Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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Amy T
Hey Donna, I'm glad to hear you are enjoying Raven! Just a comment that while here, she had seasonal allergies, nothing major, just occasional watery eyes and a few coughs. I had luck with Spirulina. Happy trails!
Donna M
Thanks Amy. Were those seasonal allergies in the spring? She's been a little "off" for about a month but is getting much better. I noticed in the fall she was also coughing a little but I think it was because of a dusty trail ride. 
Donna M
July 13 marked one year since Raven has been with me. We've grown a lot in that time but the thing I love most about her is her softness. When Raven first came home, it took a while for her to let me approach and catch her. Now she follows me around in the pasture and comes to the fence whenever anyone stops by to visit the horses. She knows the sound of my vehicle when I'm returning from work and will run to the gate when she knows I'm pulling in the driveway. She nickers for me in the morning ~ especially on weekends. She seems to understand that cup of coffee in my hand means I don't have to leave anytime soon. She's learned that fly spray will bring relief and isn't something to run from. She ground ties for tacking and grooming. About the only thing we are still working through is that "deer in the headlights/horse statue stance" when she obsesses on something. She doesn't even seem afraid when she does it ... more like a bit of a stubborn refusal. Still, she is as sweet as they come. 
Congrats Donna. You have done such a great job with your horses. maybe you should get a couple more.
Diane B
Congratulations Donna!  Sounds like you and Raven have formed a wonderful relationship!  It is such a good feeling to have a horse respond by wanting to be by you.
John B.
Donna, I admire your spirit and accomplishments not because you knew how to do it but rather that you figured out how to do it and made such great bonds with your great friends. 

Wishing you and yours many great years together
Congratulations Donna and Raven!  I love reading your updates on both of your girls [smile]
Donna M
Raven has become so incredibly sweet. She gets very dark in the winter and her stark color contrast to the white snow is beautiful. I've made a decision to keep her primarily as a pasture companion and use Sugar Bear and Raindancer as my two trail horses. Her role now is to give me soft nose nuzzles and be one of the focal points of my camera lens. She also likes to be groomed and always tries to figure out why I'm walking deep into her pasture. Sometimes she follows me like a puppy and other times she watches me and seems to be wondering what the heck I'm doing. A couple days ago when I was breaking a trail through the snow so I could dump manure in a different location, she stood there watching me for the longest time. Sure wish I could understand what she was thinking. Down the road I would like to build an outdoor arena and work with her a bit more. I haven't yet decided what we will do but she is very smart and receptive to praise.

She sure is a different horse now that she feels secure here. When I first brought her home I was so worried about her being ostracized by the other horses at the barn where she was boarding. Here at home she can be a bit bossy, especially since Rain and Ariel arrived. Maybe Raven is enjoying an elevated status with Raindancer at the bottom of the pecking order. Now that I am retiring, I will have much more time to try to figure out all her lovable quirks. 
Donna M
Raven is a hoot sometimes. She is second in command to Sugar Bear and enjoys pushing around Raindancer. However, she squeals like a baby when I load Raindancer in the trailer to go somewhere. Raven is the first to run to the fence line when we return and is excited to see Rain. For the next 12 hours or so, they are best buddies but then the "get out of my space" behavior resumes. Her all time favorite snack is apples. She loves them so much she makes sauce out of them and juice runs from her mouth. She seems to like the new barn and seldom uses the loafing shed anymore. She is dark and fluffy now as we approach winter. 
Donna M.
Lakota (Raven) [smile]

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Donna R
Nice photo!
Donna M
A client stopped by to drop off his dog for grooming and his uncle tagged along for something to do. He just so happens to enjoy photographing horses and caught this shot of Raven. She looks nothing like her winter self. She seems to be asking if he captured her good side. [smile]

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Jenni O.
Love that look! She looks great.
Donna M
Today was a bittersweet day. After 2 years of pasture loafing, Raven loaded like a champ and traveled well to Avoca, WI where she will be spending 30 days in refresher training with Kim Crooks. Kim and her daughter Danielle are John Lyons certified trainers and were the clinicians Sugar and I learned so much from last year. Danielle left today to join Ken McNaab for a few weeks as she does each year.

Raven seem d to immediately feel comfortable in her new surroundings but that might have been because she was hungry for the fresh grass after her 6 hour trip. It was super difficult to leave her but I know she will be ok.

Raven and I will be attending Kim and Danielle's clinic in June so I can apply the same techniques used in her refresher training. I hope to put more miles on her this season. She is too nice of a horse to be a pasture pet.

Here is a pic I snapped of her this morning before we left home. It's the one I will be using for the health report as soon as I download the form. The vet visit is done but I haven't had a chance to put it all together and drop it in the mail.

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Jenni O.
That's pretty exciting! You'll miss her, but I'm sure you can find ways to keep busy. 😀 And going to a clinic, fun! Can't wait to hear about her progress.
Donna M
It's raining, it's pouring, the old man (hubby) is snoring ... since I can't be outside and I don't have to be anywhere, this is a perfect time for an update. 

I picked up Raven from training yesterday and was immediately impressed when I saw her. One, she was obviously well cared for (which was no surprise), and two, she was incredibly relaxed. I could tell a difference in her as soon as I approached to put on her halter. She walked calmly next to me as we went to the barn. She stood completely still for saddling and mounting. Never once did she attempt to step away until I cued her. I always thought her ground manners were great but when I saw the difference in her, I realized she had been a bit edgy and pushy prior to the refresher training. 

Kim spent THREE hours with me before Raven and I headed home. During that time she went through all the training exercises on the ground and under saddle. She also gave me an opportunity to cue Raven after her demonstrations. If I was miscommunicating to Raven, Kim gave great feedback. We rode in the arena and I could not believe how responsive Raven was to the lightest cues. After some arena work we rode out ALONE and into a field where she was super responsive. She passed many obstacles and some she had never experienced. The only time she seemed unsure was when she walked between a trailer and some trees but she did what was asked of her.

We won't be able to attend the clinic as originally planned but a few days each week we will be going over to a friend's arena 10 minutes away to follow up on all the new things we have learned. We will also have many opportunities for trail rides. I am amazed at the difference in Raven and look forward to many miles together. She is doing everything I thought she could. Kim's parting advice to me was to ride Raven like I ride Sugar Bear with consistent expectations. 

We hope to see you at Ukarydee this fall!
Glad you are seeing some positive changes in Raven after her training!  That is so exciting, and I am so glad for you that you have a close by arena to practice in!!  Have fun riding her.
Jenni O.
Great to hear, Donna. It's money well spent when you find a good trainer, isn't it? It sounds like Raven was a busy girl and learned a lot! I bet you will see yourself make some big strides with her too now. (Not that you hadn't prior to this-I think you've done a great job all along.)
Donna M
Yesterday Raven and I went on our first trail ride since her return from training. I tried very hard to remember all the things Kim told me and was very impressed with how Raven performed. We accomplished more yesterday than in the 4 years she has been with me. Raven tends to be more comfortable riding with a larger group of horses than with just one or two. Yesterday we rode with one other horse and she did very well. It took her about 10 minutes to relax but she did everything I asked, even though she was in entirely new surroundings and it was our first trail ride in about 2 years. 

MAJOR accomplishments: 
1. I asked her to walk into a river and she did!
2. I asked her to lead and follow the other horse and she did!
3. I asked her to walk through the gate of a chain link fence and she did!
4. I asked her to walk past playground equipment and she did! 
5. Absolutely no spooking in traffic, with loose and/or barking dogs, sudden movements or unfamiliar noises, etc. 

We passed a farm with 2 other horses who ran to the fence line near the road. Raven got very agitated and called out to them. At one point I thought she was going to back me into a ditch. I just kept her nose pointed in the direction I wanted to go and countered all her unwanted movements. SUCCESS: we made it back to the barn without bodily injury (if you don't count my ruptured eardrums from all her calling out). Now we have a goal to work on. We are going to ride past that farm and other places where horses live and she will learn to maintain her composure. Her next lesson is on Thursday. lol

Goal #2: I am going to try to teach Raven to step to the mounting block. Sugar learned that last year and it has made dismounting and remounting during trail rides so much easier. I can use anything as a mounting block and Sugar will step toward me. 

I went back and looked at Raven's thread from the beginning. Thank you for putting up with all my ignorance and understanding the steepness of my learning curve. Some of the things I posted back then were embarrassingly comical.
Kristen M.
Way to go!
Scott Bayerl
We have all been through this journey we call horsemanship. Actually, it never ends, we are always learning and looking back on what we did not know then and know now. 10 years from now many of us will look back to now and still see the comedy in where we are today [smile]
That's great progress Donna! And you have nothing to be embarrassed about. It's all a learning process and the more I learn the more I realize how little I know. I'd much rather see people asking questions and be willing to learn than to act like they already know everything, be afraid to ask questions or afraid to take advice or constructive criticism
or have no goals to work on.

You should be very proud of yourself!
Kudos!!!!!!  I heartily applaud your journey!  Thank you for making an investment in your horsemanship and in Raven.  Sounds like some really fantastic accomplishment there.

I encourage you to keep writing down as much as you can about your experience working with her.  I have found that in the times I get discouraged with how things are going with my horsemanship, simply looking back at where I was a few months or years back is wonderful confirmation that progress is being made. 
Yes...write stuff down. I've often wished I would have done a journal on my horses.
I also want to add that there are also people that get in over their heads and need to seek help from someone more knowledgable and experienced but they either don't realize it or don't want to admit it.
I'm not saying you were in over your head but I do think you made a smart decision and found a good trainer to help you. You are also working through things. Some people just blame the horse and give up and get rid of the horse.
Sounds like you had a wonderful ride!  As Scott says, it is always a journey with our horses!  So glad you are having fun.
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