Monday, July 19, 2010
I'm joining in on Tuesday's Show & Tail at Angela's West Virginia's Treasures. If you have a cute story and picture of a pet, or any furry (or non-furry) friend, you are welcome to join in! Please check out the rules at her blog, and WELCOME!
Back in the early to mid- '90's I had employment training harness racing horses. Early mornings would find me at the Morrison, Illinois Fairgrounds feeding 4 racers 'in training', then taking them out a bit later for their morning exercise hitched to a jog cart, or when it was too cold and snowy I would attach them to a jogger and exercise 2 horses at a time while I drove around the race track in the comfort of my heated truck! I remember those times fondly, and the horse I have now (Suzy) is one that actually taught ME how to drive harness racing horses! I love to hitch her to her cart, and go trotting down the road...very relaxing for me, and pleasant for Suzy too. She'd rather be hitched than be ridden under saddle any day.
On Sunday Mr. Wonderful and I visited some friends in Fremont. It's fun to catch up on all the news in people's lives, and after a bit my friend Pam and I went out to check out her animals. She got a black pony for her daughter, and they bought a nice harness and little cart for Thunder to pull. Thunder must be around 8 years old or so, and he's a cutie, but he's been spoiled and has his own ideas of how things should work. Pam has ridden horses for years, but she's the first to admit that she has no knowledge concerning driving, carts, or harness. She has hitched the pony and driven him maybe 6 times or so, but Thunder gets to do mostly what Thunder wants to do, and he's getting pushy and head strong. She asked for my help, and of course I was game! We 'tweaked' the adjustments of his harness, we hitched him to the cart, and away we went!
Thunder was supposedly Amish trained. That means he took off at a fast road trot, but didn't like to walk or stop/stand still. We don't know how long he was with the Amish - could have been started pulling the cart, then perhaps was sold, sat around in a pasture, and never worked again until Pam got him. Very uncertain history. As we went down the road it became clear Thunder knew how to do a nice turn with the cart, a pivot, and a working trot as well as the faster road trot. He disliked walking, but he got a chance to learn how to START to like it anyways! Stopping was another matter. He would pause, then begin prancing in place, then turning around to face the other direction, and attempt to trot back home again. Not cool.
I worked with him, as Pam sat next to me in the cart, and we got him going again with the tap of a whip on his behind. There were periodic starts and stops, and one time Thunder decided to see if he could step backwards and rear up to attempt to take advantage of the situation. He re-thought that little trick, and was made to see the error of his ways. We headed towards home, and PASSED it! After he showed he could be calm about going where I directed him, Pam took the lines on the way back home. She drove him in a nice little circle around the yard before returning to the hitching post. We worked on some ground manners after cooling Thunder down with a fine mist of water on his warm body. He clearly wants to please when given the opportunity, but just needs more work to show him that no matter who was in the drivers' seat, he must listen to where the DRIVER wishes to go!
It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon! My friend has some work cut out for her, and I'm sure Thunder will try to pull another stunt or two before he becomes the perfect Equine Citizen, but he'll meet his match with Pam on the lines!
Time to GET GOING! Bye for now!