Monday, April 14, 2008

My Misadventures with Gayliena

First of all, I'd like to thank Marilyn for guest blogging with us yesterday. I hope all of you will check out her book and her website.

I promised last time that I relate some of my trials and tribulations with my first warmblood and a mare, at that. I bought Gayliena, AKA Gailey, as a barely broke 3-year-old with an attitude. She didn't haul in a trailer but we managed to get her in and haul her straight to a trainer's. After a recent injury on a horse, no way was I breaking a young horse, especially a HUGE young horse.

Six months later, I brought her home. She still didn't load. In fact, her trailing issues had turned into a full-blown phobia. Even worse, the only way I could ride her without her balking and threatening to go up, was by begging my daughter-in-law to stand in the arena and hold a lunge whip. As long as Cindy held the whip near my mare, she'd move forward. So that's how our summer went.

I couldn't haul her to lessons because she wouldn't load. To make matters worse, she'd chase me around her paddock with her teeth bared or turn and try to kick me. Yes, it was the summer from hell. I can't tell you how many times I sat down and cried regarding my supposed dream-horse-turned-nightmare. I couldn't even sell her because how can you sell a horse that won't load? I'd ridden horses all my life, but they'd always been dead broke and safe about about 4-5 inches smaller. This mare was way beyond my abilities at the time.

Realizing I wasn't getting anywhere on my own, I enlisted the help of the first in a long line of cowboys (horse whisperer types) to help me. After a year of working with the first cowboy, I had a mare that no longer chased me around, and was actually quite personable and sweet under her alpha mare exterior. We could "join up" and trot and canter safely around the arena.

One problem, she still didn't load. He tried everything, then conceded that he didn't know what to do. So he referred me to his mentor, a man who was a disciple of Buck Brannaman. Off she went to Greg's place. In two weeks he had her loading.

Life was good. I was hauling to lessons. We were finally on-track. In fact, I learned a very important lesson that summer from my dressage trainer. The mare was a bluffer. If you called her bluff, she'd back right down. She was also a little lazy and bucking and rearing were way too much work. Once I realized that she was actually quite safe under saddle, things improved in leaps and bounds.

Until the day that I hauled her to a horse show with an undetected wasps nest in the manger area of the horse trailer, and we were back to the drawing board.

To be continued...


Kit Ehrman said...

Wow, Jami,

You've certainly had your work cut out for you with Gailey, but look how sweet she is in that photo. I love that your insturctor figured her out and pegged her as a bluffer. The horse whisperer guy sounded neat, too.

I'll be interested to read more. :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the next episode. What a pretty mare! One question: how do you get on her? My 15.1 horse seems big to me now. (I'm 5'2") Thanks for a fun post.--Laura

Mary Paine said...

Hi Jami,

You definitely have courage and perserverance! I can't wait for the next installment in your and Gayliena's story.