Friday, January 18, 2013

Lots of Stuff About Joey

Time for a new blog post!

But first, an announcement: I am proud to announce that Joey Joey won the honor of Horse of the Day on on Sunday! ^.^ I was excited; we've been members of the website (and subscribed to the magazine, Horse Illustrated) for three years now and hadn't ever gotten HotD.

An entry from my Horse Journal, 1-16-13

It is Wednesday. I am not kidding you: it has not stopped raining since Saturday night. Really. I've kept careful track. So, I haven't been logging much because it has been too wet (and cold) to do anything with Joey as of late.
Today, to boost my spirits (not really specifically for me), Mosie posted the amazing, dream-attaining video of her and Annie riding bareback and bridleless on the beach -- just like The Black Stallion! I was [jealous, but more] so excited for her! She totally deserves that experience after all of the faith she's put into the dream. Joey and I wouldn't be where we are today without her, so I am truly ecstatic for her! (Here's the vid. You need to watch it.)

Earlier this week, Shelby and I took Joey for another walk in the woods. He enjoys getting out.
And I think back on rain-less Saturday, Shelby and I put him under saddle for a 10 minute walk-halt lesson; but that was all the real exercise he's gotten in almost a week. But that's ok, because it's been super cold and he needs his energy to stay warm in such a damp world.

Yesterday, he and I went on another walk -- or tried to. We got down to the tractor shed and all of a sudden he got it in his head that he knew exactly the way home from there. He took off without me, not seeming to realize it until he was in the front yard, standing on a slope in the drizzle. He suddenly stopped in his march homeward and began looking around anxiously for his herd mate. Of course I was following the whole way, but I don't think he knew that; I called out to reassure him, and he nickered in his relieved tone. Silly boy. Then it was a cookie for comfort, and a squeal and playful head toss + paw combination from him, and then we settled down to graze in the misty rain.

This evening, while he was eating his grain, I piled gravel in his doorway -- it was the worst muddy mess I have ever seen, and I was beginning to get worried about him really hurting himself by getting a leg stuck in the thick mud. I'll have to dig it all out again when I want to close the stall door (which I rarely ever do) (we really just need a gutter) -- but it was worth it (<-- picture that mess). O.O
Then, I decided that Joey and  I aren't going to magically be able to instantly ride bareback and bridleless, no matter how much or what kind of prep work we do. . .right? [Not so sure I feel the same anymore; but we've begun the progress, so might as well continue and see what happens.] So, I tied the lead rope from his rope halter that was hanging nearby into a loop/"liberty neck ring" and draped it over his neck. I got on his back (which, he had the option of walking away from me perched on the fence; I made sure that was clear) and we gave it a go.
I think he did really well (keeping in mind that this kind of thing doesn't happen over night). Whereas before, I had no way of directing him without a bit/when I just hopped on naked Joey in the paddock, I had some more control from the neck ring; which surprised me since it wasn't connected to his face. Let's just say that I felt before that Joey had lost all ability to neck-rein and could not be controlled without reins attached to his nose.
But tonight, even though he gravitated to the gates as usual, we backed and made some turns with only *slight* cues from the neck rope! What a major break through! At some points I found myself really hauling on the rope, trying to get him to go away from the gate. But then I made myself relax and remember that it wouldn't come over night and that this was just for fun. And then just sitting by the gate, or backing a step or two was fun!
But the overall best part that's got me so excited was near the end: I nudged him away from the gate and asked him (lightly and loosely/relaxed) to go out into the paddock, headed away from the gate -- something he hadn't done willingly for me yet. And you know what? I felt him really step out willingly! We walked the length of the barn, toward the second paddock without so much as a slight pick up of the neck rope from me -- we walked there together; he and I! I was ecstatic -- I still am!
It was our first real connection under saddle!

Note: I've also begun giving him free-choice forage 24/7, and I think it's making him feel good/better; he's been more energetic and interested in whatever I'm doing, and it would appear that food is not always on his mind anymore. Yay! ^.^

Back to present day.

Joey and I did another lesson in bareback, bridleless riding last night, after supper. He seemed to be more contrary yesterday; I think he's just tired of all the wet. (For the big finale of the nonstop-rainy week, it snowed two inches yesterday morning, and then melted completely away under a bright sun by the afternoon! What a finish! It was beautiful! ^.^ ) Because he seemed more contrary, I tried to be patient and remember: it's just for fun/it doesn't come over night/"always strive to build good habits and good memories" (a quote from one of my horse training books). So, I did not get worked up about his grumpiness -- which is a big break through for me. ;) And you know what? By the end of the lesson, we had walked willingly the length of the barn (stepping out away from the gate) twice -- bareback and bridleless! I was so proud of him, even though he was being tough for the rest of the ride. And he seemed to perk up a little after I praised him for walking out like that.

As for other business: Last week, I had a moment of discontentment with my horsey situation. (Rather keep the motive to myself.) So I headed out to the barn to do the chore of washing the linens to put myself back in my place, and I ranted to Joey. And do you know what  he told me (more or less)? He said that things happen for a reason -- but then, some things don't happen for a reason.
He said that he has me right now and that I have him right now; and that we might not be famous and/or have the most ideal circumstances (in my mind), but we're learning from each other just the same. And that's the best thing that can happen between a horse and human.
He told me that he's happiest just being able to be a horse and to have good care and good companions -- he couldn't care less about being on the road and/or being some hot shot (like sometimes I wish we were), because that's just not how horses wanna live out their lives. They're quiet, gentle, slow folk.
And when he saw that that didn't quite cheer me up, he reminded me that we'll always have each other -- even into the future, after college.
He's not just my horse or my pet for right now; he's my partner forevermore, even after I get done with my learnin'.
And maybe now is not our time to shine; maybe we just have to be patient, or even just be content to shine through the stories we'll tell when we're old. I mean, how many kids can say that their first horse was a blind one? A young blind one that taught them never to give up in life? That taught them that there's always light in the dark tunnel -- even if it's artificial light you gotta make yourself to keep you believing until you reach the real stuff at the end of the darkness. There's always light. Simply believing that and being friend these past three years is a wonder in and of itself.

So thanks for reading. I hope you did check out the video of Mosie and Annie (if not, you can always scroll back up and check it out ;) ). And I hope you come back for more and/or decide to follow. Don't be afraid to comment if you have questions or advice or anything to say at all.



  1. I am so happy about your rides on him bridleless! You seem like you really have the right attitude, and he is showing you results in response! The best thing that really changed everything for Annie and me was approaching bridleless riding not like an expected service a horse must give but rather a gift they are giving you. When you are on him, I believe it is better not to even think of what he "isn't doing" or what is "not right" (of course being safe). Rather, focus on and rejoice in every small gift he gives you. It will make you feel better, and thus allow him to be more receptive, if you aren't commanding/demanding him to turn. Evey thing should be a question - a request. If you ask if he would like to turn and he does, then praise like there is no tomorrow because he is willingly giving you the joy you are looking for! He will be more likely to turn for you again the next time if he knows it is a grateful partnership. With this attitude, if he doesn't do what you ask, it is not big deal - you are still happy to just be with him and because it wasn't a demand, your "pride" isn't hurt and you (meaning whoever!) can stay calm. You want the experience to always be positive :) ... you sound like you know this though ;) This is still how I ride with Annie - every ride is a gift she gives to me - I try to always be very grateful and conscious of that

  2. Also (sorry to comment so much!) but I think you and Joey are already stars. You are a path beaming with light... mainly shinning from inside you and joey! From what you wrote, I know how you feel - I had some similar feelings. You are so much farther than you even know. I loved what he said :) he is right on


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