Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It begins

It's been almost a year since my last post and even longer since my last endurance ride, but I'm pleased to say that this year I will be starting my homebred filly Taliah under saddle. Taliah is now 3 years and 3 months old so I've still got another two years to go before we can do an 80km ride. There's plenty I can do with her in the meantime though! So far I've had a few short rides - nothing too strenuous as she's still a baby - and like all good horses she has plenty of spunk. The first time I put a roller on Taliah she screamed at the top of her lungs like a child throwing a tantrum in the supermarket! No bucking, no rearing, no kicking - just this deep, guttural roar which could've easily come from a grizzly bear or a T-Rex. I'm pretty sure I vaulted over the round yard fence like an Olympic gymnast. Fortunately she dropped this alarming habit after a few sessions in the roller, but it would've made saddling up at a ride rather interesting!

For all her quirks, Taliah is a dream to handle and ride. She's happy to be caught (she actually trots over to me in the paddock) and doesn't get revved up when the rest of the herd comes galloping past. Nothing seems to really faze her and I can drag her out of the paddock after a month of no handling and jump straight on - not bad consider I've only sat on her less than a dozen times! Initially I planned to spend a lot more time in the round yard with her, but she learns so darn fast I had to adjust my plans to keep her interested. And so it was that I found myself riding Taliah around my friend Colin's 200 acre property last weekend.

Despite the fact that she's still learning basics like stop, go and turn, she went beautifully and seemed to enjoy doing something different. I believe keeping a horse's mind stimulated is such an important part of training. Doing the same thing over and over again is a sure fire way to make a horse sour so I always try to mix things up. It's also important to go at the horse's speed, not yours. In this case Taliah was starting to get bored in the round yard and if I continued to drill her in there I think she would've ended up very sour. That's the last thing I want, so I'm going to break up those round yard sessions with trails and other new challenges. In a few months I'll be bringing her home to enable me to work her more frequently. I can hardly wait till then!

Taliah on her second ride out of the round yard

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