Friday, August 15, 2008

Use Your Mirrors - Part II

I'm quite pleased with myself. I was thinking yesterday in the car about horses (duh), and for whatever reason I started thinking about a friend of ours who purchased a 4-year old, really, really nice Appendix gelding. He was relatively inexpensive, and basically could w/t/c and lead. She was a beginner basically, and he was an incredibly pleasant horse to work with. Mellow, calm, cheerful, willing to work, though of course he had his 4-year-old moments. Most greenbroke horses do not do super well with beginning riders (says the girl who bought a green OTTB as a green rider), but he could effectively be called a saint. They've progressed very far, and she even started learning to jump on him before they moved to Texas. I'm sure she'll continue once things settle down from the move.


The point of that is, I was thinking about how nice of a horse he was -- pleasant, cooperative, calm, and very VERY well put-together. A beautiful cross. And I thought, why, I should buy a four or five year old Appendix, work with it for 6 months to a year or so, and sell it as a really lovely eventing/jumping packer!

Depending on the horse and its temperament, I think I could produce a Novice-level packer within 6 months, maybe Training if I took lots of lessons since I've never ridden at that level.

Those horses go for lots of money.

So I went on Dreamhorse, and there are some very nice, rather inexpensive Appendixes within 75 miles of me. A few of them were almost exactly what I was looking for (the one I liked best was a 6 year old, but he's also broke, with lots of miles rather than arena time -- perfect), and one was almost exactly what I was looking to sell: a really nice, mellow, 4-year old (I think that's a bit young) mare who is doing really nicely in lower-level eventing, for sale for $15k. Don't know if that's what she'll sell for, but she's also not jumping Novice (I think), nor is she a packer. She also looks like a really nice horse that could sell for a lot more than that if someone put a few years of eventing experience on her.

I don't know if I could do it, but I think I'd have a fair chance. The only reason I don't know is because I've never TRIED, so I think one of these days I'm gonna pick me up an Appendix and see what I can do! I would love to try a resale project, I think it would be a blast and would really inspire me to ride every day. Ultimately it doesn't really matter if I sell it for a profit, since I know that's pretty hard to do. It'd be worth it just for the experience. It would also be an excellent chance for me to test my skills, since sometimes I get quite full of myself until I realize I'm rather inexperienced. But I digress.

(Okay, edit: I've just talked to Mom and I've decided that even if I don't go with this exact plan, I'd really really like to try a resale project this year. I'm going to see if during school I'll be working enough hours consistently to support a 2nd horse's board/whatever, and if so, we'll start looking this fall. It will be a fun adventure if it works out!)

Without further ado, onto Mirrors Part II.

Actions: your band will mirror these, too. Horses, as I learned -- and relearned, time and time again -- will follow your actions.

When you're teaching horses, you must be consistent in your actions. If, in four days, you ask your young horse to canter in four new ways, it's likely that he won't understand what you want. Being a good horse, he'll probably try to do what you ask. He may give you the wrong response, trying to figure out what you want. He may become frustrated and confused and resist you. He may guess that you want the canter, but chances are that he's not sure, and the quality of the canter will suffer for this. Much the same, if you are not consistent in your actions with the band, then your band will be inconsistent in their response. They will not understand and they will not respond smoothly or correctly.

Horses will also get away with what they can. For example, every time I walk up to my horse's stall, I open the door, grab her halter, and expect her to walk up to the door so I can halter her and lead her out. Every time. She does this because she knows that if she ignores me, I will walk inside, use the lead rope to make her walk quickly around her stall a few times, then drive her to the stall door where she stands and lets me halter her. She knows that every time, whether she likes it or not, she is expected to meet me there, and if she doesn't, there are consequences. If I allow her to ignore me once or twice, and I walk into her stall to halter her instead of holding my expectations at the same level, a funny thing starts to happen. More and more often she ignores me when I walk up, until I start reinforcing my expectations 100% of the time again. Horses will get away with whatever you let them get away with.

Sound much like a freshman to you?

If your actions are consistent with your expectations, every single time, your band will respond to that by giving you consistent reactions. Consistent actions will produce consistent reactions.

Next up: leaving your emotions at the door. To be continued, again . . .


ORSunshine said...

Hey Many, you very likely have a buyer right here for your project. Not that I really want to do eventing, but I do want to do dressage and my daughter wants to jump. We'll need about a year to be ready for that.

I am anxiously awaiting your "leaving emotions at the door". My almost 14 yr old is a very sensitive girl. Very sensitive. I'm constantly telling her she has to leave her emotions at the arena door. Arrgh! Somedays I wish she were more like me!

Anyways, I plan on having her read that installment when it's done.

mugwump said...

BEWARE! I have had to give up my projects because I can't sell them. I find excuses not to sell them, over and over again. I'm down to my last one, and I'll never see a profit because I procrastinated so long.I'd still be stalling, but I have a partner on him, and she's getting irate.
I now permanently own 4 projects, when push came to shove I couldn't give them up. Ahem.

manymisadventures said...

Don't tell me that, Mugs! My mother has already questioned whether or not I'd be able to sell the project horse...The problem is I just fall so in love with my animals. If I was really tough with myself, I think I could do it.

Sunshine, there is hope yet, I promise! The reason I can write this "leave your emotions at the door" post is because I struggled with that for a few years. Just ask my parents, or my trainer -- from age 14 to 16 or even a bit of 17, I had a pretty short fuse with my horse. Especially in stressful situations, like shows.

Looking back I'm ashamed of the way I acted sometimes. But, the good news is that I learned from it, grew out of it, and I'm much much better for the experience.

Esquared said...

Projects can be great. I buy a project horse each spring and then sell it in fall b/c I'm just not smart like that. However I buy them entirely untrained and then sell them with training and miles so its a bit different type of prospect. I find that the best time to buy is fall and the best time to sell is spring (thats the way the prices and market work out). But Mugs is right, it can be really tough selling them. My filly last year was never meant to be a resale project but circumstances changed and my parents didn't like her. I don't think I'll have that problem this year. But you really just have to keep in mind every time that you're with them that you aren't keeping them, you're just training them to sell and later finding them a better/new home where (in my case) they'll be shown.

ORSunshine said...

Ah! But Many! She doesn't have a short fuse, she just breaks down into tears! She's afraid she'll hurt Charlie if she kicks him when I tell her to or get after him when he's being pushy.

I keep telling her he's the equivalent of a leather coat and she's gotta suck it up and whack him when he's misbehaving. When she's in the arena riding, I'm her trainer, not her mother. I'm not going to pamper her and give in to her softness towards Charlie. If I say give him some leg, dang it! Give him some leg! Dig in your heel and make him turn! I also try to remind her that he's bigger than her and can hurt her if she doesn't get after him. I explain it in dog terms so she'll fully get it (I was a dog trainer for several years). You can't let them get away with anything just once or they'll learn an undesired behavior. Unlearning is harder to do than learning. I think she's starting to get it. Now if I can just get the water works to shut off...

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