Aspen Adventures

Throwback Tuesday: hauling home.

I’m going to take a moment to go back in time to when my dad and I brought Aspen home.  I’ve a friend who hauled a young horse a long distance so I asked her for some tips.  She said offer water when we stop, but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t drink.  Have hay available but again, don’t be surprised if she doesn’t eat.  She warned that a long haul can cause legs to stock up, but it would go away once she was home and could walk around.  Add in the fact that Aspen hadn’t ever been hauled and we were looking at fifteen to sixteen hours, I was starting to wonder what I’d gotten myself into.  And she wasn’t halter broke, she’d just had one on a few times.  Oi!

Mingus Lake
We interrupt this wall of text to bring you a photo of the lake on the ranch where Aspen came from.

I needn’t have worried.  Aspen hauled like an absolute champ.  Every time I offered her water she drained the bucket.  I was concerned she wasn’t eating but rather pushing the hay around.  Upon closer inspection she was pushing the hay around, but it was to get the rich alfalfa leaves.  I rolled my eyes and realized I likely had another snobby hay eater on my hands.  We only had to stop at a gas station once because I had had a genius idea.  My brother has a 100 gallon drag up tank he used to fuel his trucks up.  If we put that in the truck bed we wouldn’t have to find gas stations.  We merely pulled onto a ramp or rest area, my dad pumped fuel and I checked the horse.  It was wonderful and so convenient.

At the one gas station we stopped at we both used the restroom and my dad got a sandwich.  We also had a cooler full of drinks, snacks and a bag of baby carrots.  While I waited on the fuel to pump and my dad to return I fed Aspen the carrots.  She stuck her nose out the little door every time we opened it to check on her.  Not in an anxious way, she simply wanted to see what was going on.  I thought I had taken a photo of this but apparently it was just to my snapchat story and I didn’t save it.  I’m a terrible horse mom.

What really eased my worries about Aspen was when we stopped on a large shoulder to check on her and fuel up.  Traffic was flying by at more than seventy miles an hour and she didn’t give a hoot.  She just wanted some water and some petting.

We hit the farm just before one in the morning; we’d gotten a later start than we intended because the sun rose later than what we were used to.  My dad and I had never put much thought into how much further West myAspen and I on her first day home. oldest brother is; it isn’t something that matters after driving for fifteen hours.  Still, we made great time considering how many times we stopped.  My dad drove a longer leg coming home because I was fighting to keep my eyes open.  He’s pretty great like that.  Plus, he managed to back the trailer right up to the round pen gate in the dark, which is tricky enough in daylight due to the surrounding pasture fence.  We had anticipated that Aspen might barrel out of the trailer once the door was open but nope.  It took a few minutes of us coaxing before she came out.  We pulled her halter off and watched her inspect her new digs for a few minutes.  She quickly found the water trough and the flakes of hay and settled in.

We moved the trailer and shut the gate before stopping in the shop to have a well deserved beer.  I gave him a big hug and a million thank yous before I left to drive up the hill to my bed and kitties.  2,133 miles and 19 hours of driving gave me my third herd member.

Six week update.

Aspen has been on the farm for about six weeks now.  She has settled in amazingly; the first day she didn’t even seem to miss her old her.  There wasn’t much vocalization between her and the other two, either.  Had we not told the few people that saw her the first couple of days they wouldn’t have known she’d just been pulled from the only home she’s known and hauled a thousand miles.

At first she wasn’t keen on being haltered, but would follow us around like a puppy on a string.  She didn’t care that the halter was on, it was getting it on she disliked.  I could slip the halter over her nose, but getting that crown strap buckled?  Nah, she wasn’t interested.  She would simply back up, I would follow her and quietly continue haltering her.  As soon as it was buckled she stopped.  Eventually this turned into me throwing the leadrope over her neck, once she didn’t mind a flying rope, and using that as a brake.

Now she’s to the point where haltering is no big deal, and thankfully it was a quick process to get here.  I spent a lot of time simply leading her around, stopping and backing.  She backs up nicely but ‘whoa’ still needs some work.  She humors me when I set up obstacle courses in the round pen with barrels for her to go around and between and large planks of wood for her to step over.  Small things done consistently have helped her to develop ground manners and patience.  When she was first turned into the south pasture she had to stand quietly for five seconds.  If she fidgeted too much while I removed her halter, I stopped and waited for her to quiet down.  One thing I’ve really learned with her is to be confident.  At first she wasn’t sure about going through the gate back into the round pen, it was scary.  If I walked purposefully up to the gate she never gave it a second look.  Good filly.

Aspen after being hosed down.
Shiny from just being hosed down, looking thrilled with life as usual.

Now, one of the best things about getting a new horse, and one of her size, is tack shopping.  I went online and purchased a rope halter for her as the one she was sent home with is horse size and well, she isn’t.  Sorry Aspen, you’re a pony.  Her pink halter works fine for leading but the rope halter will make training much easier.  I found a seller on Etsy and while I’m disappointed it isn’t royal blue as I had expected from the rope sample photo, the construction and fit are nice.

She doesn’t buck and throw fits when she’s feeling frisky, but she’s been known to take off running for no apparent reason and do a few laps around the pasture.  I’m looking forward to getting her on a lunge line and just staring at her cute little trot while she circles me.

Yesterday I threw a saddle pad at her and that didn’t bother her in the least.  I’m eager to see if any of my saddles fit her.  If not she’s going back to Texas.  Kidding!  … Sorta.

The weather is starting to get gross featuring obnoxious temperatures and humidity levels.  I doubt Aspen minds as she’s from Texas, land of outrageously hot weather.  I certainly mind though and her training will either happen in the morning before it can get too hot out or in the early evening once the pesky sun has disappeared.  Nothing major to report except for a growing relationship between me and the little filly.  And her and Jephy.  Her and Horse?  Eh, not so much.  Mares.

Aspen and Jephy

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