Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A New Confidence

When I made the crazy decision to buy a pregnant mare, I did it knowing I had the support of my family and friends. We made it through the pregnancy and the birth, to find a new challenge: A Bouncing Baby Boy ;)
Already trying to move away from Mom

Since Roscoe was our first foal, we learned day by day. We had nothing to compare him to, so we treated him like we treat any of our horses. From the moment, he appeared in our lives he has had his own opinions. He also came with the huge personality.
"Yes, I am wonderful. Adore Me!"
 Roscoe was independent and did not have issues moving distances from Rosemary.Roscoe two weeks old
He also came with a healthy rear and loved to come up and jump at you.
 After a few bruises you start to realize that yes he is cute, but he can hurt too. We all worked hard at discouraging him from rearing. Over the next months we made progress, but in stressful times he would revert to naughty behavior. I won't lie, for me I would get nervous to handle him when he got really rotten.
That nervousness and his continued episodes combined with the fact that we were considering keeping him a stallion drove home that we needed to get him under control. Peggy is the one who showed us Clinton Anderson's Method. Her husband helped get a program for Wounded Warriors started which utilizes the caisson horses for therapy. To help bring consistency to the program they began to use the Method. More about the program later, but what Peggy saw really impressed her. So she got use some videos and books. We also started watching his TV programs.
Although we don't have the formal kit for his method, we picked up some of his training. When Roscoe started misbehaving, we would take him out to work on the line. Gradually we both started learning the expectations and how to handle the steps. Roscoe picked it all up really fast and enjoyed the work. It was funny when we realized one day that Roscoe had not worked in a while, because he had not misbehaved. We started to actually have to plan to work him. What a difference.
Recently I realized that the nerves I had when his acted up, no longer effected my ability to handle him. I know now that if I do certain exercises, he will find his head and come back to reality. One day he came in the barn, bucked, reared and said "F you." I walked up to him, got him to yield his hind end and back up. He dropped his head and chewed. I turned my back letting him walk up next to me and put his head down asking for a treat. Then I wrapped my hand around his cheek and walked him to his stall. When you have the tools to do a job, that job is not so scary.
When I took this picture of someone handling Roscoe at a show in 2012, I was impressed she was so calm. Now I feel like I could do this too. Though he is much better now.

Roscoe is a smart, opinionated nearly 3yr old stallion, so we have those moments. That's okay as long as he remembers me when I ask. With spring coming, he is feeling frisky. He bucked at me the other day and I knew he needed work. I took him out in the snow wearing his blanket and put him to work. It did not take much before he knew I meant business and settled into responding. "Yes Ma'am" The next day he did not act up, but I worked him again. This time I was able to take his blanket off first. He was awesome. The snow made him pick his feet up and bend his joints. He dropped his head and pushed too. Since he was so accommodating, I took some pictures.
Two eyes, Progress

Nature's solution to lazy ponies

And open stride

Dropping his head to push

 Then we worked canter. He figured out quickly that when I pointed and clucked he better canter or I would use the whip. We worked both directions and then I asked for quick changes. In the snow he really had to stop and roll back to turn on his haunches to make the change. Did I mention we did this at the canter? I don't know who had more fun, me or him. His responses were sharp and true. By the end we could do a quarter circle at canter, stop, roll back and leap into canter the other direction for a quarter circle before repeating. I wish I had one more hand to have taken pictures at the canter too.

Neither of us is perfect, but as long as we eventually get "two eyes instead of two heels"(a Clinton Anderson saying) we are on the right track. Now I shall bask in my new confidence. Ah, life is good :)


  1. Yay for confidence! I know nothing about stallions, but I know teaching them to have manners is important. Keep up the good work!

    1. Yes we said from the beginning that Roscoe's behavior would determine the length of time he stays a stallion. So far so good.

  2. Confidence is the best, especially when it doesn't come naturally and you begin to find it :)

    1. These Cobs have done wonders for my confidence which took a major hit when we first got Winston. It is a great feeling.

  3. I am so glad you feel that way! And I am also glad that it means Roscoe is staying a stud. There's a lot to learn about handling studs and babies that the normal horse owner just does not understand.

    1. Basically we learned to treat him, even as a baby, like the horse he was going to be. We expected the same behavior from him that we would from our others. Worked for us and the exercises just reinforced everything and let us know we can handle him. You need to come with Lisa one of these times and see all the ponies :)

  4. Sounds like everything is under control. Good job, Nicole & Roscoe! I am so happy that you have kept him intact. He is an extremely good breed candidate, with awesome bloodlines. Can't wait to see some babies! Also loved the foaling pictures. It's my favorite part of being a breeder.

    1. You bred a superior pony that is behaving so that we all get to see some babies. Pat yourself on the back because I never would have thought anyone would convince us to maintain a stallion. That is one of my favorite pictures because he came out the way he meant to go on in his life, determined.