As you might have guessed from the name of the blog and Paige’s post, I have a young horse. She is not as dramatically young as Paige is old, but she is still my baby. I guess it’s similar to having kids. Sometimes I realize that Kricket is SIX YEARS OLD and I freak out a little. I still think of her as this:
If you slogged through my post about Paige then you know I bred her to create Kricket when our short-lived show career ended. It had been a dream of mine ever since we leased Paige because I LOOOOOVED Shifty. Shifty was the resident stallion and one of the sweetest horses in the entire world. If given the chance to breed a mare now, I would: A) realize that it is must more cost effective and better for the horse community at large if I were to just adopt a baby or B) take into account the conformation, medical history, bloodlines etc of said mare and possible breeding stallions. But Shifty was so pretty! And sweet. And athletic! He is reining trained and, while I have no idea what a good reining horse is, he would do a turn on the haunches from a shift in your seat. Good enough for me!
He continues to be a fabulous example of how a stallion should behave. Since he is 19 now and lives at a barn that is overwhelmingly a boarding/training/lesson facility, he doesn’t get a whole lot of action these days. (Riding or otherwise.) About once a year for the past few years I would drag him away from his miniature donkey and groom and tack him up. After a few minutes of getting his jollies out in the roundpen, we would ride. Never once did he buck or run away with me. He was ridden ONCE A YEAR and never acted up. (Even when I put an english saddle and colorful saddle pad on him!) I may not have been informed enough to consider conformation or other things, but I sure as hell did a good job of breeding for temperament.
Kricket was born almost a month early. Consequently, she was born outside. I rarely leave my horses in their stalls unless there is bad weather, an injury or a similar situation. Obviously, impending birth would count as one of these situations if we had thought it was THAT impending. In fact, Kricket was born LITERALLY the night before we were going to start “Mare Watch 2006.” Thankfully this at least meant we had the straw for her stall and the partition taken out to make an extra big stall.
I was a senior in high school which meant my alarm already went off at 6:00AM so I was less than pleased to get a phone call before then. I also was super not expecting a birth announcement August 25 when she wasn’t due until mid-September. So when Bill said, “Krista. There’s another horse in the pasture,” I had no idea what was going on. I quickly recovered and got my butt down to Byhalia to see my wild filly. (She was born outside, after all.)
I had about a thousand names on a list to choose from. When I met her, those went out the window. She was what Steven and I refer to as “Feral Phil” (Phil being short for filly.) Those whole few hours outside had obviously been enough for her to gain some real spunk and every time you would put your hand on her teeny rump, you would get back a teeny little buck. Like a cricket! My name being Krista Kriz, I thought it was necessary to pass that “K” along and thus Kricket was born.
She was a fantastic baby. Obviously she was handled from day 1 (if a few hours late) and her demeanor shows it to this day. She LOVES people. Consequently, we learned a few basics immediately. First and foremost was give to pressure. I could tie her without worry from a very young age (though I rarely did) because she is an A+ student. I would watch her pull back on her leadrope, feel that pressure and then walk forward to give herself a release. Next was to use that principle to get her to move back by sending energy down the leadline (also the yo-yo game in Parelli.) This was a very important step because did I mention she loves people? It was a bit difficult to get her to respect personal space but now she will back up with the waggle of a finger.
She got a lot of attention and groundschooling as a little one, but I knew I wanted to take things slow with her. (Okay and I still am.) Paige has arthritis and other chiropractic issues that I associate with the fact that she was doing speed events at the AQHA level at TWO YEARS OLD. She also tends to get very anxious and has separation anxiety issues. These might not be related to starting under saddle too fast, but it sure can’t have helped. So I put a saddle on Kricket at 2 and didn’t sit on her until just before she was 3. (Sit, mind you. That was all at the time.)
From there our training progressed at a snail’s pace. It still is, and I don’t have a problem with that. It took us most of the way through college to canter both leads for more than half an arena at a time. Again, that doesn’t bother me. I’m not a full-time trainer so I can’t expect her to be a full-time student. (Though some scholarships would be nice…) I think I can safely say she’s “broke” now. You know, in Craislist terminology. Ear clipping still eludes us, though. She hates the tickley sensation so I can’t legitimately say she “bathes, loads and clips.” I’m sure we could work through it if I cared enough but she needs that ear fluff to ward off bugs so I leave it be.
Kricket has taught me so much it isn’t even funny. She is intelligent and picks things up quickly, but she is also a boss mare. She’s at the top in every pasture she’s ever been in which has made her training a bit harder than it could have been. She absolutely does not respond to aggression or bullying (At least not a response you want.) If you are clear and patient with her, though, you will find she is eager to please. She is also completely fearless on the trails and otherwise. We impressed people with her bulldozing capabilities when we pasture boarded on 125 acres when she was 4. I tried to keep the jumping to a bare minimum, but she would walk over or through anything that was in her way. No hesitation. That translated to some fun on the cross country field when we were in Auburn when she turned 5. Her only fear: crossrails. She will do them, but just something about them makes her hesitate. Oh well, no professional crossrails for us.
I hope to enjoy Krick for many many years. Sure, she might need a joint supplement because she’s slightly sickle hocked, but I would take her personality over perfect conformation any day. She licks my dad in the face, can go up and down stairs and plays with my dog. I didn’t breed for a horse. I bred for a partner and that’s exactly what I got.