Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two extremes. Meet the Haffie!

Can you get more extreme opposite than a 12 year old gelding racehorse veteran that is 17 hh, high energy, highly athletic Thoroughbred and a 4 year old, laid back, 13.? hh stocky, tough as nails mare haflinger?  Steady being my only constant mount for the past 15 years or so I have naturally become very accustom to 'handling' him and his strengths and issues.  I have made it not only my passion but my every spare moment obsession to educate myself to train me and him.  So bringing home Lily the haflinger pony and starting to work with her has been a different experience.  A good one but very very different.  I don't think I realized how 'hard' Steady is until getting on her back only a few times.  He has truely made me who I am today as a horsewoman.  Lily is going to make the most easy and versitle pony you will meet.  She will be able to be a trail blazer, western pleasure pony, eventer and cart pulling dream of a kids pony.  She will definitely win the versatilty award on my farm.

I know the main man on this blog is Steady but I thought I might give a little training progess with Lily too if you all don't mind.  To start she is crazy easy to work with and believe me that is not by accident.  See if you recall Lily was purchased by my Dad about two years ago as a two year old.  She spent the next year at my place.  I put alot of time and training into her during that year.  She left here for a year because of the cost of feeding another mouth all winter and at the age of 3 she still had a year of growing before I could really start her under saddle training being that she was young, small and I am a 5'9" adult I was not comfortable climbing up and doing any consistent work with her until her bones/joinst were developed.  So basically she was as far as I could take her until she grew up a little.  When she left she was great on the ground, she was good to haul, experienced in a show environment, hauled all over kingdom come to stand and be tied at horse shows and deal with 4-H and show madness.  She was cart trained, had a saddle and bridle on her on a regular basis and had me on her back a handful of times.  So she had the best of the best of a foundation put on her.  I dropped her off at my Dads sad and a little concerned that all that time and effort I put into her would be lost by standing in a pasture for the next year.  After a year I went to my Dad's and took Lily out to see what she remembered.  Just to find out that she was pretty much right as I left her.  I was amazed and that is what made me decide to start back up where I left off.  If she sat for that long and didn't miss a beat then to me she was a special horse and a horse I could trust with beginners/kids or anyone for that matter.  She just needed to be finished off in her training.  She understood the basics of undersaddle when she stepped back off the trailer at my farm because all that was laid out to here long before.  So she fully understood acceptance of bit, bridle, saddle and rider.  She understood move forward at a walk, stop and simple steering.  So that foundation I laid was solid and effective and that set us leaps and bounds ahead of the average 4 year old entering under saddle training.

I have a 15 year old girl riding her for lessons and using her in 4-H.  She is doing well with her and I think they will do well in 4-H this year.  I do get on her back to correct issues that the young gal can't work through during their lessons.  I think it is good for both of them to deal with beginner horse and beginner rider issues.  4-Her is old enough and ridden long enough to be able to figure out how to handle a safe but young horse's issues and Lily will benefit greatly from having to deal with a beginner rider and their issues.  But Thursday was my first official training ride on her.  Finding the time to ride two horses I know will be a challange but the nice thing is she should be good to go for most riders in such a short time that it won't last too long.

Our first official training ride.  Goals:
1)Get more effective response to move forward at the trot.  4-H gal really struggles to get her to move forward faster than a walk but that is only because Lily does not know what her job is yet and needs a little help figuring it out.
2)See how she responds to leg pressure.
3) Check how good her stop button is.
4) what will she do with poles and jumps
5) keep her happy relaxed and enjoying her new 'job'

1)  I had much success with getting her to move forward at a trot.  She has yet to figure out canter but I am in no hurry there.  If you keep your body language saying forward with the occassional kick, or tap on the rump with my hand she figured out what I wanted.  She wasn't just walking to be defiant she honestly did not understand that I really wanted her to move fast AND keep moving until I say stop.  In just that one ride she caught on!  Obiviously will keep working to affirm it but once she realized what I wanted she had no problem doing it.
2) I am simply amazed that moving off leg pressure is completely natural to her.  It makes sense but since that horses would catch on to that because it is natural for them to move away from pressure but for Steady it takes so much work to get him to understand it does not mean forward.  And he is also much less lateraly inclined than she is.  It was really just natural for her.
3) The stop button was crazy effective.  She stops on a dime with either a simple body que of tightening up your body or the slightest finger pull on the rein.  Ahh mazing!
4) Poles I was shocked how good she was with her feet.  I guess I think of that type of drafty breed as less agile with picking up their legs and also not as concious of where they are.  Not her, she didn't so much as touch a trot pole though she did slow down to a walk when she was trying to be more accurate, what a GOOD pony!  HA opposite of Steady who speeds up when off balance.  A jump?  Well even at 12" cross rail she would only trot over it.  Trot over it quite nicely I might add but she did not realize she could actually pick up both feet at once.  Best part is though she didn't once attempt to avoid it.  She looked with ears pricked forward and bobbled back and forth the tiniest bit but with the slightest encouragement that she could indeed do it she popped right over.  Again GOOOOD pony!!  I think I will need to work with her on a lunge to help her understand the JUMP concept.
5) Happy and relaxed she stayed the entire ride!  Success!

I am so over all happy with her first official under saddle training session.  I am actually just amazed how easy it is going to be to get her going.  I thought I may be able to have my daughter riding her by the end of the summer.  Now I am thinking she will be able to start working with her in a matter of a couple weeks.  This pony is a winner and it is so fun to work with her.  It will be kind of sad the day that she returns to her rightful owner  (my Dad).  Though I put all that work into her free it has been a great experienced that I gained a lot from so I will mark it up as being payed in experience.


  1. What a cute girl...the pony is kinda cute too :)
    Sounds like a great mount for the 4-Her!

  2. I don't mind you sharing about her on Steady's blog. :D She sounds awesome!


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