Wednesday, January 16, 2013

how i got into halfingers

I got into horses at a later age than most. When I was a kid, I was into a lot of things and horses never really crossed my mind. I started out with ballet (can you imagine?), swimming, and competitive figure skating. By eighth grade, I was burned out! For skating, I had to get up at 4:30am skate before school, get to school late then leave early for more skating. It was pretty intense. When I finally hung up the skates, I took a break from everything. I did play school sports like volleyball and tennis, then I completed my high school career running cross country and track. When I started college, I was through!

My friend Robin bought her horse Ryleigh and I started going out to the barn with her. There was this one horse at the barn . . . she was super annoying, always kicking her stall door and everyone was always yelling at her to stop. She was a pony and she could barely be seen over the stall door. I couldn't stand her! I was told she was like a cross between a Shetland pony and a Budweiser horse. She was pushy, loud, fat, nippy, and had this look on her face that I can't even describe. 

I continued going to this barn with Robin. Sometimes I got to ride Ryleigh for a bit, but Robin had her lessons so I did a lot of hanging out.  One day Robin's trainer asked if I wanted to ride a horse. Um, yes! And she proceeded to bring out the short, fat, annoying pony horse. I was not convinced that this was a good idea. 

She tacked this pony horse up and I crawled on. She gave me basic instructions on what to do and how to work this horse. Since she was a lesson horse, she knew the drill. But she also knew how to get out of the drill. . .

This horse was Mia. No, it wasn't love at first sight, it wasn't even like at first sight. But it seems that all the animals I fall in love with it takes me a while to really warm up to them. 
What can I say. . .Mia grew on me. I would ride her every time I went to the barn. I bought Mia her own grooming supplies. I brought her apples and carrots every time I saw her. And I rode! 

Typical Haflinger that she was, Mia did give me my fair share of grief. She refused to trot without a crop in hand. I didn't have to use it, she just had to know I had it. She would break out of cross ties (multiple times) to make a run for the grass. She would almost break fences to get to grass. She would decide on certain days that she would not stand by the mounting block and make a 15 minute game of it. Mia's top speed, unless it otherwise suited her, was a crawl. 

Mia often chose to go where she wanted and since I was a beginner, I had limited steering especially at the trot. So we would trot up and down the center line of the arena and I would say were were practicing our 100 yard dash. I rode Mia down the rode (where she chased a van and produced a fancy unasked for dressage move) and I rode her in the outdoor arena by myself.  I rode her bareback, sometimes just to give my knees a break (she was so round they would hurt after riding!). Fat Mia was so comfortable bareback. But she also knew I had even less control. More than once Mia walked us right out of the arena and into the grain stall. She was a Haflinger with only food on her mind!

Mia was bombproof. She was amazing. She was funny. She would nicker when she saw me. When Robin decided it was time for her to move to a new barn, I offered to buy Mia so I could take her with me. Obviously, I was turned down. And then I was sad. But my mind was made up. I was bit by the Haflinger bug! That was the only horse I would even look at when looking for my own. And I really wanted a mare. 
Mia did not like Jolly Ranchers!
Tadaaa! I got Shyloh! And although I haven't been able to ride her like I rode Mia, we have had our own journey and it has been fun. Hard at times, but fun. I wouldn't trade it for 1000 Mias!

How did you get into your breed of horse? Or the horse you now own? Will that be your next horse, too? I think it's only Haflingers for me!

18 comments:

  1. Loved reading your story, those wise ponies really do have so much character! I'm glad Mia got you on the track of Haflingers, they are such wonderful characters and would definitely be in my top 3 equine breeds! As you know I've got mules, wouldn't have anything else now, love their character, free spirit and intelligence and the fact that they definitely don't do what they don't want to! Like Mia did for you they've made me a better trainer and taught me so much, we owe these equines a lot :-)

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    1. I feel so bad, I should have said equine!! Your three make me laugh so much!

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  2. Haflingers are seriously so much fun. But you honestly have to be a very specific type of rider to ride them. People think they're slow and dumb and dead beat. NOT!! They're freaking smart, and just as sensitive as a mustang, in a much calmer way. They're awesome

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    1. They are smart! I've said many times that Shy is smarter than me! You always have to be one step ahead.

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  3. Ooooh you're giving more post ideas!! I'm really into looking for things to write about that don't have to based on present events because I know that once my classes really get going, I won't have a lot of interesting stuff to write. A flashback post may be in the works now....Thanks! ;)

    Mia is adorable. I loved the YouTube video. :)

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  4. Loved reading about your being captured in love with Mia and on to wonderful Shyloh! Once hooked on a particular type of horse, always hooked. Love reading about your adventures with Shy!

    You asked about current horse: We are and always have been captivated by TWH. We've had 4 black Tennessee Walkers over 35 years. (always the old foundation type, being tall, heavy, long stride, mellow plantation walkers.)We've traveled miles, always as a matched pair. We're had them all until their last days. (once home, always home) We now have only Royal, the love of our life!

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    1. Ooops: I said "we've had 4 black TW over 35 years".

      Need to explain, the 4 horses weren't over 35 (years old). Meant to say, we've had horses for more than 35 years and they were all young black TW who lived out their lives with us. Sure hope I got that right, this time. :-)

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  5. Enjoyed your post a lot. I can't imagine anything but a Haflinger now. Perhaps a Donkey or Mule along with a Haflinger would be nice ;)
    I so enjoy something that has the brains to offer thought out opinions!

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    1. Me too! There is a guy who has Haflinger mules down in Ohio. . .they are a trip!

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  6. So glad you shared this story, I always wondered about your horse history!

    I am a Thoroughbred girl because my first eventer was one. He was a pistol but man, what a great horse. Once that love was formed I have never looked to another breed. Appies are my close second. :)

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    1. My horse history is not long like most peoples!

      Funny how that one horse gets us hooked :)

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  7. I love love this story. I started horses later than most too. And one mare sucked me in. I need to do a post about Belle Horse sometime.

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  8. I was a figure skater too! I actually continued to take lessons on and off until about 7 or 8 years ago. My skates are still in the closet just in case I feel the urge to hit the ice again.

    I have always admired Haflingers but haven't had much opportunity to get to know them. There is finally one at the barn I board at and he is just adorable! Really neat breed.

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    1. They really are different than any horse breed I have met.

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