Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Horse!

Took ownership of a 2007, AQHA gelding, grullo morning of May 15, 2011. I have been wanting a younger, more athletic horse, and this guy seemed to fit the bill.

He has the mousy brown color of the grullo. And in order to be a grullo, he has to have some dun characteristics.

Definition: Grullo is a color of horses in the dun family, characterized by tan-gray or mouse-colored hairs on the body, often with shoulder and dorsal stripes and black barring on the lower legs. In this coloration each individual hair is mouse-colored, unlike a roan which is composed of a mixture of dark and light hairs. There are several shades of grullo, informally referred to with a variety of terms including black dun, blue dun, slate grullo, silver grullo, silver dun, or lobo dun.

I especially like the bronze metallic sheen he has at the right angle. He is well put together, and well muscled. He has just about ALL of the dun characteristics.

Here are some first impressions:

He traveled well. Some of my horses are weak in the knees after a 4 hour haul. He looked fresh. Maybe it's the new slant load trailer; it HAS to be more comfortable than my old open stock trailer. But he landed with plenty of pep. He is nice and slow to back out of trailer, feeling for the drop VERY carefully. I'd MUCH rather have that than a horse that bolts out and gets one or both of us hurt. I let him take his time, and didn't rush him in any way.

He didn't get all "high headed" the way many horses do when first arriving at a new place. Not a whinny from him. He just seemed starved for the hay and water I offered him. He walked around a back paddock I placed him in, and sniffed at manure piles. So far so good.

I left him for a few hours to acclimate while I did some mowing on the tractor. I got back to him, and he walked up to me to be caught. THAT was a nice change from my other horses. Only Woody, my 17 year old finished horse, ever walks up that readily. Stayed still for halter.

He gave me his front feet readily. A little tentative with the rear. But I pick my horses often, and I really ask them to give me their hind foot fully, so most horses start to get easy after a month or so with me. If not, I use ropes to "soften" their give. But I think time and slow, careful handling will get him better. I was careful to PLACE his feet down, rather than just drop them. That way they learn to place their hooves, and there's less chance they will get shy with their hooves OR step on me!

Good hard hooves. A little bulge in the rears. We'll see what my farrier says. He's never been shod.

He led to the round pen well. I didn't have to drag him, nor did he charge out in front.

Flexed well from ground. Nice give. B+ grade for flexing.

He longed well. He has definitely done this before. Good changes of direction. I didn't push him to, but he made a few good turns on his back end anyway. Small reminders needed to get him to yield hindquarters and face me. Controlled energy. Everything at a trot, which is about all I want when in that tight of a circle so as not to overstress joints cantering in a tight circle. Grade of B.

Round penning was interesting. He was reluctant to canter for long stretches. I had to really keep my energy up. I thought this would be easier, but he may be a lower energy horse that needs a little extra cue to keep up his energy. Took the correct lead every time but once, and then quickly did a flying lead change to correct. His canter needs to come easier. Turns were a mixture of inside and outside. Eventually, I will want only inside turns, but this was more about seeing where he is before getting goal oriented with my training. I quit a little earlier than I usually do, before there were obvious signs of submission, but he just stopped and then walked entire length of round pen to join up with me. I really liked the last part, especially when he doesn't even know me and I had just sent him going. He was really looking for human leadership. Round penning is a hole for him, but nothing I can't deal with.
I'd grade him a C+.

He was doing so well, I decided to ride him. This is more than I had planned for him on his first day, but it was apparent that he was well started and he should be able to tolerate a ride. He stood still tied for saddling. No dancing around. Good. Grade B.

He is short-backed. My usual saddle is neither long nor short skirted, but when I positioned the saddle where I though it should fit him and keep his shoulders free, I was well into his hind end with the skirt edges. I really like a saddle to leave the shoulders and hind end free, and so this may be an issue. I have a short skirted gaited saddle that I will try on him next. He has good withers and held the saddle well. He is trim and lean, and I had to punch new holes for the rear cinch and breast collar. He's really a little thing. I taped his height and he is along the lines of 14.1. He was described as 14.3, but he is well short of that. I will re-measure him with James's help, but I don't think he's going to measure more than 14.2. This is shorter than I wanted.

I started in the round pen. He took the bridle decently; using a myler snaffle. He stood still for mounting. As soon as I mounted, he flexed to the right. On his own! Hilarious. He has obviously been taught to flex a lot from the saddle. Nothing wrong with that, as that was pretty much my plan anyway, but I appreciated the eagerness. He flexes very well from the saddle, and understood the one rein stop. We did a bunch of those. He walked well, but a little slow. I had to encourage him more than I like to for the trot and canter. He needs to be a little more tuned into my seat. I noticed this on my first ride with him pre-purchase as well. Getting him to canter required WAY too much energy on my part. A little quirt or crop might help with that. But he was also reluctant to canter in the round pen without a lot of energy from me, so he was being consistent, so that means I can correct the issue on the ground, without having to do it from the saddle, and leave my saddle time to be subtle. I don't want to "deaden" him with exaggerated cues to canter from the saddle....make sense? I want him changing speeds with subtle shifts in my energy.

He was very under control while riding. Never felt loose. Decent stop and back up. His previous owner has been working hard at collection, and the horse definitely knew to drop his head with slight bit pressure. He rounded his back nicely. He tends to over exaggerate to escape the bit, though, and his head gets very low. That's OK for now, but I'm going to be working on framing him a little better with his head in the proper position as we go along. Again, this was just a feel out ride, not very goal oriented.

We were feeling good, and I wanted to ride, so I decided to chance it and do a trail ride. He side-passed beautifully from the saddle, and stood still for me to open the gate out of the round pen. And we were out!

We met the herd in the front pasture, and I let him see my other 3 horses from across the fence. He was cool, but excited. No stupid behavior on any horse's part. Good. We hit the easiest trail in my neighborhood. We met people, dogs, other horses on the way, and he took it all in stride.

He does need some work walking in a straight line. He was walking like he had at least 2-3 beers. I've felt lots of young horses do this, and I'll just need to do some concentrated work walking directly to this fence post and that, to show him how to walk in a straight line. This is just a matter of time and practice.

He has a VERY slow walk on the trail. We alternated walking and trotting. I will work on getting a faster walk out of him, because this plodding walk is not going to work for me. We did try a few rollbacks along a fence from the trot. He gave me about 2 out of 6 great rollbacks. The other 4 were marginal. But his previous owner kind of warned me that his rollbacks weren't complete. I think I could have gotten better out of him, but this ride was just all about feeling him out. I didn't push the issue.

Overall, my riding experience was a C+ with him. He needs a faster walk, straight direction, and should require less energy to change gaits. But he was a steady mount and there was no foolishness. That's a great temperament that I can build on.

I was very pleased with him overall. He has holes, and now I know where they are, but so far, I haven't seen anything I can't handle.


Anonymous said...

Thorough evaluation - he sounds like a really nice horse with a pretty good start on him - will be interested to read about your progress.

Unknown said...

Now I can see why you thought Smokey was Grullo.

You definitely put him through his paces on the first day. It'll be interesting to see how he adapts with your expectations.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Sounds like a nice horse. He is a pretty color.