What is a soon-to-be rancher (me) to do while we get the needed infrastructure in place? In addition to spending time on the land, getting to know what’s growing and planning what to do once we have water and a barn, I have been preparing Lucy so that she’ll be ready to work once we move to the ranch. The first step to training a horse for any job is to ensure that she is sound, comfortable and fit. To that end, Lucy is spending the month of May at Woodland Stallion Station, an equestrian center with great facilities and access to a host of professionals.
On Tuesday, Lucy got shoes on her front feet. While many horses are fine without shoes, Lucy had a little bit of chipping of the hoof wall that needed the support of shoes as the hooves grow to ensure even regrowth. In time, she may be able to do her job without shoes but she needs them right now. With these great new shoes, she is walking comfortably on gravel and moving well.
To start her physical conditioning and training, I have been working with Lucy in a round pen every third day. This conservative starting interval ensures she will not be overwhelmed or injured as she becomes fit. As a 12-year old horse, she is similar to a 35-year old office worker who will newly be taking up a sport. Slow, careful conditioning is the key to ensuring she will be able to do what is needed. By asking her to walk, trot, canter, halt and change direction while she is moving on a circular path, I will encourage her physical fitness while she becomes attuned to my verbal commands and learns to focus on my cues.
The next step will be to teach Lucy to wear her harness. Without hitching her to a vehicle, I then will “drive” her around the farm to perfect her turns and (most importantly) her ability to stop and stand. I will be sure to upload a picture of Lucy in her harness – which I ordered this past weekend – once it arrives. In the meanwhile, I am happy to report that Lucy is responsive and a delight to train. I am sure I will have many good updates to provide.