Not much more than six months ago that I was getting ready to start my first job as a nurse. Just about that time Dickie came to live with his new forever family in Oregon. It seems like yesterday but it also seems like forever. I think I will feel like a "new grad" for at least another five years but I feel really settled in the new job. It feels like it is where I am meant to be. And I can't imagine my life without Dickie. When he first came home I wondered how long it would take for me to really fall in love. He was gorgeous, charming, and super smart. What's not to love? I only wondered because the biggest reason I love horses is the connection. It bring me satisfaction to know an animal so well that I can predict how he will react in different situations. I had know my other horses for over six months before they became mine. Being in the possession of an animal who was a total stranger to me was a new experience.
I have to say that I wish everyone would take six months to bond before they ever put a foot in the stirrup. Dickie was too young to get started under saddle until now but I wouldn't trade those six months on the ground for anything. When you are up in the saddle you miss so much. I have been watching him move in different situations for months and this will be invaluable when I ride him. I know how he naturally carries his body so I won't be fighting against it. I know what length of stride is comfortable for him. I know how he carries himself when he is tired. I can tell twenty steps ahead of time when his baby brain is starting to short out. I know how far I can push him when he is feeling stubborn before he will throw a royal tantrum. I don't always avoid a tantrum but at least I can see it coming. And I think this time has also given him a chance to know me. He understands my body language and tone of voice.
I think that even if Dickie had been older and under saddle taking six months getting to know him wouldn't have been a loss. The connection you build on a ground will carry over when you are in the saddle. There are people who would have started a horse like Dickie last summer. He was big and could care less about weight over his back from day one. I strongly believe though that a year from now we will be light years ahead of the person who started their horse at two and a half.
If you are in the market for a new horse I challenge you to spend some time just watching them and figuring out what makes them tick. Watch what they do in their stall, watch how they approach new situations, watch them move on the lunge line over different obstacles. I know it isn't feasible to give your new sport horse six months off but why not a month? If not a month surely two weeks of ground work and lunging won't hurt. Trust me it will really pay off.
I don't have any new photos so share so here are some blast from the past gems. These were taken by the rescue when he was a yearling.
|This is the baby boy as a yearling when Pony Up gave him his first bath. I am not sure how they did it because he vetoed the bath idea this summer.|
|Again as a yearly sniffing the nose of a blind mare that had been dropped in the kill pen. Pony Up saved her and they still have her. She has her own facebook page. Iris the Horse|
|His little baby butt with the auction tag.|
|Look at those BIG MULE EARS!!! Sadly I think he is growing into his big goofy ears.|