Now that Tarma is more or less settled in, my thoughts turn to what intentions I have for our partnership, and which parts of those I think we can realistically reach in the next year or so. She’s proving herself a smart, careful lady, although getting to know her is a longer process that I have to trim in my impatience to “do all the things”.
A few nights ago, despite the cold, I sat outside her stall and asked nothing of her. When she came over to check me out, I rewarded her, asking for small things and small treats to keep her interested. After about 10 minutes she was done and went out into the run, which is a change for me. Flash would not have left as long as he thought I had food or could provide scratches, which was pretty much always. My desire to have that deeper relationship on mutual terms and all the stupid human things I have to ask of her are a bit at odds sometimes.
She did show me a wonderful flash of personality the following afternoon, the highlight of my week (until I learned what my yearly raise was this morning!) My plan was to extend from riding two loops around the same orchard, with pauses to graze, to three with only one grazing break. Tarma decided this was much too boring and found a brand new path down along the river that I had only a vague idea existed, and we followed it a short way through the woods, including leaping over a stream. All of this was on a loose rein with that quick marching gait of hers, with no feeling of spookiness or uncertainty at all. It was my first fully magical moment with her, and I’m hooked.
The major things we had to work on the past two months included:
- Vetting: We did a PPE with hoof and leg X-rays for the farrier, as well as her yearly dental work, vaccines, microchipping and dental. I also hit her with a solid two doses of wormer over three weeks.
- Farrier: I switched to my friend’s farrier as he’s a bit easier to communicate with and takes time to teach instead of just trim and go, and it gives me an excuse to haul to friend’s house once a month. Her toes were long and her soles are thin, so between dialing in her supplements, exercise and a four week trim cycle, we should have her feet really solid in a few more months.
- Feed: I’ve got her on a different, more targeted regime than Flash had. She gets 1 flake of alfalfa nightly, free choice low sugar local 24/7, with soaked beet pulp every night, mixed with: 1 lb LMF Super Supplement, 2 TB iodized salt, 1 scoop Biotin powder, 1 scoop Magnesium, 1/2 scoop Vitamin E, 1 scoop copper, 1 scoop zinc, and 1 scoop Coco Omega (all from Ukele, minus the LMF which I get at Wilco).
- Turnout: Tarma was in a herd situation with a shared round bale when I bought her. She had to live alone while at my friend’s house, but now she’s settled in at my awesome boarding barn. She spends her days out in a massive pasture with three others and stalled at night. This gives her feet a chance to dry out so I can keep on top of the ever present threat of thrush. Every night I clean out her feet, spray with Listerine and lately I’ve been packing with Hoof Mud and this is more or less kept it at bay.
I’ve ordered her rear hoof boots, as her soles are still a tad thin and everywhere we can ride this time of year has big gravel or pavement due to the mud. Once those come in we can do our first real trail ride together. I need that benchmark to figure out where we are at fitness and relationship wise before I can set any real intentions beyond the “get to know each other” and “diamond polishing” stage. I do have some general ones, if not super specific right now:
- Join the “Walk 100 Miles” Challenge. It’s more geared towards those bringing up young horses, but it’s good for getting to know a new horse as well.
- Body work: Once we have a few solid, sweaty trail rides under our belt, I’ll have a body worker out for Tarma and have the saddle fit rechecked, as I’ve already seen a change in her body shape with the diet and little work we’ve been doing.
- Comfort with stupid human things: I’ve noticed that nothing natural really scares her, like the ducks taking off from the pond right next to us, but she hates the tractors and is deeply suspicious of plastic bottles and the wash rack. While she’s a better loader and traveler than Flash, she still hesitates for a moment, which I’m hoping is mostly because all but once that I’ve hauled her, her life has changed or she’s been drugged and poked at.
- Lessons: I am planning for some lessons with my old trainer, the clinician who helped me with 70% of Flash’s issues, and a new trainer focused on the Mountain Trail obstacles, including the stubbornly elusive balance beam. I’m also hoping to join my friends in visiting Bolender Horse Park again, although for lessons and play days and not an actual show!
Based on how she handles the above will let me know if this is going to be more of a home body year, or if we can try some stretch goals, like joining my trainer’s group at Kalama Horse Camp in June or hauling over the pass to ride with some friends and ETS events near Bend. An even stretchier goal is attending an endurance ride, which will require us to see how she is in the corral panels I bought and around a large number of other horses, all doing their own thing.
I will put a big plug here for my best friend, who not only found this mare’s sale ad through the weird magic of Facebook but also fully enabled and encouraged me to snatch her up (including watching the trailering video the seller sent me and pointing out “Now there’s a mountain climbing ass”). May there be many happy trails together in our future, and by future I mean this year damnit!