It is now October of 2010, one year after the horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park were rounded up, separated, and 77 sold at public auction. Unfortunately, we have lost track of some of them, but many of their owners are keeping in contact with us and telling us how well the horses are doing.
I will be telling the stories of some of these other horses in future blogs. One of special interest is Bashful, the horses who leaped out of the sales ring in Dickinson, but before I tell his story, let me continue Hawk's tale of progress.
As I related in the last post, Hawk is learning to be brave by playing with all the obstacles I have set up for him in the arena. Besides the can and bottle box, the bridge, the rubber tub, feed sack, and step stool, he has learned to jump over a rail and back through cones. Each new thing become easier as he gains confidence, though the tarp on the ground is still a little frightening to him. We are still working toward loading into the two-horse trailer too. He happily loads and backs out of the stock trailer, but the other one is much more enclosed. I have no doubt that he will be fine with the two-horse once he gets used to it, since he seems to be OK with almost anything once he has a chance to check it out.
Two big steps that he has taken recently are letting the farrier trim his feet and wearing a saddle. With gradual, patient, calm work, Hawk got to where I could handle his rear feet. It was hard for me, because I didn't want to take a chance of being kicked, but I had to stuff the fear deep inside and portray only confidence and trust as I asked for each foot. He has only had the farrier trim him twice since the time of his gelding, and both times he has stood quietly once the farrier pets him a little and shows him he's a friend.
After wearing the surcingle several times, the English saddle was easy. I was able to get him to smell of it and just placed it on him back. So far, the stirrups are tied up, but shortly he will learn to carry a western saddle with the stirrups flapping. I'm quite sure it won't be a big deal to him because he had carried the surcingle around the round pen with the saddle blanket flapping in the wind and he has not minded it. Those of us who are training these horses have found that they are very tolerant when introduced to new things patiently.
I am anxious to be able to ride Hawk next year, once he turns three. He has become such a willing partner who responds with he slightest cue. I have no doubt that his responsiveness with carry over into his under-saddle work and he will continue to be a joy to work with through the coming years.
See photos belo w post