Category Archives: Gracie

Gracie: Training update and Joel Conner Clinic

Erika had this to say about her work with Gracie in the clinic:

This clinic was the second one that I’ve participated in with Gracie. She is such a sweet mare, and I really can’t say enough good things about her. She connects with humans very quickly, and will try anything that’s asked of her. From the ground, she can easily be sent out on a circle in either direction, and she continues to improve on moving forward or backward, and stopping, in time with my feet. She is very good at carrying a float in the lead, as well as in the reins, and she picks up a soft feel with no issue. Gracie yields her hind well, and transitions from walk to trot smoothly. She’s capable of holding a fairly slow jog or an extended trot equally well. One thing she’s still getting the hang of is transitioning from trot to canter/lope. To help her with this, I’m utilizing the “seashell” exercise, wherein she is required to yield her hind and then her front in quick succession, without falling forward, and without ending up behind me. Using the flag for this exercise has been especially helpful. Under saddle, she’s pretty sensitive to leg and seat pressure. She is really good at staying focused while working, and she doesn’t call out to herd-mates or get very jumpy when another horse gets close. During one exercise this weekend, we paired up with other riders and their horses to get close enough for the other rider to reach over and touch our horses. Gracie did really well, and only squealed when another horse tried to nip at her hind end. All in all, she is a fabulous mare, and I’m lucky to get to work with her!

Health Update: Gracie

We are so happy to report that Miss Gracie is feeling happy and healthy! When the winter weather hit and turnout became limited, the amount of time outside or grazing for the horses was drastically shortened. While we work very hard to rotate all of the horses out into the arena or dry lot, there just is not enough space or time to equal what it was in the summer.

Gracie unfortunately had two very mild colics about 2 weeks apart when this transition to limited turnout occurred. She felt better each time with just a dose of bananime and the vet did not need to come out to see her but we new something needed to change. After talking to Dr. Fleck we suggested that we transition her over to a 3/4 senior complete feed mash and 1/4 hay diet. This made a world of difference and Gracie seems happier than she has ever been at Safe Harbor. Her eyes are bright and her personality and energy levels are very good.

One of the cutest part of our day is preparing and bringing her her mash. She LOVES it and LOVES you for bringing it to her. There is a lot of nickering and yummy yummy messy lips to show you how happy she is for the food. It is our hope that when she finds her forever home, her new people might have more turnout and grazing pastures for her to live on. She could then transition over to more of the traditional hay and grain as vitamin type of diet but for now she is really thriving on what we are doing for her.

Here are a few photos of Gracie and volunteer Melissa:

Training Update: Gracie

Here is what volunteer rider Erika has to report from working with Gracie:

“Gracie: Gracie wore the Back On Track underneath her blanket for an hour. It seems to help her be not so stiff when we start working. Gracie was in a good mood and was nice and forward for warm up. I’d planned to use both the round pen and the arena, but we ended up staying in the round pen. Gracie did really well today! We’ve been working on her transitions up and down, and we had VERY little rein contact for her Walk-Trot-Lope-Trot-Walk (in both directions) today!!!! We haven’t worked in Walk-Halt-Back quite yet, but I’m confident she’ll pick that up really quickly.”

Joel Conner Clinic Report: Gracie

SAFE’s volunteer riders and their horses spent last weekend working with Joel Conner. Here’s a report from Erika S about her session with Gracie:

gracie_11_20_2016_01My first time working with Gracie was two nights prior to the clinic. She seemed anxious, and seemed like she was constantly trying to predict what I was going to ask her to do. Saturday morning, during our first session, I noticed that she had some stickiness with hindquarter yielding, which caused her to fall in on her shoulders and crowd me. This turned out to be partially my fault though, and I figured out later that I wasn’t being clear enough with my requests. As soon as Joel helped me clarify my asks, and suggested that I slow down my motions, Gracie and I got on the same page.

Saturday afternoon, Gracie was still a tiny bit anxious, but the riding ended up going really well. We ended the session having achieved both a nice even “threading the needle” trot, and the elusive soft feel. It felt great to get to that point with Gracie after just two rides!

Sunday morning, we picked up where we left off, and worked a lot on getting a soft bend in her neck. I wanted her to be more relaxed all over, and I really wanted to be clearer with my requests. We did a lot of backing circles, which she picked up very quickly. That seemed to help her with not falling in on her shoulders going forward, too.

Sunday afternoon, the riding felt really good. We got the soft feel right away, and we even added in more tasks. We started working on stopping when I sit deep in the saddle, gathering reins quickly and backing, getting the soft feel at a trot, and yielding hindquarters through a corner (and at a trot!). Although everything we did during the clinic was wonderful, my favorite part was definitely riding on a loose rein. It was really empowering! My personal takeaways from this clinic are learning to communicate better with my seat, resulting in being able to ride on a loose rein without fear of losing control, and being concise with my asks.

Here are some photos of Gracie and Erika working together at the clinic:

Bridgit & Gracie Get Massages

Brigit and Gracie were treated last week to massages from Lara Lutz of Island Equine Massage. Lara is a long time SAFE supporter, adopted mom to Amber & Louie, and a member of SAFE’s Board of Directors. She is also now a licensed equine massage practitioner. Lara has offered to come help give some much needed TLC and bodywork to a few of our horses. Here are a few things she had to say about meeting Bridgit and Gracie:

Bridgit – This was my first interaction with Bridgit. She is a personable girl and will play with the zipper on your coat pocket and nicker to you for treats. I really enjoyed working on her – she especially loved when I worked on her hind end, and it was rewarding to watch her lower her head and sway her body in relaxation. 

Gracie – Today was my first time working with Gracie. She has a kind eye and is a sweet mare. Much of our session focused on helping her poll and neck areas. The copious amounts of yawning and licking and chewing showed just how much she enjoyed and benefited from our time together. 

Good girl Gracie!

Gracie has been making super progress under saddle, learning to relax and listen to the feel of her rider. She seems to have been ridden with a lot of rein aid in the past, so we are working on getting her to tune into the presence of her rider rather than relying on heavy use of the rein. Gracie is very sensitive to being asked to move forward, and she easily leg yields with very little asking from her rider’s leg. She’s also beginning to halt from the rider’s feel, which is great. Gracie had four days off before this video was shot, and it only took a little bit of work on the ground before she was ready to be ridden. She is a pleasure to ride, with soft, light, and smooth gaits. We’re still just working at the walk and trot, since Gracie can get a little excited in her upward transitions, but as soon as she learns to stay with her rider, she’ll be ready to start working in the lope with a more relaxed and trusting state of mind.

Round pen work with Terry:

Under saddle:

Just for fun, Gracie getting her blanket on:

Spa Day for Gracie

New girl Gracie got her first spa treatment….. she is SUCH a sweetheart!! Her tail was saved by Canter Main & Tail…Gracie says that if Canter is looking for a spokes-horse, she should be the one!

gracie_07_24_2016_02 gracie_07_24_2016_01

Meet new SAFE horse Gracie!

Gracie_08_30_2016_06Gracie is a sweet and elegant half Arab mare who was surrendered to SAFE in July 2016. Her owner’s declining health and finances made it impossible for her to continue to care for her. She’s not been ill treated but she’s essentially spent the past 6 years turned out to pasture. As a result, she’s gone far too long without basic care, like teeth floating and regular farrier work. She came to us with badly cracked hooves, and teeth in desperate need of floating.

Since taking her in, we have been contacted by another past owner who provided us with full medical records as well as her AHA registration papers.

Gracie spent a few weeks in quarantine at Safe Harbor, giving us the chance to get to know her. She’s an incredibly sweet and affectionate mare, who nickers all the time. She nickers when you put on her halter, she nickers when you pet her or talk to her, she nickers as you walk past her stall. She really likes people! She also gets along wonderfully with the other horses she’s been turned out with.

Because she’s been turned out for so many years, Gracie definitely needs some refresher training before we can offer her as a riding horse. She does show some anxiety about things like girthing, so we’ve started her on groundwork. Like many of the mature horses that come to SAFE who have been shaped by the good and bad experiences in their lives, Gracie is not coming to us as a “blank slate.” She’s had to rely on herself for basic survival for so long that it can be difficult to connect with her at first. Being independent is her way of keeping herself protected, so it’s kind of her go-to frame of mind when being asked to do things. This is not to say that she’s disobedient…far from it! She’s quite cooperative and willing on the ground. It’s just that she sort of zones out during groundwork, and connecting with her is not easy. But the sparks of trust and connection are there, and with continued slow and patient work, she will come to understand that we mean her no harm, and in fact she can look to us for direction and reassurance when she needs it.

Physically she is in good shape, except for her feet and her teeth. Her feet were badly neglected and cracked when we took her in, and she is going to need probably 4-5 months of remedial farrier work to correct them. She’s had an initial float done, but again it’s going to take quite some time before her teeth are normal. She has such severe waves and shearing in her molars that the act of chewing forces her food outward into her cheeks. As a result we see a lot of quidding from her. The plan is to do another float in 3 months and again in 6 months. Because she’s relatively young (for an Arab!), our vet is hopeful that it is not too late to make significant improvements to her teeth.

Here are Gracie’s intake photos: