sterling the 'stang

Read journal entries I wrote while taming Sterling

Sunday, Nov 6:
She wouldn’t let me near her. I ended up following her all the way to the other side of the pasture, sitting nearby, and she wasn’t interested in me. I pushed her away from the herd and she took off at a gallop (SO FAST!) away. She galloped full speed back at me and ran between me and the fence to rejoin the herd, bucking halfway back to them.

Monday, Nov 7:
I poured a little grain into the bucket, and brought out a bag of carrots and apples. I fed the other horses carrots and the apple in front of her, and she walked right up and was extremely curious but wouldn’t take a treat. I shook the bucket of grain and all the horses went crazy for me. It ended up being me, jogging across the field towards the barn, with Sterling’s head half in the bucket eating grain, and me flinging the rope over my head to shoo off the other horses. I tricked her into the small paddock by shoo’ing them off and tempting her with the grain. I rubbed her face a little and then turned her loose.

Tuesday, Nov 8:
Dad arrived and we repeated the grain-in-bucket luring into the paddock thing. We then tricked her into the stall with the grain and stood in there trying to acclimate her to it, she was terrified being in there. We fought trying to get a rope over/around her for an hour and dad finally got her face roped so we could slide the halter over (waited until she gave her head). We brushed and loved on her and I then walked her to the round pen and worked her both ways, but only for about 5 minutes. 

Wednesday, Nov 9:
BEST DAY SO FAR. Easily caught her in just a moment, she was still scared of dad but she began to come to me. It took us 30 minutes getting her in the stall. She was super stubborn but after going in and out a few times, and using the curry comb and brush on her in the barn, I took her for a walk in the big pasture next to hers. We then went to the round pen and I just let her play, no work. She was eyeing the horse in the dressage arena and was nervous/curiousa bout the tractor. She would trot in circles, then come back to the middle to where I was and stop, watching from there right beside me. The tractor drove by which startled her and she kept trotting circles, and came to the middle, I put my hand up and said whoa and she stopped immediately next to me. This continued for a bit and I moved around the round pen to see if she was purposefully ‘checking into base’ or just coming to the center, and she kept returning back to me every few seconds. I snapped the lead on her and we went for a walk around the arenas, she was super nervous and got skittish a few times. We then went back to the round pen and she wanted to trot back into it- it’s becoming a safe space for her. I took her in circles until we walked in slowly and I let her loose again to trot in circles if she wanted. After a few minutes I picked up a whip and we lunged for a bit and joined up. She kept cutting the pen in circles and coming back to center to be with me. Dropped head, licking and chewing, and small tight circles. She learned how to change directions and whoa. We led back to the barn, back in and out of the stall 2 more times, and then I let her loose again. She didn’t run off when I unclipped her. She walked towards me/the fence when we left.

Wednesday, Nov 16
Let me pick up her front two feet for the first time (was distracted by Coco being nearby).
Let me mess with/comb her tail & braid her mane with no trouble
Let me brush all 4 legs down entirely

Thursday, Nov 17
Let me pick up both front feet again, needs more work on front right foot
Gave trouble with leading

Saturday, Nov 19
Had no trouble picking up front feet, worked on letting me hold it for longer and mess with them/clean them out more.
2 horses charged at her during the walk to the round pen - they were in their paddocks but it scared her so badly we had to do it again. I took her by the paddocks again and they charged her again. She ran off both times (got away from me), but she trotted back up to me after she calmed down.
When we got to the round pen she was off her game and couldn’t focus, she was eyeing every horse nearby, and couldn’t stop looking in the direction of the horses that had charged her. Barely even did one loop around the pen. We worked on backing up and neck reining to the rope. 
Was terrified to walk back by them (trotted/pranced) by on our walk back to the field.

Thursday, Nov 3:
I visited her in the afternoon (3pm, low 70s) and walked out into the field. She wouldn’t let me near her. I saw in the grass for an hour and a half and she grazed in circles around me. She eventually let me approach her sides and pet them/wipe them down with my hand. I couldn’t get near her neck.

Friday, Nov 4:
Sterling let me approach her in the field with a brush but wouldn’t let me near her head. I had to drop the lead rope/halter in the grass so that she would. I spent a few hours brushing her and was able to rub up and down her neck.

Saturday, Nov 5:
I brushed her down on her sides in the pasture. She ran from me and would let me brush her if I approached/retreated. She pinned her ears back at me when I pet her neck. If I put my back to her, she would be curious and raise her nose to me, but wouldn’t stay there.

Week 1
Tuesday, Nov 1:
Sterling arrived late (around 9:30pm) and came off the truck extremely hot. I walked her in circles and she was really jumpy and was scared to be near me, we walked 3’ apart. She saw a horse and rider in the arena and stared for 5 min not moving. I walked her towards the barn and it took about 5 min to get her to take the first step in, she lowered her head and sniffed the concrete, and was scared walking down the aisle (she reminded me of the new girl in school walking the hallway). I led her to the stall on the end and it took a few minutes to get her into the stall (she saw the hay). She was extremely jumpy, but i was able to brush her shoulders and back. I couldn’t get near her face, she drank an entire bucket of water.

Wednesday, Nov 2:
I came out at 8AM to bring her out of the stall. It took about 2 minutes to put the lead rope onto her halter, and led her out of the barn. Her nerves had her walking in circles around me, I let her graze around the round pen and released her into it for about 15 minutes. I worked her both directions (she was very hot) and was able to clip the lead on her again and rubbed her face. She relaxed in my hands and leaned against me (loves face scratches). We released her into the pasture and it took about 10 minutes of aggression until she settled into the herd and grazed. Sunny day.

January 30th:
I ran 3.4 miles in the middle of the round pen chasing Sterling around. She was extremely combative with me and didn’t want to move her feet, acting coy and turning her back to me. I had to fight with her to get her to move out and had to keep her going until she finally submitted going both directions. 
No problems handling her back feet (2nd day in a row).

February 2nd:
5th day in a row with no issues handling her feet. At this point she comes to me in the field, lets me halter her and lead her back to the barn, groom her and clean out all 4 feet.
Was fine in the round pen today going both directions, then she got stubborn and didn’t want to move. I think she’s bored and doesn’t want to repeat exercises so I’m going to change it up by exercising her in the field when the lunge line comes. 

February 9th:
Sammie & I stick & balled around her, and passed the ball back and forth between her legs and underneath her neck. She didn’t care how fast the ball was going, or if it hit her, but she was a little angry when sammie reached underneath her to get the ball with the mallet. Work on her personal space.
Stood quietly while being groomed and cleaning out all four feet, didn’t try to pull away. She seems to do fine when it’s just us, and pulls her back feet away a bit when there’s an audience.
She went after Russian from 30 feet away because I had a treat and bit him.

March 5th:
Put on polo wraps for the first time, tried to strike me with her front right foot, was perfect for the last 3.

March 6th:
Put front polo wraps on the second time, was a perfect angel. Walked around with no problems. 
Saddled/cinched her for the first time, lauren & I led her to the round pen. Got her to move out at a trot in both directions, I gave too many cues at the same time though and applied too much pressure, she reared 3 times. She settled in and was fine with the saddle/girth, but girth needs to get tighter. She refused to canter (my fault for asking too much of her). 

April 14th:
Farrier came and introduced her to the rasp and rasped all fours instead of trimmed. She bit him once
Matt (vet) came and fully vetted her. Gave her a booster with everything for the year and nasal strangles vaccine. Performed Coggins test and said Sterling is READY TO RIDE!!! WOOO!!! Can’t wait till I return from my Europe trip to get started.

May 13th:
Took Lauren out to see Sterling with me today. We groomed and fed her and tacked her up with no problems, and after pulling the stirrups down we walked her down to the river and set her loose. She seems like her freedom to graze and roam wherever she wants, and since she can't go far it feels like a good idea to let her wander and get he different variety of green. She came back when I called, and after we headed back up the hill we stepped into the arena to put a little weight on the saddle. When we led her in, Lauren helped hold her still while I draped my leg over the saddle and laid my weight on her. Sterling kept yawning.. it was almost as if she was bored and just wanted us to move to the next step or leave her alone.

"Should I just get on?" I asked Lauren. "Do it." She said, so I went and grabbed a helmet. Sterling continued to be slightly anxious but accepting, so as I continued to put weight on her, I could tell she'd moved past it. I continued on to get her used to my leg swinging over her, which made her nervous. We worked on this for 30 min, and then I took the lead rope and put 1 foot on the stirrup. I stepped up and balances my weight in the middle of her back, and she began taking steps forward. When she finally settled, I gave her a moment then in a brief, calm shift, I swung my leg over and sat on her for the first time.

"Good girl.. whoa." I said, repeating myself.. probably moreso for me than for her. After 10 seconds sitting in the saddle, I hopped down. I repeated the process again, and sat on her for 15 seconds, and she backed up a tiny bit. I hopped off and gave her a hundred hugs and we finished on a great note!