Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Horses Who Made Me: Griffin


Griffin fell into my lap in January of 2012, as a project horse to train and sell, train and keep, or give back to the friend who bestowed him on me.

I'd been sorely tempted to adopt the little guy month's prior, but fresh from selling Orion, I really wasn't certain about that decision at the time.

Griffin was found by my friend Jeanna. He'd been a first horse for a 13 year old girl who was "horse crazy". However, she was very misguided in her ideas about horse care.

She'd somehow acquired Griffin as a  yearling without her parents' knowledge. She was keeping him in a barn somewhere nearby, visiting him once or twice a day. The barn was dark, it was closed off from the outside world (no paddock or windows), and had little in the way of water or food. Essentially, to my understanding, she would take him on a walk to eat and drink when she visited, then put him back inside until her next visit. Yikes!!

The short of it: Jeanna found out what was going on and seized the colt from the girl. She then put up queries on Facebook, seeking a home for the colt who was reputed to be Arab X TWH.

Another mutual friend volunteered to take him. She had him vaccinated, gelded, and removed his wolf teeth. He moved 90 minutes north nearer to her apartment and she and her sister-in-law loved him something fierce, spoiling him to his heart's desire.

Unfortunately, some money issues arose for my friend and her sister-in-law and they could no longer afford to be the best parents possible for Griffin. With sad hearts, and per the contract that had been drafted when Griffin left Jeanna's care, Griffin returned to Jeanna.

Jeanna kept him for a few months. Doting on him, feeding him, etc. When January rolled around, she offered him to me as a project saying I could train him and keep him, train him and sell him, or give him back to her if I hated him. She just couldn't afford to feed him through the winter, and she said she'd rather see me work with him then send him to the horse trainer/trader. If I took him, at least she'd still get to watch him grow and develop, and, hopefully, watch his future unfold with me.

I took her up on it and the journey began, much of it has been chronicled here, so I won't expound too much right now.

Griffin is the first young horse I've trained from nothing to something. He's the first horse I've done all of the work with on my own. I've been provided guidance by others and they have demonstrated things with him for me to better understand, but by and large, all the training has been done by me. The extensive ground work and later the work under saddle.

The skinny little colt is growing into a wonderful little gelding. He's athletic. He's inquisitive. And he has an insatiable need to please people, especially me.

It hasn't all been easy, and I've learned more than I ever had along the way.

Things I've taught this horse, training methods I've employed, they've largely been completely new concepts to me.

I've mentioned before, and I'll mention it again, all of my past experiences with horses were based in riding to develop myself and my seat, not necessarily the horse. I haven't had lessons under trainers who have certifications and qualifications out the wazoo. I've been guided by women (and some men) who truly love horses. People who's knowledge base is largely from hands-on experience and experimentation versus hours of tutelage from a proven professional. People who have utilized the horse for the jobs it can perform and the functionality of its nature versus the beauty it can exhibit in an arena.

Concepts like ground work, driving, pressure and release, clickers, different manners of riding, different aids, gadgets, all of it - those things were introduced to me in small doses, but nothing in detail. The further detail behind each of those things - and even more - are things I have learned more about since owning my own horses - and especially since owning and training Griffin.

I wanted to do right by Griffin. I wanted him to have a better future; to put his rocky start far behind him. If I didn't keep him, I didn't want to have to worry about him being passed along down the road into yet another bad situation.

And so I read. And I researched. And I asked questions. And I sought out the opinions of many. I experimented. I had successes. I had failures. And I grew and grew and grew in my knowledge of all things equestrian.

And I'm still learning, every single day.

But things are going well, I think. Griffin is really coming along so beautifully now. We've developed quite the rhythm with our way of going. The magnitude of what I've done with this little horse doesn't often hit me, but when it does it shocks me. What was once a skinny little colt who knew nothing is now a healthy, muscled gelding who is proceeding beautifully in his work under saddle. A gelding who is beginning to become reliable under saddle, especially on his home trails.

Because of Griffin, I've been able to further build up from the foundation I'd developed from all the horses before. Because of Griffin, I feel confident that I will be able to bring along other youngsters in my future. Because of Griffin, I am experimenting with riding disciplines I'd never considered before. Because of Griffin, I am considering sucking up my fears of showing so he can utilize some of his favorite activities like jumping. Because of Griffin, I've really come into my own as a horse person.

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