Saturday, October 16, 2021
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Diary of an Authentic Makeover: Working with a Happy Horse

This month’s adventures with Hello Carlos had some ups and downs for both of us, but this time I’m happy to say there were a lot of ups and downs!

Like I mentioned before, we’re working on smooth transitions, smoothness and confidence – the latter being the most important, because it’s the one I had to work hard for. While Carlos is (finally) confident and ready to work here at home, moving him to new places is still somewhat of a pain. In our own yard, he does a really good job! Now, I’m not sure if being a twin is why he’s going through such extreme separation anxiety (even if it’s with a horse he’s only seen for two minutes) but if you happen to walk alongside him with a horse, any horse…. Not only does he want to get along with her, he’s making every effort to ignore me and join his new friend and savior! He has yet to learn to be somewhat more confident and I think that will take more time and experience.

We started the month with an injury (both of us actually). I had a sore rib and Carlos had a few areas of skin from a struggle with his pasture mate. Our two-week recovery plans were skewed, but Carlos was able to attend a trail ride (in the rain) as one of our coaches rode it. During this outing, he was really quite unruly as he parted ways with the horse he had just met – actually dangerously ungainly. Everyone got out of it fine, because before the day was over, he was so much better alone than he ever was! I have to hand it to the people helping me do this, as Carlos really has a village that helps him learn how to handle life on his own!

As a race horse, I’m sure it should do most everything with a pony horse. He didn’t know what to do without a horse following him. I may never know why he is like this, but I work every day trying to build his confidence. Finally, our work is paying off, as he appears to be happier under the saddle and travels gently with a soft gait and demeanor of will. He does this in Halabi anyway…. But we’re getting there slowly and even though it’s only four more months left, I still think it’s going to be a really nice Western dressage horse!

My reasons for choosing this major were that I needed one that would help keep him as calm as possible. Although I eventually feel that he will achieve great speed or perhaps a Hunter, at this time it would not be a good idea to challenge him that way. It needs slow and steady at the moment, so balance, responsiveness and suppleness are our goals, both on and off the farm! Hopefully we’ll be ready for an educational show in July, but in the meantime, we’ll, as always, stay in our own lane and not get discouraged!

Fortunately for Carlos (and me!) this isn’t my first rodeo, and I know every horse has its own agenda. As an aftercare professional, I see several horses going through my program each year and seem to naturally have a gift for the show ring. I’ve personally trained several, but one in particular comes to mind… The Whirlwind Romance was so slow we couldn’t even get a workout fast enough to post so he didn’t have a sprint. He left the track on Saturday, and the following weekend he did some flat classes at a local horse show!

This is not the type of horse I’m dealing with right now, and there are certainly many varieties in between, so comparing him to others is not only unfair to Carlos, it’s also pointless. The challenge in all of this for every trainer introduced is that each horse is unique with its limits, quirks, and abilities. Hello Carlos has his own good qualities, and it is my job to promote these qualities and develop others that will benefit him in the future. He’s only four years old, so he really hasn’t finished maturing yet.

On our trip to Authentic makeoverHello Carlos and I have developed a link, and we are pleased to see so many positive changes in it. We went from people warning me not to be harmed, to people who were amazed at the difference in his behavior. We went from him trying to kick me if I got close to his ass, to beg me to scratch his tail. We went from him trying to bite me while grooming, to him joking me for pets. This progress alone is huge for me, because in the beginning, I would ask myself every day what I put myself into!

Therefore, with the time approaching leaving for Kentucky to pursue the moment of truth, I remain confident that this little horse will not disappoint! No matter what he does when we get there, Halo Carlos is a much better horse than he was when he arrived, and he’ll have a much better chance at a new career than his twin. It may be hard for me when it comes time to find his permanent home, especially after all we’ve been through, but I wouldn’t trade our two together for anything. We’ve both gotten better through the trials and tribulations we’ve lived so far, and we still have four months to go! We may have started slowly, but that is the only way this little horse has been able to learn, and what and how he is learning now will stay with him for the rest of his life!

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