Sometimes things in our life change, sometimes not always seeming good but underneath some good can always come out of it. My sister has recently moved away, and it felt like a tragedy. She had a horse named Jolene, a Tennessee Walker; now that’s she’s gone it’s my responsibility for her and I love it! Between my mule and her, my life is fantastic.
Since I was little I’ve always wanted a horse, and being seventeen I was thinking it was kind of a long shot. You know how you want something for so long, but so much time has passed and you start to accept that maybe it’s just not for you? That’s how I was feeling for a while. Now I have a horse and a mule, which is kind of shocking and mind blowing. The training for Jolene and Jake are very different; it’s based on their personality.
Jolene is calm and easy unless handled sternly; then she becomes stubborn and frankly, dangerous. If I lose my grip of dominance (it seems) with her, she becomes unruly; she’ll try pushing me into a fence or turning her hindquarters toward me. I’ve always found it hard to be so dominant, not wanting to terrify or hurt the animal. I’m learning with horses (most any animal really) that it’s different, it’s either they learn to calm and behave in the gentlest way possible or you get hurt. She’s very responsive and catches on quick, but doesn’t seem to like to work too long.
My main problem with her is sweet feed, she starts to bite and tries to knock us down to the ground. She’ll charge and up on one of my sides she starts to circle in front while her body is pressed against me, almost herding me or forcing me to stop. I haven’t really figured out how I want to go about teaching this, but as of now I’ve been blocking the food with a line and make her wait until I move it signaling she can eat. It works, just not the part of getting her to not try and run me over.
She’s almost fine with everything I tested her with; rope desensitizing she was a natural with, saddling though of course she didn’t like the girth and I don’t have a bit I like so I’m not able to test that yet. I’m still doing ground work, not wanting to test the saddle out until I know she can take cues without hesitation. She doesn’t like her feet done, but I’ve been doing exercises where she picks her foot up almost as if to get rid of a fly; but now when she gets the cue she’s been holding it longer letting me actually get a grip. I’d prefer not to wrestle her foot into my hold; I like my record of no serious injuries.
Now Jake, he’s another story and I’m quite amazed with his progress and his personality! He lets about anyone walk up to him and touch him now rarely flinching, and he’ll walk with us. Though it’s not much, it’s enough.
The halter he’s still wary of, and if you don’t walk at least 5 feet around his back side he spooks and bucks. Though recently I’ve noticed if you talk and get his attention, then walk he’s perfectly fine. He almost seems unobservant, when I know he’s anything but that. He’s also very dominate and thinks he owns Jolene, and is always following her. Nothing’s really changed with him but with five people always walking around and having to be near him he’s starting to relax and be more open.
Though my sister leaving was sad, gaining Jolene is amazing and it’s self satisfying to be able to train her and Jake. When they do what I ask, I get to claim I taught them that and be proud of them. It makes me happy and feel good about myself, seeing my work actually working. With winter here it’s been hard to make myself do any work with them, but I’m hoping I don’t fall too behind with them. Thankfully they are now at my home so it’s easier to have access to them and keep a steadier routine.
About the Author: “My name is Katie Dodd I’m 17 years old, and live in Clifton, Tennessee. My hobbies are reading, writing, walking, occasionally riding horses, and a lot of other activities. My passions are animals first and then comes writing. I love making random stories up or writing poetry to express feelings. I have a lot of goals in life like finishing college, and opening my own vet clinic and animal shelter. I also want to get one of my stories published. I can get very passionate about things like the government and my beliefs. I like debating, and just sharing what I know. Out of all the subjects in school I’d say History is my favorite, it may be the past but it’s what shaped the world and changed a lot of things.”