Ellie Week #1

Week one is almost done, and I am really, really happy with Ellie! She is more lovely than I imagined, and I can tell that she comes from a home where she was well loved. She looks to everyone for cuddles and is very comfortable around people. Often, when I get a horse from the track, it takes a few months for the horse to realize that our stall cleaners are nice and won’t boss the horse around. Similarly, when we feed food, that there is no reason to be defensive or worried.  And it takes those a while to adjust to having a more friendly, working relationship with their humans.

But, I’m jumping ahead of myself here. Let me start with the process of picking the horses. We had a conference call to the powers that be at Emerald Downs, Sophia McKee is Director of Marketing at EMD and she has been the main organizer for the Prodigious Fund 100 Day Challenge. As you know, she put together the video with all of the TBs that we were to choose from. I mentioned a little bit of positive attributes about each horse on Facebook…. But here is the real scoop! I had 5 horses that I knew I would be happy working with. The Last Say, Underfunded Fun, Solar, Storm Inthe Harbor, and Super Symmetry were my favorites. Ideally, I wanted a horse who was not currently in training because it would take longer for it to detox from being race ready to becoming a calm horse in a learning frame of mind.  I also didn’t want a horse who was too old, and that is what eliminated the beautiful white horse, Summer Snow, despite the fact that he appears to be the ideal stamp for an event horse.

Sophia drew numbers for each of our names and that determined the pick order – I got number two!  Thrilling! And at this point my heart was pounding and I was nervous. Which is really funny, because I wasn’t winning the lottery or anything, but it sure felt like it! I talked to Devin Robel later that day and she admitted the same feeling. We had a good laugh about it.

After I chose Ellie, I was told that she was owned by the well-known Bergsma family who is a three generation family of veterinarians for Emerald Downs. I called the granddaughter, Jenyka, who has just graduated from vet school, and got as much information about Ellie as I could as I was driving out the door for Inavale HT in Oregon. Because I was out of town, my working students went to pick her up and I got a text that said: She is even more lovely in person than on the video! Yea!!! Jenyka did say that Ellie was last ridden about 2 years ago, and that immediately caused me to think that I better take the first week slowly. Horses can do very “funny” things (and that’s not funny HAHA) when they are rusty to the rider.

This Monday was my first day working with her. It was not the best of starts. Neither was Tuesday. She was out of her mind with worry. I wasn’t very prepared those first two days for the video blog… so I didn’t have the camera sitting in the arena waiting. Now, I’m better prepared and it will be within arms reach for the next 100 days. I do have some stills from Tuesday – and you can see where her brain is = out to lunch. Her neck and back are tight, she is staring out of the arena non-stop and she never even saw me working with her… not once. She was panicked about Lear in his field with his super-cool-all-body-flysheet, and I know she thought he was a polar bear. So, Tuesday night I realized that I needed to do something different to get her brain engaged. I often will try clicker training for shy horses to help them come out of their shell. While she is not shy, she and I sure needed a new way of communicating. I’m no expert at all at clicker training!!!!, but I can do a little bit and it usually seems to help. So, that was my new plan. If you have 14 minutes to waste, watch the video to see how it all goes.

Click here for video link.

 

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Other posts in this series...

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    Hello everyone! I am really excited about this week's video. I am totally thrilled with how Ellie responded to this week's training, and I think its f
  • Ellie Week #1 (July 5, 2013)
    Week one is almost done, and I am really, really happy with Ellie! She is more lovely than I imagined, and I can tell that she comes from a home where she was well loved. She looks to everyone for cuddles and is very comfortable around people. Often, when I get a horse from the track, it takes a few months for the horse to realize that our stall cleaners are nice and won't boss the horse around. Similarly, when we feed food, that there is no reason to be defensive or worried.  And it takes those a while to adjust to having a more friendly, working relationship with their humans.

7 Responses to “Ellie Week #1”

  1. Lezlie Wolff

    Wow Meika, BRILLIANT! Thank you for you tremendous communication skills, both with Ellie and with us, the audience. You articulate and translate beautifully the conversation with her and your raw skills are a delight to watch. Very satisfying, give yourself a carrot:-)

  2. Leah Anderson

    That’s so awesome, she is just gorgeous. I used clicker training to help my nervous distracted boy… it worked so well!

  3. Kimberly Clinton Schmidt

    I loved this video Meika! Outstanding how you took the time it takes for Ellie. 🙂 Looking forward to some more positive relationship building!

  4. Camilla Mortensen

    Lovely. So excited to watch her come along!

  5. Lindsey

    Meika! This is all so cool! I completely agree with Lezlie above– you are so good at articulating and translating your conversation with her– this is why in my book, you are one of the best trainers. You are talented my friend!

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