The actual Chronicles of Z follow the story of me, Zenith and Monica after she took him home in May 2012. But before we get into the actual Chronicle, I guess it needs an introduction. I met my good friend, Monica Acee in early 2012. She was shopping for a horse to trail ride and had contacted Mike to see if he had anything suitable. While we didn't have anything "finished" we did have some that we thought could be excellent candidates, but they would definitely need more training. This wasn't Monica's first horse by any means. As it turned out, we were both had grown up "horse girls" and horse girls in Colorado at about the same time. We're still amazed that as small as the Colorado Springs horse community was in the early 1980's, we never met at a gymkhana or parade! But Monica was from the "west side" towards Woodland Park and Manitou Springs, and we were from the "east side". Back then anything east of Academy Blvd., was considered the frontier. Like most places, that has changed.
Suffice it to say, Monica is a VERY experienced amateur rider! Someone that grew up like I did...spending all day riding. We really didn't have other hobbies...we had a horse and that's where we wanted to be!
But when we met Monica in 2012, she had developed a confidence issue directly related to riding the wrong horse. After I had gotten to know Monica, I asked her more about the previous horse and the most interesting thing she said was that from the moment she had bought this mare, she thought she had made a mistake! She never really felt comfortable on her but she bought her and rode her anyways! AHA! First point made. She should have listened to that "little voice" in her head. Even when this horse wasn't being bad, she just didn't feel "right" to Monica...who had enough experience to know what the "right" horse would feel like...she just didn't listen to her "gut".
When I asked why she had bought that particular horse, Monica said that she'd been looking for a a new horse for quite a while and hadn't found one and decided to "settle" on that one. Second point made...don't "settle for less".
All along, Monica knew this horse wasn't right, and without going into the details, a big wreck insued, and Monica's confidence took a big hit.
So in March of 2012, we met Monica,and right away, we "clicked". Here was a rider that had learned the way I had. She was a great horseman and by that I mean that I didn't need to teach her all lessons about being an Alpha and a leader...she had already mastered that when she was 12!
She had a confidence issue which we helped sort out for her. The conclusion that I came to was that her previous horse relationship didn't fail because of any lack of riding skill on her part! And it didn't fail because Monica has misread the horse. It failed because Monica failed to listen to herself and because she had been anxious to get back to riding, she bought the wrong horse.
When Monica decided to buy Zenith, we didn't have to convince Monica of the wisdom of working very closely with us and mastering every step of Zenith's training routine. Like most really good horsemen, Monica totally understands the benefits of working her horse on non mounted training. So for 2 months Monica made the drive to come down and observe and then participate in Z's training as we worked with him. There was no better way for her to really learn about his disposition and mannerisms. The pictures below were taken March 22, 2012. The really hard part for Zenith...staying still til told move on. This training takes a fair amount of patience (stubborness works just fine) and you need to plan on spending an hour or more to really do it right. You might not need an hour...but it's best to plan on it.
Zenith and Monica not exactly getting "an A" at the halt because he should stay put on a slack rein, and not rely on being "held in place". So, while he doesn't get a reprimand for this, he also doesn't get the big "atta boy, great job" for this.
This one is much better, and a critical point in the lesson. You can actually see Z, checking to see if Monica really appreciates the effort he's making to stay still on a slack line. You, of course, can't hear it, but he's getting a "good boy" from her verbally!
We were pretty sure that Zenith would be a perfect horse for the way Monica likes to ride! Big long rides ALL BY HERSELF! Monica doesn't have a trail riding partner. It's just her and Z and the big outdoor adventures. Z is the opposite of a "barn sour" horse. He thinks exploration is an excellent plan. However, the tricky thing about Z is that he is an Alpha. As we say, he'd rather be Captain Picard than Riker! Star Trek fans will get this. If you don't know Picard and Riker specifically, suffice it to say that Zenith thinks he is equally qualified to make decisions as Monica. Monica's biggest task is to make sure that the relationship stays clear. She's the captain, he's the crew! The biggest challenge is that Monica and Zenith actually enjoy the same thing......heading out and covering ground.
I'm proud to say that they have become a magnificent team and I still feel like their coach. So when I saw Monica's post this morning which reflected the idea that Zenith is so very much about hitting the trail and "getting a move on", I couldn't help but have the urge to remind "grasshopper" (that would be Monica) of how we spent most of our time in the long lines....we spent it INSISTING that Z "cool his jets" when told to do so. Below is Zenith spotting deer running. He'd love to go join them!
So sometimes, Monica will need to sacrifice a magnificent day of exploring to have a discussion with Z about the fact that if she says "we're doing something boring"...he complies! And knowing Z, it will be a bit of a debate and that won't be anything new. In looking through my log of Zenith workouts...there were, of course, lot's of pictures of him in the long lines outside. In the majority of them, I'm not insisting that he "go"! I'm insisting that he stop. And that he wait. How long? The answer is "until you are given a signal to move on"!