Barb is named so because back when she was a wild thing, veritably feral as part of the Fall City 40, she ran herself through a barbed wire fence. This would not be Barb’s only brush with fencing, as several years later she would tweak her back crawling out of her paddock. From those two sentences alone you can picture what a crafty, tough-as-nails, and determined horse Barb is. These traits bleed into every aspect of who she is, and why she is such a fun (and at times, challenging) horse to work with.

I have been working with Barb the past few months, and had the chance to bring her into the groundwork portion of the March Joel Conner clinic. When we first started working together, Barb was coming off a bit of a vacation, and she made that fact clear. Sure, she would go forward, but with the intensity and drama of a rocket being launched — not matching my feel at all. When I’d send her out loose, she’d go full ‘hamster at 3AM on a wheel,’ running mach-10 around the round pen, squashing all my attempts to get her attention and draw her in. Working with Barb was an exercise in not only showing her that I meant something, but also in leveling my own patience as she performed her antics.

But with time and consistency, Barb and I settled into a routine and a better understanding of one another. By the time the clinic came around, there was more feel between us, and we were able to work on more than just trying to get her with me.

Barb is a horse who, when she feels unable to move her feet, reacts in a major way. The fact that she has stopped exploding as much gives me hope that I am actually getting to her feet, and she is freeing up a bit more. Over the clinic weekend, we worked a lot on hindquarters, really getting her to reach under herself and engage her hind end. Her hindquarters to the left are still a bit ‘sticky,’ so she needs extra encouragement on that side. Barb still has a difficult time differentiating between when the flag means something and when it doesn’t, so we also worked on making that distinction more clear.

It is a lot of fun working with Barb, and I am proud of her progress. This spunky little cutie is going to make someone a fun horse, hopefully some day soon!