Zoe works with a young new rider

This exotic 9 year old Arabian mare is in training to prepare her for a home of her own. Previously rescued by Cowgirl Spirit in November 2005, she now requires more advanced skills to be placed in a new home.

Zoe works with a young new rider

Postby stardreams on Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:29 am

I had the pleasure on Saturday to work with a 13yo girl, Chloe, who had fallen for Zoe. She wanted to spend some time with her, learn a few things, and if she was lucky be able to ride on her back. She was a beginner with very little experience, but loved horses. I've used Zoe before to lead my children around on as well as another new beginner, but it had been well over a year. I sure was looking forward to it!

I did find that Zoe was uncomfortable and unsure when I first put on the halter and led her from her paddock and into the arena. She had a hard time standing still when I removed the blanket, and felt that she was insecure. Our day was a "go with the flow" one, so nothing was set in stone as to what we were going to do. It was obvious that Zoe needed to be turned loose. I removed the halter and let Zoe go. She trotted to the other end of the arena and stood there looking out, calling for her paddock buddy, and not focused really at all on the people in the arena.

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Chloe and I walked down and spent some time talking and petting her. The biggest thing I remember Zoe enjoying is just time being spent with her, especially if she's unsure of herself. She was very actively flipping her head which she also does when she's insecure, which again confirmed my thought that she needed time just spent with her without requesting anything. I got Chloe started, and then backed up and let them have some time together alone. I find it often interesting watching a child with a horse, and the connection that they start to work on forming. Chloe spent the next while just talking to her, running her hands over her body, playing with her mane, and just standing next to her looking wherever Zoe was looking. Zoe started to relax.

Chloe walked with me back across the arena to get a brush, I welcomed Zoe to come, to follow us, but she wanted nothing to do with it. We each got a brush and walked back. Zoe was starting to enjoy herself, but when we walked away again although she started to follow she then stopped, braced, and went back to the gate to look out. Back again we came with brushes, and combed out her mane and tail, cleaning off her legs, and again just spending time with her.

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It took a little over an hour of just quietness, before Zoe started following us around and relaxing into touch. Her eyes started softening and her head flipping nearly stopped. I got the halter and worked with Chloe on how to put on a rope halter - something she had never done before. Zoe was patient. Since Chloe hasn't spent much time leading a horse before, we worked on leading exercises, around markers and over poles, working on her position when walking, the 'one arms length distance' and why that was important, and how to gently ask Zoe to prepare to stop... and stop her when her two front feet were over a pole. Chloe was SO PROUD when she finally figured out the timing. Zoe was very patient.

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When putting Zoe on the lunge line, it was neat to see her take a moment to figure out the difference between my cues for lunging and what she has been use to. It didn't take too long at all, and she figured it out and relaxed into the different requests. After she was confident in what was being asked, I brought Chloe in to try her first attempt at lunging. Zoe did REMARKABLE at patiently forgiving when Chloe ended up in front of her shoulder (something Zoe is very sensitive to) and moved her body in a way that was clearly giving her a different cue. It was almost as if Zoe was also listening to what I was explaining to Chloe on the outside of the circle, and followed my directions which built Chloe's confidence and gave her a fun experience. I could have hugged Zoe!

Zoe's eyes were shining and proud at this point, and I went ahead and worked with Chloe on saddling. That confidence then turned back to uncertainty again and her body tenses and feet started moving. She tried very hard though to hold still. When putting on the bridle she was a gem, and softly opened her mouth (GOOD JOB JULIANE!!). Rather then putting Chloe on right away, because of Zoe's obvious tenseness and insecurity, I went ahead and called a friend of mine in to get on first. As Jennifer stood on the mounting block I led Zoe up - Zoe didn't want to cuddle up to the mounting block like I've seen her do with Juliane. I led her away and quietly back again, not making a big deal about anything at all since Zoe's uncertainty was enough for her mind to chew on at the moment. I asked her to stop and again her body leaned away from the block. Again we walked quietly in a circle and lined her up again. It was treated as no big deal, and this time Zoe half-way relaxed into the block and up to Jennifer but the uncertainty was still there. While I held onto the leadrope, Jennifer stepped into the stirrup and on. Zoe quickly tensed and moved her hind end around in a forehand turn and Jennifer quietly moved with her. Soft good girls and pets were given and we started walking.

It's interesting with Zoe, how quickly she becomes solid as her confidence builds, and "I can do this!" is felt from her. Jennifer dismounted after a bit, lots of praises, and back to the block we went. We did this four times in total, and it was clear that Zoe was just fine now. Up until this point, I very much doubted that I would have Chloe get on Zoe at all - but she was returning back to her normal self now.

Chloe stepped up on the block and Zoe relaxed on up to it - this is something that Juliane taught her and is neat to see her do. She loves to be ridden, loves to work on learning new things, and it's cute to see her lean in as if, "I'm ready for you to get on :D" Chloe got up onto her back, and we started walking. After a while of walking, and walking over poles, I worked with Chloe on how to use her reins to ask Zoe to turn - Zoe did great, and responded softly to what Chloe was asking. At this point, as we passed the camera, Zoe turned her head, perked her ears and was clearly grinning and ready for Jennifer to take a picture of her, haha! She posed! :lol:

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Chloe has never felt a trot before, and as I held Zoe's leadrope with one hand and had my hand on Chloe's leg with the other, Zoe picked up a very quiet and slow trot, with one hugely grinning and giggling Chloe on her back :) She came back to the walk on cue, and again picked the trot back up again on cue - always remaining quiet and slow, solid and perfect.

Zoe again was an angel while Chloe learned how to ask her to back up - standing quietly while I explained the cue's to Chloe, and patient while Chloe attempted it, backing perfectly and softly.

The lesson came to an end, and a very delighted 13yo dismounted and thanked Zoe for a wonderful time.



It was odd to see Zoe uncertain with herself and cant say for sure why - maybe the day? Maybe because I wasn't Juliane and hadn't been out in quite a while? Zoe definitely bonds strongly with one person, and although she and I have had that bond in the past, I just wasn't Juliane now. Regardless, it was wonderful to see Zoe's confidence in herself grow, to see her soften, and come back to that confident and proud horse she is. I am SO VERY PROUD of her and the gentleness and patience she gave to a beginner.

I'm sure horses too have their off days, just like us humans :D What a gem this one is!! :D

(part 2 of Zoe's day to follow)
stardreams
 
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Location: Sammamish, WA

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