Monday, March 11, 2013

More Than I Bargained For

So this post was supposed to be happy and exciting because I have a surprise to share! But I wanted to warn you ahead of time that it is going to be more of a rant instead...

First off, meet Queenie. My new project!

She is Tux and Katy's mom (see "The Herd" tab if you don't know who they are), an 11 year old, 16.2hh Clydesdale PMU mare.

So here's the deal: she's had 60 days under saddle with a professional trainer according to my aunt. He didn't have the time to help sell her and show her to people interested so my aunt asked me if I'd be willing and I said yes, as long as she can pay for board. She agreed and brought Queenie down yesterday. I get two months to try and sell Queenie. Not a hard thing to do right? I mean after all, she's already started undersaddle and that's half the work right there!


We all know that anyone can call themselves a trainer and charge for their "training" when the truth is that they know nothing about training a horse. Well, I'm pissed because this "trainer" is exactly that - he put hardly any training on this horse in the 60 days she was with him and charged my aunt for it.

I expect a horse that's been under saddle that long to know how to walk, trot, canter in both directions and maintain gait without being nagged. I expect her to stand still for mounting, to halt and back in a relatively straight line willingly. I would expect them to bend, soften to the bit, and move off the leg to some degree. I would expect them to yield the hindquarter and forehand when asked and be relatively well exposed to things like whips, flapping straps and normal noises that they might here.

Queenie is basically none of those things. If I hadn't seen a picture of her being ridden by this so-called trainer, then I wouldn't imagine she had any training.

I put her in cross ties and she stood very well, which I was surprised. She was started by a "cowboy" type of guy so I wouldn't have expected her to be in any sort of cross ties, but she didn't seem to be bothered by them one bit.

I got her all groomed up - she's got a little bit of rain rot along her back, not bad but not unexpected given that she's got a little valley going down her back because of how chunky she is. I banged her tail, braided her mane and forelock up, then broke out the clippers to shave off her beard and whiskers. She had never seen clippers before and was a little scared of them (I unclipped the cross ties so we wouldn't have any "accidents"). But with some treats she quickly accepted them.

I saddled her up without any problems though she was a little jumpy about me cinching her up. She accepted the bit rather well. I lunged her and she seems like she's done it before perhaps, though very badly, plus she was quite afraid of the lunge whip. She walked and trotted but had no "brakes" that I could find. Once I got her stopped I asked her to go the other direction, to the right and it took her several minutes to figure out to go forward. Cantering takes quite a bit of convincing and at this point her toes are so long I'm afraid she's going to trip and fall on her face.

She does yield her hindquarters but she does so very fearfully. Some people don't seem to understand that your horse can be responsive and respectful without being afraid. After finishing with lunging and seeing that she didn't look like she was going to buck I asked her to bend to either side which she had also apparently never done and was very stiff and heavy.

I got on and almost immediately regretted it. She spooked and danced around and I thought she was going to take off with me; she was very reactive. I talked to her and patted her and after a couple minutes she calmed down. I let her walk off and she was ok. The posters on the wall are terrifying, she spooks at every noise that the other horses make. She doesn't steer very well, she doesn't listen to any leg cues very well, trotting involves a lot of kicking (from me, not her) and she doesn't maintain her gaits. When you ask her to stop she does so very suddenly and bracing-ly, then dances in place like I'm going to do something to her or ask her for something. She doesn't appreciate backing and roots the reins out of your hands and cannot go in a straight line to save her life. She kind of sort of goes on the bit at the walk, but not at the trot. She's got a short, easy to sit stride so I don't think she'll be making a dressage horse at all, but I was hoping to make her into a trail horse/husband horse.

My aunt told me that she is "green broke" but I don't even consider her that. By definition broke = trained and green broke should mean "trained but inexperienced". She's most certainly not trained. If I compared her to the horses that I've trained then her training is about the equivalent of being a week under saddle and having maybe 5 rides on her. Just makes me upset that this guy is calling himself a trainer - he's at least twice my age, therefore he should have twice my experience, especially if he considers himself a professional trainer. I may be young and not have a lot of experience training horses to the upper levels of any discipline, but I sure can start a horse a million times better than this guy.

Anyways, rant over - just had to get that out somewhere! It's not that I mind doing the training on her, I love training horses, it's just that I didn't expect to have to. Now of course I'm concerned that I won't be able to get Queenie trained and sold in two months, especially for how much my aunt wants. I could probably have her trained by the end, but I don't feel comfortable marketing her until she has a basic skill set down. Definitely more than I bargained for right now...

But isn't she cute?! Her face reminds me a lot of Tux and I think she'll be similar to train personality wise.

It's not her fault no one ever taught her anything...


  1. Well, she's SUPER cute and looks like a nice, solid girl, and the fact that she's not a complete clod is a good thing. You've definitely got your work cut out for you, but I bet you'll have her turned around pretty quickly! I can't wait to hear more about her!

  2. Sounds like you'll have fun...

  3. It seems to me as though God has brought this lovely yet terrified mare into your life for a reason. I think she needs someone like you to help her trust. I also feel like you are just the person she needs right now, and you will excel at the task at hand. Although it might take you a little longer than 2 months. Good luck and keep us posted. This is a story I am going to want to follow.

  4. She sure is cute! Poor girl to have obviously so little experience with "life"! I'll bet she'll come around well now she has you to work with her regularly. :)

  5. she is cute, sucks about the trainer though. Best of Luck!