Jodi makes progress, too

sniff2  It’s been a year since we acquired Jodi, the hefty, unstarted paint mare from Wisconsin.
Steve Peters has taken his time with her and it looks like the calm, deliberate approach is paying off.

We headed out to Pleasant Creek State Park for a long trail ride, just her second ride away from home. As you might expect, the five-year old was super curious about everything. Steve gave her time to take in her surroundings. She smelled the ground, investigated sounds and looked around high and low. Read more about Pleasant Creek and watch video.

onereinBefore we got going, he also asked her to flex her head and neck on both sides, making sure the One-Rein Stop would be there if he needed it. Read related article.

There’s a lot to be said for value of long rides (of at least a few hours). They give horse and rider a decent chunk of time to work things out, think about things, and most importantly, ride together.
Over eight miles, there were spooks and hazards alright. But Steve consistently gave her room to move and never nagged her with his reins or legs.

The result?
This pair got a solid, no-drama ride behind them with Jodi’s confidence and willingness firmly intact.

Read more about Starting Jodi.

Back to School

Folks say you can work with a horse, then leave it be.
For weeks. Months. Years, even.
two waysAs long as you left it in a good place and on good terms, it’ll be pretty easy to pick up where you left off. Horsewoman Kyla Pollard observed as much when she revisited a gelding two full years after starting him, with no one riding him in between.

“I’m pleased to say he didn’t forget too much,” said Pollard of the nine year old. “I’ve had him on fresh cattle, roped off of him, and hit the trails solo. He’s well on his way to becoming a great pleasure horse for his owner.”

With that in mind, we returned to starting Jodi, the four year old paint acquired last summer. Over winter, we hadn’t done much more than groom her and handle her feet a bit.
Steve Peters brought her back to the round pen with the idea of stirring up as little drama as possible. He saddled her and worked her on the ground without much fuss.
Next, he climbed aboard.

one wayI had camera poised and was ready for the fireworks.

She stood for a minute, then walked clockwise around the pen a few times. Then switched directions. She was a bit nervous, but clearly in a good place.

“She’s really come to trust me, so I think at that point my being on her back was almost like: ‘My pal’s up there.’ That’s how it felt,” said Steve.

I was ready for a fun, hats-off, Yee-Ha! photo. What I got was Ho Hum.
But I’ll take that kind of progress any day. Stay tuned…

Jodi touches her whiskers and lips to the saddle pad, after it's off her.

Jodi touches her whiskers and lips to the saddle pad, after it’s off her.

Winter Ride, II

The second ride in two days was with Shea and Jodi.
Shea’s such a lovely, quiet horse, so ponying the new girl is a Win-Win:

It’s good for Jodi to see new things and good for me to practice that extra juggle.

Jodi has some nice roundpen hours racked up, but stepping out into the neighborhood offers a new and different world to her. For pony2the rest of us, the ride was like any other. For her, I think, those ordinary encounters were extra-ordinary.

  • Scores of egg cartons missed the trip to the recycling plant and lay strewn along the roadside. The wind picked them up and blew them in our direction. They pursued us like heel-nipping dogs.
  • A neighbor decided to fire his gun right as we passed.
  • Cars passed close and fast.
  • Dogs bounced out of their yards to meet us.
  • Once off the road, we found the ground muddy on top but icy underneath. We trotted gingerly and Jodi learned to keep pace without bearing any tension on the leadline.

She learned that trail rides have their rewards. We found grass and stopped to graze for 10 minutes.
Through all of it, she kept her head.

Did quietness flow from me and Shea or is Jodi just a level-headed gal?
To be continued!


Ride Along Dog Progress

If we got another dog, we wanted a Ride Along Dog. Thus, the summer acquisition of Kip, an Australian Shepherd from a litter of eight down the road.
Kip’s growing up and at six months can outrun nearly everyone here at the farm. Her speed and wiliness mean I feel more and more comfortable about walking in the pasture amongst the herd with her.

Read initial blog post about Kip.
The horses interested, especially Jodi. The new girl would like to move Kip.
Kip would like to move Jodi. And anything else for that matter. She’s growing into her form and breed instincts, less intimidated and more curious by the day.


That’s another element that makes pasture walks doable. When horses get lively or come barreling towards the paddock for hay, Kip now knows the new command, “Out!”

Photo below shows Kip, after “out.” She’s scooted outside the paddock and waits for the next move. Or a treat, perhaps?

Jodi Makes Progress Thanks to Shea

Progress with the big girl took a big step forward today as we worked with her in the round pen.
Steve worked with another horse first and Jodi stood outside, wanting in.
A good sign!
When she got her turn, Steve first worked on the ground with and without the saddle.
He’d introduced the saddle over several sessions. She doesn’t take it in stride yet, but after some initial tense moments she settles nicely to the thing on her back.
Now, we were ready to put a live thing on her back.

He’d been up a few times earlier and ridden out a buck or two.
This time, we worked her by using Shea to pony her. They both did great. When any iota of panic in Jodi came up, we nipped it in the bud by turning her into Shea or just lightly restraining her.
After some time, I gave Steve the line and we went around together. I think Jodi realized she wasn’t tied to Shea but we still moved in concert, walking, trotting, turning.
Then I moved Shea left. Steve stayed straight. Jodi moved out as he asked with no hesitation.
A fun, positive day.
We got a good horse here.

Starting Jodi

With this improved blog, comes categorization and today we introduce a new one: Starting Jodi. (see categories listed above image)

NickerNews readers have come to know the horses in my life. The newest is Jodi. We acquired her in July from a kind Wisconsin owner.
Jodi is a four-year old quarterhorse type. Conformation-wise, she’s a tank. She has decent manners and came to us pretty much halter broke. We’re challenged by bringing her knowledge and training in line with her impressive size and strength.
The Starting Jodi category (indicated by the thumbnail image of the journal I’m keeping) will allow readers to follow the progress as we work with the young mare from introduction to herdmates, to trailer-loading, to saddling, and riding.
You can read initial posts entering “Jodi” into the search of the old blog by clicking here.

When Jodi first came to us, she landed firmly at the bottom of the herd.
Peppermint, in particular, let the new girl know exactly where she belonged. Here’s Pep being particularly adamant with her message. [See top photo.]
But Jodi has worked her way to the top. Or at least close to it. When hay is tossed, Jodi gets second dibs, after Brooke. I’m no expert at herd dynamics, but I have to think that it’s a combination of naivety, confidence, and brute force that got her to where she is now.
She seems to say:
Hey, happy to be here! But tell me to move I’ll kick your butt! [See bottom photo.]

She used to say that with horses and humans alike. Now she just says it to her herdmates.
Jodi and Pep

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