He sure is pretty! He looks very relaxed under saddle.
3/18/2018: Onyx sporting his new breast collar. He is a handsome fellow. He fared well through the winter chills and is happy to be at his job again. I am getting very close to making my first ride with Onyx, as I am recovering from pneumonia right now. He is such a joy to have in my life. God has blessed me greatly. Attached Images
Such a handsome boy! He has come such a long way...please post pictures or video of that upcoming ride.
Onyx looks great! I can't wait for the next post, which might include a description of your first ride!
How's Onyx doing?
6/12/2018: Today I am writing an update on my progress with Onyx. He is well past his abuse issues and enjoying his new job and also gaining in his confidence. He is learning very quickly now since I have learned how to motivate him. Cookies! Onyx is a left brain introvert (LBI) in his horseanality and I was having some issues with getting his cooperation and understanding. LBI horses can have an opinion and not necessarily the one you want. I didn't want to create arguments or disobedience that would strain the relationship. What I found is that I was lacking information on how to reach his mind and not just his feet. So, I went back to my Parelli Natural Horsemanship training materials and located the Horseanality session Linda Parelli did with her horse Remmer, also LBI. Once I understood and learned how to read this behavior, Onyx and I are making huge leaps in his training. He has become so animated in his facial expressions and his movements that he's a joy to watch. To encourage his curiosity and confidence in objects, I would randomly hide a cookie on the ball or a barrel or a rail. As he started to investigate objects, he would find the cookie and then move on to see if he could find more.
I am working with Onyx around the horse trailer now, making the transition from the barn training. Everything I do at the trailer is the same as in the barn so he knows what to expect and what I expect of him. He is helping me to get up and down in the tack room and in the back of the trailer. We are working on his trailer loading with increasing his confidence so that I can just sit in a chair and load him. The other day I was sitting in the pasture with him. The pasture was prickly from just being baled, so I was picking him grass and feeding it to him sideways. He appreciated the gesture. When it was time for me to get off the ground, I wasn't able. I asked Onyx to come closer and I grabbed onto his front leg with my right hand and grabbed his mane with my left hand to pull myself up. He was rock solid as I struggled to stand. He is an amazing horse. My trainer, Emily Kemp Kraemer, is coming on June 25th to again start his riding training. His last ride was in November of which he did very well. This time Emily will be playing with him and assessing where he is for me to get on and ride. And believe me, I want Onyx very motivated for this training. Attached Images
Lori he looks gorgeous! I have that same color blue for Laney. I think it rocks on a black horse. This is a fantastic update and I'm SO HAPPY for you and Onyx! Keep up the great work!
He is such a sharp looking boy!
I love going back to look at Onyx's first photos from 5/17/2016 when he arrived at the MHWF and then comparing those to the ones I took recently. His whole presence has changed and he almost has an aura radiating from him now.
Fun facts: May 17th is my birthday and my favorite gem is onyx. My class ring from 1977 is faceted onyx. God has really blessed me with Onyx and he is making me strive to be a better horseman. His being an LBI is what got him into trouble with the "trainers" prior to his surrender. Most conventional trainers don't understand what this type of horse is and that their outdated methods don't work on them. Once you get familiar with LBI behavior and how to channel it into a positive relationship, these horses will jump over the moon for you. The challenge after that is to be a creative and exciting thinker because these horses are very smart. Onyx is extremely smart and looks forward to learning something new every time we're together. I am glad you are enjoying these posts and our progress. I will let him know that he still has a fan club.
This is so interesting! I had not heard of horseanalities before your post! We have a horse here that I'm wondering if he is LBI. You can't make him do anything - he has to offer it. I think he's probably had some bad experiences because of this in the past. There's just so much potential there, but tapping into it is challenging. Going to do more research, and look up your trainer, too!
6/25/2018: Emily came to work with Onyx for his continuing riding training. Emily talked to me about my concerns and the main factor was that Onyx needed to learn to stand absolutely still at the mounting block. Emily worked with Onyx using all sorts of stimuli to gain his trust and understanding that no matter what happens top side, he must remain solidly planted and remain calm. Onyx did very well and I was very impressed at his progress.
I am planning to have Emily come once a month now to follow up with us. In the meantime, I will be using all that Emily taught me and Onyx to get him better every day with his new partnership responsibilities. In the attached photo, Emily is rubbing her leg over his rump to help Onyx learn that these things happen and they are nothing for him to worry about.
Although there was no riding done during this session, we made huge strides with Onyx and his understanding of what is being asked of him. All these things help to make Onyx a more responsible horse and a better partner for me. To Heike B.: Parelli Natural Horsemanship does a whole training series on horsenalities and how to read your horse and figure out what motivates each type. This training has been a tremendous help for me with Onyx. Emily can be found on Facebook or on her web site: http://www.kemphorsemanship.com. Attached Images
You can see such a calm patience in Emily that is reflected in all of Onxy in this pic. Great progress.
Sorry to hear about your hip replacement. I had left knee replaced in Febuary and get my right done in September. No fall trail riding for me also☹️ Can tell you that I am SO GLAD that I did my first knee and excited to get my second done. You will be happier when you aren't in constant pain.
Sounds like you have a great trainer that's working for what's best for you and Onyx. One thing I learned from my nuclear background is slow is fast. Onyx is going to be an even more amazing boy because you are getting past his trust issues. Always love hearing his and your progress. Great job! Maybe we can both make the MHWF Fall Trail Ride next year.
9/6/2018: Surgery is behind me now and I am making steady progress to becoming fully mobile again. Physical therapy is going well and today I start back with Onyx to make progress with him. I was able to get out to see him 10 days ago with my walker and he was so excited to see me. He adjusted well to my new toy and was just content to have me stand beside him and pet him.
Gail sent me the attached photo of Onyx while I was in a rehab facility. Looks like someone was missing his mom. Attached Images
What a sweet face. Good luck on your rehab. Just had a total right knee myself this Thursday. Can’t wait to be back in the groove of things without pain.
Good luck with your rehab! I am sure everything will go great, especially since you can be with Onyx again.
9/26/2018: Saturday, 9/22, I was feeling extremely well so Onyx and I had a play date. When we got to the indoor arena, we found all sorts of obstacles and patterns already set up for us. Onyx had a small knot in his brain from being idle for 3 months, but I quickly got him thinking and he became very responsive to the slightest cues. We have a long sheet of silver plastic that we use as a tarp, and it was covered with Styrofoam noodles, hula hoops, and cones, making it a nice place to start. Onyx did a nice side pass to the left to get all four feet on the tarp and then walked forward and side passed off the tarp. From then on he was intrigued as to what was next. To get his interest in a few obstacles, I hid cookies on them as we passed by. The second pass and he zeroed in on the treasure and was eager to find more. I was very happy to see him pick up his training as if I have never been gone.
The hip joint is working well, and the pain is more located in the muscles and incision. My surgeon told me that this is going to be a "hot spot" for quite some time. He has no idea how hard this is for me to sit out another riding season. Onyx and I will have a lot of catching up to do next year. For now, we will continue with advancing our ground work. As Pat Parelli says, "Good, better, best; never let it rest."
So glad you are getting to play with Onyx and that he is responding so well even with time off. Patience patience patience....sigh...it will pay off in the end with your healing. Hang in there!
A knot in the brain - what a description! Glad things are moving in the right direction and you are getting to spend time at the barn now. Congrats!
10/13/2018: Onyx and I had a play date today. We worked more on refining his responses to my cues and he was awesome. I pulled out my bench and had him circle it in both directions and then sidepass to it from both directions and stand quietly next to the bench. All in preparation for mounting and dismounting in our riding training.
I also worked with him at liberty to give him more responsibility in our partnership. I placed one carrot stick on his withers and one on his rump and his job was to walk a circle around me and not make me lose contact with the sticks. For this being our first time at this task, he did remarkably well. Then I introduced Onyx to my large yellow nylon saddle bags, placing them over his back and having him walk around and then trot. I cued him to come to me and then I placed heavy brushes in the bags and placed the bags high up on his neck. As he trotted, the saddle bags gradually slid down from his neck and made their way to his flanks. Onyx kept his trot steady and never flinched. We finished with a snack of apple slices and he was very happy. Attached is the latest photo I have of Onyx taken October 7th. He is definitely looking good for heading into the cold months. His hair is getting thicker and feels like velvet and he is definitely back to black. Love this photo. Attached Images
Love this update! Love this pic as well. Love how he is looking into the camera, so cool.
12/4/2018: Play date with Onyx went so well that I forgot about watching the clock. Today I saddled Onyx at liberty (no halter or lead rope on him). I remember our first play date (August 2016) when I showed him the saddle and he would look the other way. If he didn't acknowledge it, it didn't exist. I think he's getting the mind set that maybe it's time I got on, but that will have to wait.
In the meantime, I played with Onyx over barrels and this time he crawled over t
hem instead of flying 6 feet in the air to avoid them. So nice to see him thinking his way through obstacles.
One new obstacle is the pallet that represents a pedestal or bridge. Onyx actually puts his feet on it now and stands very tall and proud of his achievement. This obstacle is prepping him for trailer loading and crossing bridges on trail rides.
A second new obstacle is the large wooden cut-out of a cow painted like a Holstein. The first time he saw it, he did a spin and bolted in the opposite direction. There is absolutely no way that I could possibly ride that explosion. The second time I kept Onyx on the lead rope and helped him build his confidence by playing with other familiar obstacles close by. After a short time, the cow became a non-event for him and he actually put his nose on it. When I took the halter off for liberty, he walked up to it, around it, and was totally confident. Every time we come into the arena, the cow is in a different location and makes Onyx a little worried. After some play and getting up his confidence, he's relaxed around the cow again.
Onyx is starting to ask me questions when he is presented with a new challenge. He is looking to me for leadership instead of reacting and making things harder for himself.
Latest pic of Onyx in November.
4/7/2019: Spent Saturday and today with Onyx, preparing him again with saddling and stepping up our games. He has gotten so good at side passing over barrels that when he sees one, he is automatically going over them without being asked. I am getting ready to change his name to "Boomerang" because I send him off on a circle and he does two laps and comes back to me. I love that he wants to be with me. He is coming out of his shell to be more dominant now and willing to play a bit. That means that I have to balance his dominance with mine and tip the scales in my favor. He surprised me by challenging me with a "stallion stomp" in my direction, so I replied with a boss mare's squeal and kick to the chest. He got the message and came to me with his head down, which is his way of saying "Sorry, I didn't mean that." His saddling is going so well that he is now my partner in the task and stands at liberty (no halter or ropes) to be saddled and unsaddled. He also understands my cues to come over to the saddle rack so I don't have to carry the saddle to him. All this training will transition to the horse trailer, making it easier for us to get on the trails and enjoy the time together. Attached Images
Just love this update. It's so much easier to have a partner who truly trusts and enjoys his time with his partner. It brings tears to my eyes to hear these stories of how one takes the time to figure out their equine partner and the progress they make together.