Hey, y’all! Sam here with a short Ember Update. Due to the extreme amount of storms we’ve had, I only got to work with Ember one day this week, but that day was truly exceptional.
On Tuesday night, we took both Ellie and Ember to the public covered arena. A friend and I got a lot of competition practice out of Ellie, but Ember had to stay tied outside of the arena. She’s just gotten her Coggins pulled earlier that day, so until the results come back negative, she isn’t allowed in the arena.
She stood tied at the trailer for a few hours while we worked Ellie, watching all the other riders and their equines. I made sure to keep an eye on her, and every time I looked over, I saw her eyes on me. She was truly curious about everything going on… I can’t wait until the playday on the 27th when we’ll actually be able to bring her in the arena.
Thursday was the only time I was able to get some good one-on-one work done with her. An old family-friend of ours lent us a saddle small enough to fit Ember, so for the first time, this sweet pony was ridden. Now let me just say, she’s not so sweet when someone’s on her. Don’t get me wrong, she does fine with a bareback rider, but not with a saddle and bridle.
She had no idea what to do, so she wanted to do her own thing. When I told her she was under my command… She didn’t take it very well. She went into a good bucking fit until she realized I wasn’t coming off so easily. After that, it was smooth sailing.
We walked around, trotted, and loped. She might’ve galloped too, but I was hesitant to try with the slick ground. We rode over a tarp and rode around the vacuum cleaner as my little sister cleaned out the car.
She’s a quick learner. I taught her how to back, speed up, and turn, all in one session. Of course, she knew how to do these things in-hand already, but being ridden is a very different story.
When we were done riding, I replaced the bridle with a halter and did some more groundwork with her. We lunged and did liberty work while she still had the saddle on. A couple weeks ago, we mastered the stay command. I could tell her to whoa, go inside to watch a movie, then when I come back out, she’s in that same position. She hasn’t grazed or even taken a single step out of place. At one point I put my tablet outside and turned the camera on while I went inside for a while. When I watched the recording, Ember had been staring at the door that entire time. She hadn’t moved a muscle. Now, the stay command is a huge deal in horsemanship. When you can tell your horse to stay put without being tied, that’s a big advantage.
I’ve been constantly practicing the stay command with her since she arrived, but even after she’d mastered it, she still wouldn’t come to me without a halter. Sure, she’d lead and back at liberty, but when given the stay command, she wouldn’t come to me unless I put a halter on her and tugged at the lead rope. But yesterday, we made a breakthrough.
I told her to stay while I went to get a drink of water, and sure enough, she was right there when I came back out. Then I tried for the umpteenth time giving her the vocal command to come forward without any physical pressure, and she did it! She walked toward me after being told to stay. We repeated this several times yesterday. Every time I clicked, she’d come to me at liberty. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve almost mastered this.
This next week, we’ll be focusing on riding and lunging. While she’s pretty good at lunging already, I want to absolutely master it because I’d like to eventually get her to lunge at liberty. No halter, no lungeline, no whip. I’ve never been able to do this with a horse, let alone a rescue horse. But there’s a first time for everything, right?
When Ember and I started out, we had two and a half months to prepare for the training show in October. Now we only have one month. Our competitors all started with three and a half months, but Ember wasn’t available that first month due to the foal she was being weaned from. Do we have a chance against these other horse trainers? I don’t know. These are people who’ve been training horses for many years, and this is my first-ever training competition. Whether we win or lose, you can bet that Ember and I will do our absolute best in the show.
Well, that was a pretty long article for just one day worth of work this week. Comment below if you’ve ever shown a horse in a competition! Sam out!