Kiara is a 5 yo BLM mustang mare. She stands approximately 14.3 hands and is a Buckskin from the Calico Mountain HMA. She was captured in December 2011 as a 4 year old. We picked her up from the Ridgecrest Holding Facility on April 17, 2013. Kiara is being gentled as part of Mustang Heritage Foundations Trainer Incentive Program. I chose her name because she reminds me of Simba’s cub Kiara, in Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Kiara is not broke to ride although with training she should make a very nice riding horse.
Kiara has been adopted. Cargo’s adopter thinks he’s super awesome and wanted to add another mustang to his herd!
Day 115 – 08/10/2013
Training Day 34
Kiara went to her adopter today. She loaded no problem the very first time but then shot out like a bullet on the unload. We worked on it until she was more confident backing out. She hauled very smooth, unloaded reasonably well and settled into her new pen just fine. I was able to give her adopter an overview of how she is trained which is always good. Saw Cargo and he looks awesome! All shed out and looks like a million bucks! It was night so I didn’t get any pictures. All in all a great trip and I know Kiara is in great hands with her new adopter.
Day 113 – 08/08/2013
Training Day 33
Today was the first saddling for Kiara. Worked with just putting the saddle on and off. No babying here. I’m fortunate to have a light weight kids saddle around which makes it much easier to swing the saddle up 25 or 30 times if you need to. Once she was OK with the saddle being put on from both sides we went to the pad with the saddle. Cinching went ok, remember we’d cinched her before with the bareback pad. All was OK with the saddle till she got going a little fast. She got scared and bucked some, scraped her face in the panel. She caught me by surprise and in the mix of things my rope got caught under the stirrup flap so I couldn’t help her much to sort it out. As soon as I thought she was looking for help I asked her to come in which she did readily. I knew I needed to adjust the saddle but didn’t want to put myself in a tight spot. I asked her to walk off each way so I could gauge her reaction. She was OK so I took the saddle off and put it back on. I sent her around again. She did very well and didn’t buck any more. The saddle started sliding again so I found a good point to end and called it a night.
A couple things tonight I should have done differently. I started out looking for a navajo pad so the saddle could get a tighter fit. I couldn’t readily find one so I just used the regular thicker pad. I knew I should have used a thinner pad and should have took the extra 10 minutes to go find it. Using the thicker pad made the saddle more likely to slide, which it did, and put us in what could have turned into a wreck had the saddle slipped more than it did. Likewise, I used a pony cinch because I thought my regular cinch would be too large. When I noticed the pony cinch was too small I loosened it to the last hole on the off side instead of getting another one. A better fitting cinch would have helped me get a snugger fit with the saddle and also help to prevent it from slipping. Overall I feel very positive about the lesson and realize I’m very lucky she didn’t get into a wreck for my lack of the proper equipment. She learned the saddle won’t kill her and I learned its worth taking the time to use the right equipment.
Day 112 – 08/06/2013
Training Day 32
There wasn’t much light when we arrived home today so Kiara got just a brief lesson. Video is uploading but I took some time to introduce her to the saddle slicker. She did very well! The video shows her training session start to finish.
Day 111 – 08/05/2013
Training Day 31
Review session for Kiara was great. No need to get it on video, same stuff from the long video below! Here is what we did new. As you can see the pool was NO problem for her! We worked on getting her to more consistently cross through the pool rather than step over or around it. She wasn’t afraid of it just didn’t see the point! The tarp is a non-issue. Next session we’ll see what she thinks about wearing that and maybe a few other things (like the saddle). I also practiced leading her in and out of her stall. I had setup the obstacles in an adjacent stall and she wanted to rush past me going through the thresholds so we worked quite a bit on going just one step at a time. Went around the obstacle course again and practiced with her being “sent” over the obstacles instead of lead over them. That will help when I need to “send” her into a trailer eventually! All in all a great session for her.
Day 109 – 08/03/2013
Training Day 30
Lots of work with Kiara today and she did exceptionally well for the 30 – 45 min we worked with her after a 2 day break. She’s been standing tied everyday for about an hour for the past couple of days and doing really well. If she really pulled back she could get loose but she doesn’t. I don’t count those as training days unless I do something other than catch her and tie her. Todays video is over 15 min if you watch the full length version. This is because I left all of the video of me getting her used to having her tail brushed. I also show some of the work I had to do with her today to continue to build her confidence with that right rear foot. The farrier will be coming out soon and I want to do what I can to be able to help her first experience go a smoothly as possible. You can see through out the video that even when she is scared she never offers to kick, a testament to her good temperament in my opinion. I like to think she enjoys our time together, she’s the only one of my mustangs that whinney’s when she sees me every time I walk out of the house. The long video is still uploading. Here is the “short” version which is still about 6 minutes long and the long version is about 17.
Day 106 – 07/31/2013
Training Day 29
Lots of work today with getting more comfortable with foot handling. Did lots of grooming. Kiara isn’t sure about having her tail touched so we did lots of practice sliding my hand down her tail then back to rubbing then touch the tail etc. Had a request for turnout video of Kiara. This is her first time in the being turned out. She was very nervous at first and soon settled down.
Day 105 – 07/30/2013
Training Day 28
At some point in my training day calculations I skipped head 10 days..the woe’s of copy / paste. I have that corrected now and realized Kiara only has 28 days of training not 38.
Today was our 3rd day working on back feet. She did really great yesterday but was unsure again today. You can see in the video what I meant when I say she is apprehensive on that right side. You can see her lean into me in anticipation. I did try that foot twice and rewarded her for picking it up even though she didn’t hold it for me like I would like. That’s OK and she’ll get more and more practice in the coming days before the farrier comes out. I also couldn’t remember if I had ever gotten video footage of this mare on the obstacle course. She did the railroad ties without a hitch. She wasn’t sure about the bridge so in the video you get to see her start to finish work it out!
Remember Kiara is still looking for an adopter. I’ll be headed up towards Reno, NV to pick up Malibu soon and so can offer a good deal on transport anywhere between LA and Reno.
Day 104 – 07/29/2013
Training Day 27
More review tonight with feet and she’s still doing great. Can pick up all four feet reliably now. We’re working on prepping her for her first trim. Trailer loading is next as soon as the trailer is back from getting new tires! Kiara is now far enough along that an adopter can submit an application for her. We’ll be headed up to Reno in the next week or two and can provide transport for her between Los Angeles, CA and Reno, NV for a very reasonable fee!
Day 100 – 07/25/2013
Training Day 26
Another great session for Kiara today. After 10 days off I expected to have to do some review but that was not the case at all. I haltered her within seconds and she was very good for grooming all over. We even got all four feet picked up. Both fronts were easy because she knows how to do that. The left rear was no problem and she’s not quite sure about the right rear. All in all no kicking or balking. She’s a little apprehensive about those back feet but she did very, very well! We’ll try to get video on her next time.
Day 90 – 07/15/2013
Training Day 25
Great session with Kiara. Brushed all the way down all four legs and cinched the bareback pad down for the first time. If you’ll remember we’d already done cinch preparation a few sessions back, a lesson I reinforced. I believe it paid off she did very well and didn’t buck at all. She still needs work but she made great progress today. She is still worried sometimes but does try to think about what is going on.
Day 83 – 07/08/2013
Training Day 24
Lots of review for Kiara today since its been over a week since she was worked with last. She is a smart cookie and retains a lot. She remembered how to disengage her hindquarters so much so that she was anticipating before the rope even got behind her leg. Still walks right up to me to be haltered. I brushed and re-braided her mane to the right side. Her new lesson for the day was backing. At first she had a lot of trouble with it but once I rewarded that first step backward it was clear sailing. By the end of our lesson this evening she was backing up with just a suggestion with me over 12 feet away from her. Very impressed!
Day 71 – 06/25/2013
Training Day 23
Continued with yesterdays lesson for Kiara. Worked on both sides this time. She remembered yesterdays lesson well but the opposite side was a whole NEW lesson. We just worked through it step by step the same as we had on the other side and she figured it out. This time the lesson was a lot easier though. Smart mare!
Day 70 – 06/24/2013
Training Day 22
Today I had a couple of things planned for Kiara and I to work on but it turns out the first was more than enough for the day. I have done a lot of work getting her comfortable to the rope all over her body. To start I thought I’d ask her for a hindquarter disengagement, using the rope, for the first time. I stood on her left side, flipped the rope over to her right side and down her hindquarters to her buttocks. Boy was she NOT happy when I applied pressure. Instead of yielding she took off like a rocket. I held steady pressure and waited her out. Eventually she stopped and I released. We repeated that scenario about 3 times and she finally figured it out. Once she understood that running wasn’t going to get rid of the rope she started to think about what would. She finally started to give to pressure, I’d release, pretty soon we consistently were working together to get disengagements to the left. Next we’ll review and try the right!
Day 62 – 06/16/2013
Training Day 21
Worked on some basics with Kiara. She was great to halter and attentive when I walked into her stall. She seemed jumpy last session around her hind end so I did some more desensitization there. I think that helped her a lot with her comfort. Asked her for her feet and she did OK with that. She’s pretty comfortable with the ropes so I decided to go ahead and do some cinch prep with her. I always start mine with a ring around the belly that I can tighten and loosen in an approach / retreat fashion. Kiara definitely wasn’t sure about that at first and bucked a little but pretty soon was giving to pressure on the rope or at least not reacting to it which is always a good thing. She’ll be ready for the bareback pad next session or two!
Day 59 – 06/13/2013
Training Day 20
Good session for Kiara. Haltering is going really well for her. Discovered she has some holes with her hind end, really jumpier than I thought she’d be. She’s doing good with her front feet though. Great about following me around and getting attention!
Day 55 – 06/09/2013
Training Day 19
Worked teaching Kiara to lunge with softness. When she gets scared she takes off and doesn’t stop or bend to give into the rope.I am going to continue to work with her on giving her neck and softening as I introduce her to new, scary objects. I want to reinforce with her that she can be scared and still bend to the lead line. Building her confidence in me and her trust in my leadership role I believe will go a long way in preventing her from making a habit of leaving. She’s done it twice now and I need to give her an alternate course of action when she needs to leave.
Day 44 – 05/30/2013
Training Day 18
This evening’s video shows a couple of firsts for Kiara. First time touching her below her knees, and first time taking her halter off / putting it back on. She did very well. It’s been a while since she was asked to yield her forequarters so that took some review. She is definitely making progress with each training session!
Day 41 – 05/27/2013
Training Day 17
Another awesome session with Kiara. Despite the break in training she remained easy to catch, light and soft on the line, and attentive to me and what was being asked of her. Those were all the green lights I needed to take her out of her pen for the first time. She did very well. She was apprehensive at first but I allowed her time to settle and gain confidence before asking her to proceed. We spent about 10 minutes on the obstacle course. I asked her to cross the railroad ties but she wasn’t sure about that. The wind started kicking up really bad and my videographer decided to go inside rather than get sand blasted. Kiara and I worked about another 7 or 8 minutes from where the video leaves off. We worked on weaving in between the railroad ties (kind of like the squeeze game). Also did some approach and retreat with the bridge. She got to where she felt comfortable chewing it but wasn’t ready to step up. On a quieter day we might have worked another 10 or 15 minutes on getting Kiara to where she would cross the obstacles but she was doing SO well in spite of the sand blasting we were receiving that putting her away was the best option for both of us. I am excited about the progress made though!
Day 37 – 05/23/2013
Training Day 16
Another great session with Kiara today. She was excellent disengaging her hindquarters and front end. She was great with approach and retreat and stayed connected and followed me all around her pen. I worked with her with the lead rope and she was light and responsive and easy. Spent about 20 minutes total with her today and was very impressed especially given her time off. Really looking forward to this long weekend with her.
Day 33 – 05/19/2013
Training Day 15
Kiara had yesterday off. Disengaging the hindquarters is one of the first things all of my mustangs learn and something I reinforce daily. With these wild horses I want to make sure I can get their kicking end away from me as fast and easily as possible so I try to get hindquarter disengagement at the point where it is second nature for the horse to disengage as soon as I ask. Kiara’s just starting to get the hang of it. The video attached is Kiara’s review session for the day start to finish. At first I am asking her to disengage her hind quarters. When she doesn’t respond with the behavior I want I ask her to leave. Today I wasn’t focused on turns to the inside vs. turns to the outside. Normally I am very adamant about turning toward the inside but you need to pick your battles and I don’t want to be a nag and constantly criticize her. I keep asking for the hindquarter yield and she keeps getting the wrong answer. At one point she does yield one way but then fails to yield the other. Normally I won’t approach them until they have yielded both ways but Kiara seemed to be getting confused and worried because she kept being told she was wrong. She’s gotten good at being approached and pet on both sides so I gave her a chance to be right and stand there while I pet her. That seemed to get her focus redirected because pretty soon thereafter she started giving her hindquarter yields when I asked for them. I quit her on a good note. I would have been happier if this review session took 2 minutes instead of 5. The lesson started off with the two of us seemingly speaking two different languages but by the end we were communicating and that’s what is important.
Day 31 – 05/17/2013
Training Day 14
I had suspected yesterday was a turning point in Kiara’s training. Yesterday was a great session where I actually felt her relaxing while with me instead of running off. She was feeling content to just be with me. Today I watered her pen as normal and was surprised when she trotted off a few steps and just came right up to me. I was able to pet both the left and right side without any issue and without her leaving. Decided to just work on the familiar to maintain her confidence. I started with the spray bottle and brush combing through her mane. That was no problem. Every time I would “retreat” she would follow me. It was super cute so I decided to get video. My cameraman wasn’t available so I shot the following video myself. She’s such a cutie! I was able to finish getting her mane braided. Great evening for her tonight!
Day 30 – 05/16/2013
Training Day 13
Really nice relaxing session with Kiara today. It took her a few minutes to settle down when I first started with her. Once she settled we worked on disengaging her hindquarters in both directions, approach and retreat. We spent the good part of 45 minutes with lots of approach and retreat, petting, rubbing and massaging her left and right sides all the way from her poll to the point of her hip and the forearm on both sides. She did very well. She still starts off very apprehensive on her right side and even though we ended with her still being wary on that side she didn’t “leave” me at all for the last 30 minutes. I also cut the lead rope off of her. She’s not great at leading at all but she doesn’t need a drag line either. The knot on the line was tightened down so much I needed to grab my hay knife to cut it loose. She was so very patient as I carefully sawed away at the lead rope right underneath her chin. She never raised her head or tried to leave. I was really close to taking her halter off. Kiara has a naturally low head carriage and in the course of our rubbing and petting tonight was really letting me move the halter around, reach up and touch her on both sides of the neck simultaneously but I didn’t try putting my arm over her crest so decided to leave the halter for a few more days at least. We ended with some more disengaging of the hind end and a couple times she even decided it was OK to follow me as I backed away from her. All in all a great session!
Day 27 – 05/13/2013
Training Day 12
Worked with Kiara for quite a bit tonight. Our lesson started with review of previous training sessions. She did extremely well with the review for having had 5 days off. She took to the spray bottle very easily as well as allowing me to approach her on the right side today without much issue at all. I was able to start working on her mane. She doesn’t have any really bad tangles so the actual brushing out of her mane will wait until I either have detangler or have been able to wash her hair. After spending at least 45 minutes petting her and working with her hair I worked desensitizing her to my ring rope. She’s got a lead rope on but it is too short to use to actually teach her to lead. If she pulls I need her to not be able to get away from me. My 22′ ring rope came in super handy. I looped it around her neck and used that to start teaching her to give to pressure. If she chose to leave, which she did quite a few times, I continued to hold steady pressure until she gave. Although the ring rope does tighten down some on her when she pulls it releases super easy once she gives to pressure. That helped make the reward easy to find and we made a lot of progress leading lightly to pressure on the left side. Great training session for Kiara tonight.
Day 22 – 05/08/2013
Training Day 11
Repeat of yesterdays session. She did really well at accepting touch.
Day 21 – 05/07/2013
Training Day 10
Worked with Kiara on desensitization to touch. I was able to consistently approach her left shoulder and rub her from just behind her poll all the way to her point of shoulder, shoulder, top of mane. Spent 30 or so minutes just rubbing on her and approach and retreat. Also worked on turns to the inside and rubbing her all over on both sides with the carrot stick.
Day 16 – 05/02/2013
Training Day 9
More work with Kiara on desensitization to touch. We also worked with her today on desensitization to the height stick. Measured on uneven ground in her pen but fairly square she stands 14.3. So once we get her halter broke that may change an inch or so but she’s definately bigger than 14.1 I thought she was! She is a good girl and her training session went well in spite of the two days she had off.
Day 13 – 04/29/2013
Training Day 8
Review session with Kiara. I was able to approach and pet her MUCH more easily. In the video you’ll see me pet her the first time with her parallel to the fence. This is not my preferred position because it limits her escape route and puts me in a dangerous position. Lined up with the fence like that she can either blow forward and potentially kick me if she gets scared. She could also turn away from the fence and knock into me. Of course I have to use my knowledge of this horse and horses in general to read her body language and walk away before she makes the decision to leave. She’s really got the hang of facing up and the second time I rub on her I get her in a safer position. My camera battery died but we ended the training session on a very good note.
Day 12 – 04/28/2013
Training Day 7
Big advance with Kiara today as she accepted touch from the carrot stick on the left and right sides of her neck. She also accepted touch from me on the left side of her neck and stood quietly while I was able to pet her. She also practiced her turns to the inside. She still feels the need to move her feet quite a bit but that’s ok if that is what she feels she needs to do!
Day 10 – 04/26/2013
Training Day 6
Kiara and I continued to work on desensitization to touch. I also used approach and retreat to continue to work on proximity. She’s skeptical but she’s getting there!
Day 9 – 04/25/2013
Training Day 5
Today was a bit of a difficult session for Kiara. She had a really difficult time with turns to the inside. We worked on it until she was 100% again. Then I worked with her again with the pole. She wasn’t sure about that but we worked through it and got her to a better point with it than we were on day 4. By the end of today’s session with Kiara I could consistently approach with the pole to within 2 feet of her left shoulder and rub her with the pole while she stood relaxed. She figured out that me being next to her wasn’t the end of the world…which is a good thing!
Day 7 – 04/23/2013
Training Day 4
Good session with Kiara today. Worked with her this morning on desensitizing her to touch with the pole. She responded well. We’ll have video uploaded soon.
Day 5 – 04/21/2013
Training Day 3
Kiara’s third day of training. She is getting VERY good at turning to the inside when asked at liberty. Also had her first rinse off. At first she didn’t like the water on her hind legs but when it didn’t go away and didn’t hurt her she got over it!
Day 4 – 04/20/2013
Training Day 2
Today I worked with Kiara on turning toward the inside and gaining her trust to get closer. Also worked with sending her both directions and getting turns to the inside. We had to fight a couple of times about going to the right. By the end of the day Kiara was going left and right, turning to the inside both ways.
Day 1 – 04/17/2013
Training Day 1
The video below shows the entirety of Kiara’s first training session. I just wanted to evaluate where she is now so I can set a plan for her progression towards a gentled, adoptable mustang. My goals for her today were just to get both eyes looking at me and have her turn to the inside when she does turn. I started using hand signals with her. Not because she understands them now, but because with consistency she will learn to understand them.