Tiki is the first baby that we've bred that I've kept and raised from birth. Sure, we raised her dam, Mona Lisa, from 5 months old to adulthood and her sire, Masetto (AKA Eddie) raised from 4 months old:
|Tiki's sire at 4 months old|
|Tiki's sire at 4 years old|
|Me imprinting our first foal, Gossamer|
With Tiki, I didn't have this concern, so she bonded very quickly and hermetically to me and I have been her sole caretaker for most of her life. With this bond comes consequences, both good and bad. My goal for her is that she is my companion, my riding horse, my pet, my Trail Buddy. If she happens to be good at dressage, GREAT! If not, I have an in-utero warmblood on the way that, by all means, should be a stupendous dressage horse.
|My warmblood foal due in spring 2013 :-)|
This weekend we had a bunch of construction equipment in the yard by her field. She had been in the barn and hadn't been able to see the machines, just hear them. During morning feed, I walked Ariana out and had her promptly whip around and stop and STARE on the way out to her field. Tiki, on the other hand, casually looked over on the way to the gate, almost like she just nodded at the machines and said "huh......cool.....new stuff" and moved on. Whether it's been a running tractor, a truck parked right by the gate, the Gator driving right up to her, she's fearless and not very reactionary at all with new experiences. I took her for trail walks several times and it's truly remarkable how settled she is, even walking in a location she has never been before, crossing little streams, blazing paths into the woods that she's never been in before. She's alert, but stays right with me and is relaxed enough to graze quietly, stand quietly and not pull to get back to the barn. If she does startle for any reason, she very consistently jumps, gets to the end of the lead rope and stops. She doesn't pull, she doesn't try to get away at all. She feels safest with me and by my side and watches for my reactions. She walks through narrow openings, through questionable footing, up banks, down banks, through fabric sheds, blinded by light to dark or dark to light and couldn't care less. Even with her pasturemate Rambler losing his ever-loving mind and screaming, galloping, tossing himself around in the air in the field, she didn't jig and just looked casually at him and recognized him as a complete drama-filled goofball. She is comfortable enough in her own skin that you can take other horses out of the pasture without her losing her mind and just pacing a bit until she starts paying attention to something else. When she was turned out with Doc as a yearling, she regularly had to be turned out first by herself while Doc slowly chewed his way through his breakfast and she handled the solitary turnout well.
The downside: much like her father Eddie, I can't just hand over the lead rope and expect that she'll behave for anyone else. She IS a fiery redhead, she IS very opinionated, she DOES have one hell of a temper and can pull out a temper tantrum that even made our vet take a few steps backwards in fear. She can go from standing still to windmilling the air with her front feet and landing in a kneeling position, stomping her one front foot in pure anger like I have never seen in another equine. She's nearly laid down while pawing the ground so hard I wondered if people in China were looking at each other and saying "did you hear that?!" Her chest was mere inches from the ground she was bowing so deep while pounding the ground with her front legs, ears flat back and teeth bared at the ground. She spent two full months pretty much walking out to the pasture purely on her hind legs and resisting every single attempt to convince her that rearing is NOT acceptable, nor is it a normal mode of traveling gait. We had stop, rear, walk while rearing, trot while rearing (this is impressive) and various forms of airs above the ground. She seriously did some moves I have only seen done by Lippizaners. If I tie her in the cross ties in the grooming stall and walk out of sight while the farrier works on her, she begins to dance, paw, and her confidence goes to zero. Thankfully, we now walk out to the pasture again on 4 legs :-) The Terrible Twos came early for this filly, and they're already starting to fade.
So, she's a work in progress, and much like her mother and father, who I raised both since they were 5 months old, I expect that she will be the unusually incredibly level-headed horse I see now with a "button" to turn on the fire and stoke when needed. Like Dolly, I expect she will be the type of horse that nearly anyone can get up on and ride around and she will pack them around at a walk like a champ. Get someone with some knowledge in the saddle and she will puff up underneath them and give them an incredible ride. And, for me, like Doc, Dolly, Winter and Eddie that came before her, she will reserve that extra spark for when I call on it and only hand that to me and perhaps a precious short list of other riders that she connects with in a lifetime. She truly is growing into her own now and I have to say I'm proud of how ahead of the curve she is for a filly of her age. Her willingness to learn, memory retention, and cognitive ability to problem solve rivals that of her sire and make her a fun horse to work with overall.
I promise to keep you posted as she starts to learn new things in the next year and has many "firsts" along the way :-)