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

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Denise From MN
Welcome Donna, I adopted my first horse from MHWF three years ago this week and each day just keeps getting better and better!

Sugar Bear is an absolute delight! I brushed her tonight and I'm pretty sure she almost fell asleep. She loves the attention. She spent time in the indoor arena today and I'm looking forward to working with her and getting to know her better. Each time I am with her, I love her more. I only have one picture so far (taken with a cell phone) and it's a bit grainy. Thanks so much! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her!

Congrats! Looks like a great match :)
mel d
Thanks for the update! Sounds as if you are very happy with your adoption choice...love to hear it :)

Donna, you and *Sugar Bear* were meant for eachother. She almost fell asleep while being groomed. Wow! She must be so content and at ease, and loves her new family... Congratulations!


 Donna, Congrats and Welcome to the forum and horse ownership. It's neat that your first horse is an adoption horse. How long have you been waiting to get your own horse?   


Sugar Bear met her pasture buddies today and all went very well. She is such a laid back girl and so happy. Thanks Scott and Karen for giving me this opportunity to offer Sugar Bear her second chance.

Jenni O.

Congratulations on adopting your very first horse, and welcome to everything it brings! 


Sugar Bear is starting to fill out more and we have been working on her ground training (and mine!). She definitely prefers to be in the pasture with her buddies and has a bit of a stubborn streak. She is learning to lunge and respond to what I ask of her. I'm learning how to show her with my body language what my expectations are. We haven't begun to ride yet, but I've also learned it's more important for her to respect me on the ground before I am in the saddle. She is a work in progress but the trainer we are working with saw progress after our morning session. Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings!

Donna and I have stayed in touch via email here and there and I just had to share this most recent update with you all.  I know you will enjoy it as much as I did!  Thank you Donna! 

From Donna on 4/15/2012: 
"I just wanted to share a fantastic experience I had with Sugar today. The weather held off so I decided to go out to the farm just to spend some time with her. I didn't want to tack her and get caught in the rain so I just put her in a halter and we went into the indoor arena for some ground work. I found out there was a big 4H group arriving within an hour so I took her to the outdoor area and worked a bit more with her. She no longer has any hesitation when walking down the driveway or around other areas of the farm. We've been doing a lot of riding in the outdoor arena and each time I asked her to cross the "bridge" (wooden pallet-like structure), she side stepped it. Today I approached slowly and kept telling her "easy". AND SHE DID IT!!  I was so thrilled. She is so responsive to positive reinforcement. We practiced crossing that bridge from all directions about 20 times. She seemed so darn proud of herself. After she experienced success she even seemed more responsive to other things I asked her to do. I walked her around stopping, starting, turning, etc. She also did some lunging and did everything I asked of her. She loves to be brushed and is really looking nice now that most of her winter coat is gone. When I took her back to the pasture she didn't walk away like she normally does. She stayed by me and I gave her some more neck rubs. I almost cried! OMG I LOVE her!! 
Tomorrow we are going on a trail ride with a few other boarders. She is scheduled with the ferrier at the end of the month and I will get some pics then. Last time she was trimmed was February." 

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John B.
Sounds like Sugar is doing great under your care and training Donna (along with the rest of your big herd)

Great pictures.

John B.

*Sugar Bear* is a beautiful girl, and loaded with CONTENTMENT/BLISS. She is a very happy horse, and it sounds like your adventures will come as soon as we hit some warmer weather, and some DRYING conditions. The WIND is doing its job in that scenario. Thanks for the UPDATE and the photos were supberb. She even STAYED by you when all was done. WOW Sounds like she didn't want you to leave either.

Kim M.

Donna, I am so happy for you. There is nothing in the world like connecting with your horse. It is a heaven all of its own. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being the kind of horseperson that listens to and supports the horse in the way  he or she needs to be. Congratulations!!!!

Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I'm really new to this but have learned a lot since bringing her home in October. Sugar Bear has been a wonderful companion and each time I'm with her I learn something new. She isn't too fond of having her hooves picked and I felt her teeth on my back tonight when I was working on the front. I'm sure she could have bitten if she wanted to but I still let her know the behavior was not acceptable. When I try to pick the back left hoof, she really pitches a fit. She has always done that and when she sees the ferrier she acts up even more with that hoof. Tonight she did something rather odd or at least unusual for her. When I asked her to lift her back left hoof she offered me the right and when I asked her to lift her back right leg she instead offered me the left ~ the one she hates having touched. Is she conning me? She is very smart so I wouldn't put it past her, but I don't know if horses scheme or think that way.

Another question: She was getting grain through the winter. Does she still need it everyday?
Scott: MHWF
Hi Donna,

As to whether she needs to continue to get grain or not, only you can answer that question. You have to look at how much she eats and what her weight is like, then adjust accordingly. My guess is that she should not need daily grain, but we also do not see her every day to say whether or not that is true. Use your better judgement and if you notice her weight going up or down, make the adjustments you feel are needed.
A good update Donna! These horses of ours...they are very good con artists! Haze was a bit snappy with his back legs for a while. I think it was because they were tender from the hard ground he traversed at my first boarding stable. I would just keep hold of the leg (not holding it up high, just out and back slightly) and waited until he stopped trying to jerk it away. As soon as he relaxed (I would say, "Relax." each time I did this), I dropped the foot and rubbed him. Took him a few days and he never was snappy again. If he for some reason is a bit snappy on a random day, I just say relax and he does. Try something along those lines with her. Don't do anything with the foot except hold it until she relaxes. Once she does that enough times, then start picking the foot out. She sounds incredibly brilliant, so she should catch on quick!

As for the grain thing, Scott is completely right. Haze had never had grain before I adopted him. Now he gets it every day, twice a day. He burns calories like there's no tomorrow (he's always playing). He gets the most feed at the barn and he's the best in shape (according to the vet!). The difference as to why he needs grain here? He doesn't have access to a round bale like he did before. If Sugar is doing well with hay, the more power to her (and the less cost to you)!!!

Can't wait to see more updates!
Donna, you and SugarBear are doing so great together!  It is very fun to watch. 

The one thing that is the toughest about being newer to horses is the 25 rule.  This is something that people who have been around for a while can attest to.  The 25 rule is simply the fact that any time you ask a horse-related question to a group of 25 horse people, you are going to get 25 different answers.  It is a wonderful thing that you are working with one mentor and that will help alleviate some of the issues that can come up with this 25 rule and all of the confusion it can create, and in time it will become easier for you to sift through information and find your own style, what fits you and your horse best, etc. 

As far as feed and grain, I will also mention that also depends on the quality of hay and the pasture that SugarBear will be on.  Generally, horses who have good pasture and are grazing continually and/or good quality hay do not need grain/feed throughout the summer, especially young healthy horses who are not having any stress issues, working like crazy or anything like that.  Go with what Scott mentioned, gauge that for yourself and maybe get your barn owner's input on that as well.  I have a feeling SugarBear may be the type to get a little too pleasingly plump this summer, so that would just be something to watch.  :) 

Thanks again Donna, hopefully we see you and SugarBear on a ride this year! 
mel d
Thanks for the nice update. Love reading about everyone and their ponies (or donks). Kudos for Sugar Bear for giving you just a little bump with her mouth, heaven knows she could have done much more. IMHO you did the right thing letting her know immediately you don't put up with that. You guys will work through this. She sounds as if she's a very smart girl ;-)

And Karen, LOL on the rule of 25!

Donna, sounds to me like you are doing great.  It is always good to ask questions, there is so much to learn.  Karen is so right about the 25 Rule...LOL...hadnt heard it put that way, but so very true!  Glad to hear you have a mentor to work with...keep enjoying that nice mare of yours!

The AMAZING Sugar Bear

Wow, I don't know where to begin except to say Sugar Bear showed me a side of her I didn't know existed. A few days ago when I was working with her we went on an unplanned trail ride with about 10 other horses. Some of the horses Sugar was familiar with but some she had never met. Our rides are generally on wide trails that are really more like gravel roads. On Monday, however, the ride took us through a narrow wooded path with hills, rocky patches, tight turns, and a river. We didn't actually cross the river but Sugar showed now hesitation or fear like she sometimes does when she hears water in a ditch. She rode like a champ and I was so proud of her. Her head was really in the game the entire time. She responded well to cues and is a completely different horse on the trail and in a larger group. She was relaxed and enjoying herself. Even her trot was more comfortable than it has been in the arena. Never once did she toss her head or refuse to do what I asked. On September 8 we are participating in a trail ride with about 30 other riders to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. I wasn't quite sure how that would go but I told myself we need to branch out and get off the farm together. Now I'm very optimistic and looking forward to it.

I'm loving the challenge of working with her, getting to know her better and seeing our bond strengthen. In 4 years when I retire I would like to bring her home and get a second horse for my husband and grandchildren. Until then I have to work on a few details: build a barn, install fencing, get a trailer, etc. So far I have the 40 acres where my home is located and a plan. ;p
That's great Donna!  Sounds like you are finding Sugar Bear's real calling there; trail riding.  Some horses just don't care for arena work, some horses don't care for trail riding and it sounds like Sugar Bear does best out on the trail, huh?  It's fun to watch you and Sugar Bear discover each other.  I wish you the best on your dream of getting your horse home too! 
Ditto everything Karen says....sounds like you have found Sugar Bear's calling!  Wish i had 40 acres and a plan...grin...but i have the dream anyways!!
Great to hear she did so well on the trails. Lucky you to have 40 acres. Hopefully your plan will pan out soon
Donna M

It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since Sugar Bear came into my life. It's been an amazing learning experience with so much more to look forward to. When she first came home she would avoid me when I went to the pasture to get her. Now she comes to me when I call her. We've worked through so many difficulties and she now is 100% cooperative for cleaning all 4 feet. That was huge progress! She also stands very still to be tacked whereas before she would dance around. As soon as she saw the saddle coming she would try to break out of the cross ties and retreat. She is also now very accepting of the bit and even puts her head down for me. Her head tossing behavior while riding is much improved. We are still working on her trust while cinching but she is getting better. She turns her head toward me and gives me a look like she is expecting discomfort. When I tell her to relax and put one hand near her face and the other on her side, she looks forward. I slowly tighten a couple times with less resistance each time and give her praise when she doesn't whip her head back toward me.

She seemed clueless about lunging when she arrived but now transitions up/down beautifully with just  clicks, kisses, and body cues which is so much fun to watch. When she is having an exceptionally good workout, she is absolutely amazing. Most of our riding challenges have been in the arena. She is a completely different horse on the trail. When we are in the arena she wants to trot every time we go into a turn or when we near the barrels. People have asked me if she has ever been gamed. I'm tempted to ask an experienced gamer to see what Sugar can do. I've also been told she is built perfectly for reining.

I do know she thoroughly enjoys trails and that has been a lot of fun.  Yesterday she kept wanting to leave the beaten path and take the road less traveled every time she saw an entry into the woods. After our trail rides, Sugar Bear is the only horse to stick by "her person" when she returns to the pasture. Her routine is to get a few treats, empty her bladder, get a big drink of water, and return to me for a couple more cookies before joining her herd. If any of the other horses approach or interrupt our routine, she pins her ears and chases them away.  I feel so fortunate to have earned her trust and absolutely love her sweetness and beauty. She gives me such tranquility at the end of a challenging day and her companionship has helped me endure the past year with my husband in Afghanistan. She has such a beautiful soul.

Jenni O.
What a great update, Donna.  Sounds like you two have come a long way together, and have a great bond.  Have fun on your longer trail ride this weekend!
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