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

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Congrats Donna. You've done so well with Sugar Bear.
Happy Gotcha Day to Donna and Sugar Bear!
Jenni O.
Congratulations, Donna! You have done an awesome job. That trail clinic in May sounds like it will be a blast. I'm looking forward to hearing about it.
Wow! I can't believe it's been 5 years already! Congratulations!
Heike B
Donna M
All I can say is WOW! What a phenomenal experience at the trail clinic Sugar Bear and I attended last weekend. In the weeks leading up to the clinic, I had no idea what they could teach that would possibly take 3 entire days, but I learned so much!

We started on Friday with ground work where I learned to disengage her hips. Prior to the clinic all I knew was I had to "circle" her which I thought was the same thing. I now know how it looks and feels to do it the correct and more effective way. Sugar and I were "the last team standing" after the rain moved in. We worked 1:1 with Danielle Crooks on softening her to the bit. She arrived the next day without a voice (sorry Danielle). In the years I've had Sugar, I didn't know I was never giving her total release from pressure. I had been holding the reins in my hand at what I thought was a resting position but as it turns out Sugar was always feeling pressure in her mouth even it if was only 10 pounds of pressure. She just learned to live with it. By the end of the weekend she started to make the connection that when I picked up the reins she needed to back up if she didn't feel leg pressure to move forward. 

I learned that she only resists because she doesn't know what I am asking or because she is convinced she is going to die. I now know how to keep her head pointed forward and to counter her resistance movements with reins and leg pressure. I know when to choke up on the reins to keep us both safe and can anticipate a fear response of rearing or bucking. By the end of the weekend we were riding off alone away from her buddies who accompanied us. She was quite smitten with the boys since she was in heat and spent a good amount of time flirting and squirting. 

Sugar learned a cue to step toward the mounting block, she stands still for mounting, and does not move away from the block until I cue her. It took about 15 minutes to teach her this but this cue alone was probably worth the cost of the clinic. I tried the technique near mounting blocks, fence rails, and rocks as there are times out on the trail when I have to dismount and I always struggle to get back on. If I didn't have a short whip or riding crop, I used a short stick I found on the ground. It's amazing! 

She rocked, I mean ROCKED!, at the obstacles. She walked through a swimming pool filled with sand, cardboard boxes, and milk jugs, went between poles with flags, caution tape, and all kinds of shiny loose things blowing in the wind, crossed all the ground obstacles (branches, pipes, etc.), backed up and pivoted, and was the first horse to go through the obstacle with the pool noodles and styrofoam boards covered in duct tape designs. Even though the wind was blowing the noodles/foam in all different directions including her face, she was confident going through after she learned it wouldn't kill her. It was interesting to watch her figure out that if she walked between the noodles and avoided the styrofoam, she wouldn't get hit in the face with a big object. She even led other horse through the obstacle when they needed a confident horse to follow. She did every water crossing without hesitation, mastered the teeter bridge on her first attempt and was calm when we were throwing vet wrap packages over and around her. She even rode out alone under a flying drone someone was playing with in the field. Side passing and collection is still a work in progress but it is something I have to learn to consistently cue. I suspect she already knows it. Our trailer loading issues are all but resolved. She hesitates but gets in and settles more quickly. 

One of the best parts of the weekend was seeing her reunite with Raven, Rain and Ariel this morning. Raven and Sugar squealed when they saw each other and looked like they were hugging! They all ran around in the pasture with Rain and Ariel bucking and snorting. After about 10 minutes they settled in and have been a happy little family unit. 

The clinic was held at Big Valley Ranch in Avoca and offered by Kim and Danielle Crooks, both Josh Lyons Certified Trainers, of Crystal Creek Ranch. Danielle is also a Ken McNabb Master Certified Trainer The Big Valley Ranch paddocks and 50 miles of trails are beautiful. Again ... all I can say is WOW! If you get the chance .... GO!

Donna M
Forgot to add pics from the clinic. 

Sugar's buddy Dallas is the one going through the attacking noodles and foam after she showed him what a big chicken he was being. [wink]

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Wow..Good for you Donna!
Donna M
Sugar and I are celebrating our anniversary month at Spur of the Moment. We are here till Wednesday enjoying beautiful weather, colors, and trails. She is the sweetest!
Donna M
Sugar is my ray of sunshine. She is such s great trail horse.
Donna M
We had a fabulous weekend at the Spur. Sugar was again a rock star. Love this horse. 

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Donna M
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Thank you Donna! [smile]
Happy ladies!  Great pictures! 
Heike B
Great pictures!  Tracy and are are going up to Spur of the Moment Ranch with a couple of other friends this weekend - never been there and now that I've seen your pictures I'm even more excited!!!
Donna R
Great photos Donna.  It looks like you had a blast there.  I'd like to try that place some time. I love that you and Sugar are so bonded.
Donna M
Today was the first ride of the season for Sugar and me. Overall she did very well and I'm so proud of her. When she saw me approaching in the pasture with a halter and lead rope in my hands, she decided she wanted to stay home. I will be the first to admit I am no match for QH in derby mode so I resorted to bribery. Once she heard the grain, she decided the barn was a better option. We are still working on loading but she is 90% better than last year. 

She behaved like a mid season trail horse. We rode to a park and along the way encountered things that would have normally spooked her but she took it all in stride. When we arrived at the park, there were two kids who wanted to pet her. I got off and she let me lift the kids into the saddle. She walked up to the playground equipment and side stepped toward a platform so the kids could get closer to the saddle and I didn't have to lift them so high. Afterward we rode to the river and she walked right in for me. 

I was able to capture this picture of her while she was getting acquainted with her riding buddies and stretching her legs in the arena before we rode out. Have I mentioned before how much I love this horse?  

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Scott: MHWF
[smile] Maybe it's Super Sugar Bear
What a good girl!
Jenni O.
Great update, Donna. She IS Super Sugar Bear.
Donna M. on Sugar Bear [smile]

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Donna R
What a great journey you are having together Donna!  You look so relaxed and happy.
Donna M
I am honestly, ridiculously, head over heels in love with this girl. The 27th is our 6th adoptaversary, I will be in Madison babysitting my granddaughters and likely won’t have time to post.

To say adopting Sugar Bear changed my life would be a gross understatement. I’ve gone from being her human pez dispenser of treats to her trusted friend, companion and leader. What she has taught and given me is sometimes beyond belief. She can still be headstrong and challenging from time to time but we have very few rides where she tries my patience.

It’s funny how frustrated I used to feel when trying to get her do a simple thing like walk through a puddle. Now she will walk right into any lake I ask her to. When I’m trying to help novice riders I see myself and some of the challenges I faced during the first couple years. We all need to start somewhere and thanks to Karen, Scott, and fellow adopters, that start led to realized dreams.

Six years? So hard to believe!
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