When Sierra first came to Hanaeleh, we were told that she was trained under saddle. One ride very quickly showed us that not only wasn’t Sierra trained at all, she had been abused, and was fearful and would rear, spin, buck or crow hop when we started to work with her. It wasn’t her fault- whoever had worked with her before had been very aggressive, and instead of teaching her what they wanted, they hurt her. Unfortunately we see this pattern over and over- abusive “trainers” who use fear and intimidation to try to get the horse to do what they want, and in the end the horse still doesn’t know what to do, and ends up being emotionally and sometimes physically scarred.
Thankfully we were able to spend a lot of time on the ground with Sierra, letting her know exactly what was expected of her, and letting her know that we weren’t going to hurt her, even when she didn’t do what we wanted. She stopped acting out, and although she was at first very fussy with the bit, she finally started to settle in during training, and working well. When it appeared she was even a little bored, we knew that it was time to take her training to the next level.
This week we took that next step to working her under saddle again. What a difference from the horse we got in a few months ago! There was no agitation, no frustration- she knew what to do, and was calm and comfortable during the entire ride. We kept it short- about 10-15 minutes, and she was great during the entire time.
Now that Sierra knows that she is safe and can trust us while under saddle, we can start riding her both in the arena and out on trail. When we feel that she is safe and has enough training under saddle, we can then look to find her the perfect home. Right now, however, we are just so thrilled that our girl is doing so well.