I purchased a new horse a few months ago, I was SO embarrassed about her body condition when I got her I didn’t even post pictures. I knew I was getting a ‘project’ but I was confident I could get some ranch work done while I taught her a few things. I was hoping I’d fall in love, but if I didn’t I was confident I could find her a good home.
When she arrived here at the ranch she was 100 lbs skinnier than I anticipated her being (and I was anticipating her underweight since she was pretty skinny the one & only time I had met & rode her). She’s a part-Arabian, buckskin with a splash of white. I was told she was 6, the vet tells me she’s at least 10. I fed her like crazy, and she’s gained around 250 lbs. I started riding her & was appalled! She’d rear and back, refusing to go forward. NOT the horse I rode months earlier! Once she even kicked at me when I tried to mount. She regularly swishes her tail & sidesteps (obviously pain or anticipation of pain). I couldn’t ride her away from the barn at all, not even from the barn to the corral/arena where I ride often. When we’d go with another horse out on the trail she’d do better until ‘home’ was in sight then prance all the way home (or at least until I dismounted & left her tied to the nearest tree! I’d come back for her in an hour or two, and she’d walk home more calmly). I worked with her & worked with her I taught her to side up to the fence so I could get on from there. I made sure her saddle fit her well. She got so she was confident by herself in the arena & eventually we made it around the outside of the arena without a rearing tantrum, we started going a bit further (10 to 20 yards) each time we rode until we were finally circling a small stand of trees outside the arena (the barn was still visible from here). The training issues were more than I anticipated but I felt confident that she was at least making progress.
The health issues were surprising to me. I wormed her as soon as she got here. We trimmed her hooves three times in the first six weeks we had her, they were tall, long in the heel, very stood up & concave inside with almost no frog, just hoofwall. It also turns out she may have never had her teeth floated, she was dropping a considerable amount of grain. She had ulcers & she was peeing excessively, probably due to the ulcers & trying to keep something in her stomach at all times, there wasn’t always food to eat when she was penned up but there was always water. Her neck was always off to the left of center & there were two noticeable bumps in her spine, one at the lumbar (often called a hunter’s bump) that was obviously swollen, and another further back (about half way between her croup & dock).
I took the mare with me just weeks after getting her to one of Zarna’s EPR (Equine Positional Release is ortho-bionomy for horses!) clinics & we worked on her neck. I’ve taken 2 or 3 clinics with Zarna Carter now & love the work!! There was a noticeable change, after just a few moves she held her head closer to center and had an increased range of motion. We also worked on her lumbar spine & pelvis. This horse really likes it too! I’ve continued the work here at home too & the physical changes are undeniable!
She is on an herbal supplement (Equine Natural Care) from my amazing friend Trina Cox for her ulcers (and my other horses are getting natural wormer now too! So glad I called her!), and she’s out to graze daily. Her attitude in general is much improved. They called her Gypsy, and I wanted to change that since I felt it inferred that she’d be traveling on to another place before long, even if she didn’t make the cut as a ranch horse I wanted her to have a forever home. That lead me to my good friend Leta, who recently wrote a book on animal communication (buy it on Amazon!). I’ve used her services before & found her insight very helpful. So I asked Leta to ‘talk’ with this mare. I wanted the horse to know that I am very fond of her, and I would like her to stay here & become my partner, but that meant that she & I were going to have to do ranch work, just the two of us, specifically riding fence. If she didn’t want to do that, I would continue to work with her & find her a new home, hopefully a forever home, doing things that she enjoyed doing. Leta also requested a list of names that I liked for her. Their conversation was VERY interesting, the mare had remembered meeting Leta before (at a clinic we all attended not long after I had started riding her). She told Leta that her stomach always hurt & she was always hungry & Leta asked me to look into ulcers as a possible cause for her discomfort (yes that was before Trina came out & confirmed it was ulcers!). Finally they reviewed names & the mare was used to being called Gypsy & also liked it best when people called her Pretty Girl. She also seemed to like the name Olympia.
So here she is, my pretty girl Olympia:
Now is the most amazing part…I rode Olympia the next day, we warmed up in the arena which had become our custom, she was doing as well as she had been. Then we left the arena to do our lap around the outside of the arena & she pointed herself up the hill toward the stand of trees we had been circling, so I encouraged her to go that way. She walked calmly for the first time to the top of the trees, so I encouraged her to go a bit further…all at a calm walk, we went out the green gate at the top of the pasture (now double as far from the barn as we had EVER been alone!) So up the hill into the trees we went! Another 200 yards! We were easily three times as far from the barn (which was now long out of sight) than we had ever been just the two of us….and get this…no prancing, no elevated heart rate (she would get so anxious you could feel her heart pounding between your legs under the saddle!). She started to get a little anxious & walking faster up the hill, I pet her neck & talked to her, there was an old logging road/trail just another 30 yards ahead that makes a really nice loop back down to the barn, and we had gotten SO far that I just HAD to try it! Sure enough we made it to the logging road without breaking into a trot or even a prance! I was ecstatic! We looped around & walked calmly all the way back to the barn….then…because I am really horrible at just calling it a day when things are going SO well…we walked right past the corral, past the horse trailer (where I tack up) this has been a major issue in the past with Olympia, but just a little leg & we walked right on by! Then past the barn & back behind the barn for a loop through some different terrain back there that we had never explored together (not even with another horse for company!) She was a gem! A different horse!! I knew Leta’s talk had sunk in with Olympia, she had made a choice to stay with me & there was a dramatic change in her literally overnight.
That change was solified even further today when I rode fence this morning. I rode my little blue filly Tiki because she & I need the miles to get ready for an upcoming clinic, but I tacked up Olympia for her to pony along too. I thought it would be good for her to have been along the fenceline before I attempted to ride her out there. We were all getting along great when we got to a very steep drop in the trail. It’s one of only 2 spots on our entire fenceline that we ALWAYS dismount & walk our horses down. Tiki refused to go, I worked her for awhile & tried a few different things, then thought well, maybe she’ll just follow Olympia. I tied up Tiki’s reins & lead and left her loose, as I lead Olympia down, Tiki turned & left. Yup just flat out ditched us! I was annoyed, mostly at myself, and Olympia was worried (but not as worried as if this had happened months ago, I don’t know that I could have safetly lead her let alone got in the saddle!) But she stood still & I mounted up, we rode the rest of the fenceline (another 4 miles or so) just the two of us! She did great!! I may need to try some endurance rides with this girl when she’s 100% healthy! She’s out grazing some much deserved greens right now & I am a happy gal on the porch, laptop on my lap, with Mesa (our 3 year old daughter) playing in the dirt, Miss Tiki tied to the bad pony tree (surprise surprise she took a short cut home) & a beautiful view of Olympia in the field.