Monday, 30 August 2010

Lola's Story

I first met Lola in October 2009 as a 3 1/2 year old. She had lived on the same yard she was bred up until June 2009, then brought by a dealer and moved to his yard until i brought her on New Years Day 2010. She was practically unhandled, would have a headcollar on but that's about it. I began doing groundwork with her late October time and gradually started to build things up, starting from scratch with most things you would take for granted with a 3 year old such as picking up feet, having a rug on, leading in hand etc... Lola is a particularly fast learner though and it wasn't long before most things weren't a problem. Our only major issue has been loading.

Having never travelled before, and then going from breeders yard to dealers yard untied in a metal cattle trailer she was understandably scared. The dealer had already previously admitted to hitting her with a blue pipe until she loaded as she wasn't sure about going up the ramp! During the summer we began to practice loading. After trying all of the more 'traditional' ways of loading (feed, placing feet on ramp, putting another horse in first, lunge lines etc...) nothing was working so one day, while we were alone at the yard, i spend almost 3 1/2 hours standing with her at the bottom of the ramp on a lunge line. If she tried to turn away i was backing her up and presenting her at the ramp again. I stood half way up the ramp and just waited. After about 2 hours she's plucked up the courage to put her front feet on the ramp so i gave her a scratch (she loves being scratched- even better than a food reward!) and waited again. She backed down the ramp a few times but as she was on a lunge line i didn't move and waited for her to come to me again. It was a very long afternoon but eventually she just walked right up the ramp to me and that was that. We practiced tying up and shutting the partition for the next few days and i'm very happy to say she's not been a problem since. Sometimes i think you just need to give them the time to make the decision to enter the box of their own accord rather than under force or bribery.

After a few months playing with the other babies at my friends yard she was moved to her current yard to be back with Gem. She loaded perfectly to be moved (hurrah!) and arrived very chilled and happily munching away on her hay, looking completely unfazed by the journey. I turned her out with Gem that day, they said hello & had a squeal then walked off together to graze and have been inseperable again ever since.

The first few days were all very new and quite scary as there are lots of monsters on this new yard that Lola had never encountered before. They're building a new house on there at the moment so there are lots of big lorries, cement mixers, flappy plastic bags and lots of noise going on! She also met her first tractor and quad bike within a few days of being there and apart from the odd spook & shooting forward she was remarkably well behaved, especially for a 4 year old that's seen very little of the world.

She had been there about 8 weeks now and is very chilled & settled. She's working well on the lunge, and has been for lots of 'experience walks' around our hacking routes with Beauty (my friends mare) She's also been backed now which was a major step forward, i'm just waiting for my new saddle to arrive now & then the work really well begin!

So, that's Lola's story so far. Not bad for a horse that had only been handled a few times up until October last year huh?

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