There are times when I’m insanely jealous of my horse trainer friends that have found a way to make a living while pursuing their passion with horses. When I’m dealing with overreaching government agencies that I feel with every fiber of my being are unconstitutional in their very existence not to mention a complete waste of my tax dollars to maintain in order to collect the pay check that funds my farm, envy/jealousy don’t even come close to adequately describing my emotions. Despite my personal beliefs regarding these agencies, I’m not half bad at navigating their bureaucratic red tape for the most favorable or at least, least negative outcome. Because what can be favorable about a loss of rights?
Then there are moments when I realize beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that my choice to pursue a career outside of the horse industry was definitely the correct one. Sometimes I really fantasize about pursuing a late life career change to something in the equine dentistry or farrier fields, but I am reminded on at least a monthly basis, that I do not possess the personality conducive with training horses for my income. Never is that more apparent than when I’m starting a new project. Obviously if I was riding and training six to ten horses a month, starting a new project would not seem as daunting, but starting back at the beginning is my least favorite part of training, specifically ground work.
Yes, yes, I know proper ground work is the foundation of the relationship with your equine. Its vitally important to success and a great predictor of future greatness. I however lose interest in it very quickly. I hate in-hand work, lunging, and all things that happen with me standing on the tail end of a lead rope. Oddly, enough liberty work can be fairly satisfying, but you don’t get there without the initial first few weeks spent on groundwork basics. This is where Darling Husband and I differ. DH derives some perverse pleasure from starting out with a blank state. His interest begins to wane, right when things are getting good, and you to actually have to mount or hitch up. He’s practically ecstatic when a new prospect hits the farm, and I’m eyeing it as yet another couple of weeks I’ll be slogging through ground work.
Its an odd aversion for someone that dreams of creating a six hitch if not eight hitch of mini’s started, trained, and driven by yours truly. My hatred of starting over is really why Tater Tot is such a terror, and Summer Cloud knows essentially nothing after two years on the farm. I began to remedy that this weekend, while I also started over with the donkeys. Basically, I don’t have any shows until next year with the bigs. I’m planning on shifting my focus with the bigs to reach newly established goals (might try my hand at endurance with Comanche and its time to start the dressage climb, later eventing level climb with Johnny Cash), and that leaves several months with no competitions on the calendar to get some harness prospects started.
I’m sure if I was training professionally, there would always be a few horses in every stage of training on my property, meaning I wouldn’t have to stop and think about Step 1. In theory, I know all the steps, but every time I start over I have to really think about what I did previously that was successful. It’s been a full three years since I started the last pony so I’m rusty on the beginning. Step One is ground work, yield the shoulders, yield the hindquarters, back, side pass away/to, and basic lunging responding to verbal cues. Step Two is all of that while wearing tack and basic desensitization. Step Three is ground driving. Step Four is dragging a load. Step Five is hitching to the vehicle, and Step Six is taking your life into your own hands or putting it in a higher power’s, praying that you did an adequate job of preparing the animal for you to actually ride in the vehicle it is towing. Remembering the little nuances of those steps in the beginning is the struggle.
Tater and Summer started on the groundwork Thursday. However, its been so long since I started Apple Jack, and both Tater and Summer are shorter than her anyway. I forgot how awkward training a teeny tiny horse to move away from you is when their head is at knee level versus chest or eye level. It took two days before I really felt we were making progress. Anyway here we go again. Summer will be the second horse for my six hitch, hopefully to be paired with Apple Jack. Tater’s partner has yet to be determined, but Apple Jack currently has a bun in the oven that I hope will end up being the right size to match with Tater. At only 32 inches tall, Tater is a full hand shorter than the rest of the herd. By repeating the breed between Beau and Apple Jack I’m hoping her full sibling will be close in size to her. Worst case scenario, I end up with another pony around Beau/Apple Jack height that will easily pair with someone else.
I’m patient. I’ve got nothing but time to waste on the six hitch. I knew going in it would easily be a goal ten years in the making just in terms of finding/breeding the ponies, training them, purchasing the harness to outfit them and then building their wagon. I could cut some time off, by finding already trained ponies, but that’s a significantly larger financial investment, and really what would be the fun in that!?