ride!  We also worked on some figure-eights around 2 poly-cones, and he was starting to go with a nice, softly rounded neck for me.  It’s so exciting to see such progress.  So that’s Isaac’s story up to this point…I can’t wait to see what this young stallion matures into.

2 Responses to “Coming of Age”

  1. Susan Lea Says:

    Great job! He’s a beauty! My barefoot practitioner worked with me training Brandy, the 4 year old I bred from my mare Angel, using a combination of Clinton Anderson and Parelli methods. I’m a believer! Definitely more pleasant than when I sent Angel to a trainer who used to be a drill sergeant, I discovered later! Plus I had the pleasure of training my own horse. Like you, I only missed about the first 15 minutes of her life. It’s definitely the way to do it.

  2. Susan Lea Says:

    Thought you might be interested in some news of Sara and a couple pictures. Hopefully we’ll have some calf pictures soon–but NOT till we get the barnyard done! http://zephyrhillfarm.blogspot.com/