Last week Alex had her first ride on her three year old filly, Kalipso. Yesterday they went for their first trail ride down the trans Canada trail! Kali was calm and easy to handle every time. Her first rides have been completely solid and stress free. With any green horse you want them calm, but Kali is over 16 hands and as a big baby, it’s vital that the situation is safe and she is respectful and responsive.
I love Alex’s attitude! She trusts me and gives me free rein to play with her lovely horses. At first I just spent time sitting and journaling with Kali. Even as a yearling she towered over my chair at over 15 hands. I journaled with her until she came up to me and would touch my elbow or stand and sleep by my chair.
In the ring I set Kali free and we played with obstacles. The great thing about playing at liberty was that I could teach Kali a variety of important skills without stress or force. She learned to step away, to free lunge in a circle around me in a large area, to come when she was called and to maneuver around and over obstacles. She stepped up on pallets and weaved through cones. She was a little too keen with the exercise ball at times and would pin her ears while chasing it down. I also worked with her around food and treats because she was a little strong around food.
Kalipso volunteered to participate in her sessions and to this day she is keen to interact and learn with people. Her sessions have always been short and positive.
Alex also gave her a great start by leading her out on trails as a foal and leading her from her mother’s back. She became accustomed to dirt bikes, dogs, other horses and cyclists. Alex also handled her frequently, grooming her and putting saddles and blankets on her.
When Kali was two years old she came to my farm and learned about wearing tack during exercise. I also taught her to drive from the ground off of her halter, bridle and a circingle. We always started out with liberty and then I would add the tack once she was comfortable. I would step up on the mounting block and call her over from wherever she was in the ring and then ask her to move her hindquarters over to “park” at the block for mounting. Then I pet her and would lay my arm over her back. Parking was one of her favourite things to do and she’s carried that forward now that she is three and being ridden.
When it came time for her work under saddle she wanted to try it. She had seen her mother ridden under saddle many times and Alex had lead her down the trail while riding. Kali wanted to try the activities her mother was doing.
By the time Alex sat in the saddle for the first time Kali was ready, willing and understood all the necessary basics. She knew how to halt, steer, go forward, sideways, and even backwards on cue. All she had to do was gain a basic understanding of the leg and learn the feeling of carrying a rider. Within a few short rides she was confidently striding out and changing rein.
Naturally Kali will spend a life time perfecting her ability to carry a rider with balance, grace, suppleness and power, but she’s off to a great start!