Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Skeeter Goes to Camp

I haven't said anything about sending the horses to a trainer because I didn't want to jinx it. Jay had a trainer picked out for Copper, one who placed top ten in the Colorado Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM) in May. The plans for Copper to go to that trainer fell through, so I was afraid to say anything about Skeeter going away until it actually happened.

I was super jealous of Jay's decision to send Copper to a trainer, and decided to re-allocate my "new gun" money to "Skeeter's Camp" money and talked to Jessica from Pony Peak Stangmanship. I met Jessica when she was a cast member on Horse Master a couple of years ago and have loved watching her work her 'stangs in the EMMs ever since. She is very zen-like in her approach to training and it shows in her horses.

Here's a video of her freestyle the year she won the Colorado EMM (2012). (You'll have to click the link, for some reason it wouldn't embed properly.)

We agreed she would take on Skeeter after she got back from the Fort Worth EMM (where she placed top ten), so on Monday I borrowed a friend's truck and trailer and hauled Skeets over. Mom came down to experience this milestone with us.

Remember last year when she didn't know her name? Now she comes when called.

Just some showing off for Grandma

When my friend offered me her truck and trailer, she didn't ask about my trailering experience. If you've been reading this blog a while, you might know that it's ... limited. I hauled Estes up the hill once in our small, two-horse straight-load bumper-pull trailer, and I hauled hay up the hill once on Jay's 21' flatbed bumper-pull trailer.

My friend's truck/goose-neck trailer combo was the biggest thing I've ever attempted. It was nerve-wracking because we had to go through miles of road construction, city traffic, and some dirt road driving.  I'm happy to say that I rocked that shit!

Stock trailer. Skeets did not approve at first.
I had just a passing thought as to how Skeeter would do getting into a trailer that hauls cattle, but then it vanished. She started to follow me up into the trailer and the she smelled the cows. I'm not sure she's ever seen cows, much less been close enough to smell them. She backed off the trailer pretty quickly, but didn't go far, just far enough away that she could get a good sniff.

It took about ten minutes for her to decide that the trailer was an okay place, then she walked right in like she had been doing it forever. Meanwhile, though, Copper was losing his mind that I'd taken Skeeter from the pen.

What a sweet face, right before all hell broke loose.

I'd like to say that Skeeter behaved herself once I took off her halter and closed the partition, but that would be a lie. She and Copper started screaming back and forth and she started kicking the trailer. Mom and I loaded up her bale of hay, told her to knock it off, and headed to Jessica's.

It took almost an hour to get there, and Skeeter did really well until we got parked. Funny, when she's concentrating on staying on her feet in a big ole stock trailer, she's too busy to kick.

I knew she was keyed up and was nervous about having to halter her and get her off the trailer because she was so fired up. We decided to keep the back gate of the trailer closed in case she decided to bolt when I opened the partition gate. I opened the partition and went in with the halter, while Jessica held the partition gate closed by reaching through the "windows" of the trailer. Skeeter put up a bit of a fuss about putting her nose in the halter, but in just a few seconds it was on.

I continued to be nervous about getting her off the trailer once the big back gate opened, but she followed me down nicely. Her head got high and she got just a smidge charge-y, but not like when we were at Julie's. It was a vast improvement.

We got her settled into her temporary home and discussed the goals for the next 30 days. At the end of her 30 days, I'd like to have a walk/trot/canter with good stops and left and right turns. Very basic stuff that a green broke horse should be able to do. One of the best things about sending her to Jessica is that I'll get a weekly lesson with Skeeter so that I can learn what Jessica's doing and continue it at home. My first lesson is Friday and I'm so looking forward to it.

The trainer that Jay had asked to train Copper has been pretty incommunicado, so we asked Jessica if she could take on Copper, too. She agreed, so when Skeeter is done, we'll swap out with Copper. It means that they will be separated for about 60 days, which is perfect. It will be good for them to have to rely on themselves and a human for a couple of months.

1 comment:

Linda said...

You are so lucky to have a trainer like that--one who understands Mustangs. I also love that she is giving you a lesson once a week. That's my issue with training, if you send them off and then don't know what the trainer was doing or how they were responding, it's like reinventing the wheel. I look forward to hearing about this.