Month: September 2015

Patience Pays Off

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Koko & TJ
Koko & TJ

A variety of numerous, small gains has kept my (lack of) patience in check for the past few weeks. Archery season opened in PA a week ago so we’ve been staying in the ring on Saturday & adventuring out on small rides from the farm on Sunday. He’s still not as relaxed as he could be, but I’m not walking as much. We did ride down to the creek, played in the water and got a drink. TJ waited somewhat patiently while Koko splashed and got a drink, then we rode home. A huge success that day!

We’ve been doing a tiny bit of canter work, when he’s told me he’s up to it and only a few strides before he quit. Yesterday was cooler and there was a nip in the air … fall is here! Both horses were energetic and ready to go. Since it was Saturday we needed to stay in the ring and right around the barn. We walked and warmed up, stretched and softened while Koko was running around the ring like a fool, but that’s fairly standard her her.  I asked for a trot and TJ cantered. Every time I asked for a trot, he cantered.* Apparently he was feeling really good and was tired of the slower, shoulder building work we’ve been doing and he wanted to play like Koko, so we did! Yesterday ended up being a play day. He wanted to canter after Koko, so we did. He wanted to race Koko, so we did. It was his day to do what he wanted, at the speed he wanted. We cantered to the far end of the ring, turned and were cantering back. He started picking up speed. I asked him to slow down and the answer was no. He was having a ball and wasn’t stopping! The gate was coming up fast. I’ve never seen him so full of energy and we’ve never done anything at this speed so I had no idea what his intentions were. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit rattled. Right at the gate he slammed on the brakes. After that I need to slow down for a few minutes. I could hardly get him to walk, much less stand still. I finally convinced him to stand and settle for a few minutes … he fell asleep.

Our day ended with hand grazing and spending some time just hanging out.  What an awesome day!

* It’s a huge canter and he takes close to 7 1/2′ of my 8′ reins when he stretches out. I’ve been riding horses under 15h for so long, TJ’s big, rocking canter is going to take some getting used to. I did canter before I bought him, but it was that half assed cripple Western Pleasure lope. He did it once since I owned him. I encouraged him to stretch out and he’s never done it again.

Yesterday wasn’t a fluke. Although the energy level was lower, TJ wanted to do more of the same today. We cantered and raced. He forgot how to trot more than a few steps again. It looks like his shoulder is well on it’s way to a full recovery.

I’m allowed to ride him scary places and with just a little encouragement, he’s going wherever I ask. All of the slow work and patience for the last few months really is paying off!


A Day of Discovery

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A day off from work & I didn’t spend it with my horse. Shame on me, but not really. By 10 am it was hot, humid and buggy so I decided to take the day to decompress from my new job and get some overdue house cleaning done. Something possessed me to do some more digging into TJ’s past and oh, the things I found!

Still curious about his good breeding and no show record, I decided AQHA records was a good place to start. His sire has a long list of champion sons and daughters. His second dam provided another impressive list. The makings of another champion show horse, yet TJ has no record with AQHA.

TJ's show performance pedigree
TJ’s show performance pedigree

I had previously found quite a bit of info on his sire, A Good Machine, but not really anything about his dam, Impulsive Lil Lena.

While I was digging around in AQHA records, I pulled ownership records for sire and dam, as well as  produce records for his dam. While I was looking over her ownership records it started to get interesting. Impulsive Lil Lena was owned by Patti Hamlin (same as TJ’s breeder). She was sold to Cleve Wells during the time TJ would have been conceived and then sold back to Patti Hamlin less than a year later and a few weeks before TJ was born.

Dam's ownership records
Dam’s ownership records

I can rattle off a list of reined cow horse and reining trainers, but I have absolutely no clue who trains for western pleasure. I mentioned Cleve Wells to my husband and he said he’s huge. Hmmm … maybe Cleve Wells could give me some insight on TJ’s past. Maybe he trained TJ. So I started to dig. I found him Facebook and sent him a PM, asking if he was the owner of Impulsive Lil Lena at one time. I dug some more …. then I got a bigger shovel and continued my digging. Then my hopes turned into horror. I found numerous show results from 2007 thru at least 2011 listing Patti Hamlin as the breeder and Cleve Wells as the rider. I also found suspensions from AQHA for abuse, reports of severe abuse that included a broken jaw, numerous infections from spurs, tied in a stall that had food and water, but not being able to reach either. The list goes on. Abuse substantiated by vet reports, police reports, photos and videos dating back to 2007. Given the dates, connections between breeder and trainer, combined with the deep rooted terror in my horse and his mental fragility, I believe I could have very well found TJ’s trainer. If these types of things were done to such a sensitive horse as TJ, he wouldn’t (mentally) have been able to compete in the show ring.

As horrifying and sad as this information may be, it just gives me more insight to his past which enables me to help him more.

After all of the depressing info I found, there were a few fun things that turned up. TJ is an Incentive Fund foal and he’s been genetic typed.  He also has a half sister. Impulsive Lil Lena had 2 foals!  Tj’s sister is a 2008 brown mare by Hot Fudge Chip. her name is Rich N Chocolaty. She has no show record either. I wonder who her trainer was ….