When I adopted Gigondas, she was one of many horses on a feedlot in Washington state. The bottom pic is her photo from the feedlot. I adopted her from CBER, Columbia Basin Equine Rescue, in September 2006, along with Beauty. She was Merryana on the CBER website. She and Beauty did not arrive down here until January, 2007 because Beauty was sick and then Gigondas got a cold right before we were scheduled to bring both of them down to Southern California, so we had to postphone their travel plans AGAIN. Gigo's write up said she just needed to be "messed with". Uh, she needed MORE than that. She had some serious issues. NO ONE could touch her butt. We couldn't touch her "off side". If you made a sudden movement, she freaked. And, you certainly did NOT touch her ears or head! UH-HUH. No way. She didn't trust people and would ALWAYS move away from us. She obviously was abused in her former life. Our first trainer got her saddled three times, but on the fourth time, when she was scheduled to be ridden, she reared and nearly flipped over. So, we brought our horses closer to home, gave them all a year off, and regrouped. When my cousin offered to help me train them, I took up her offer. She took Beauty to her ranch for 7 months, trained her on her gaits, and then took her to her mountain ranch this summer for her final training, out on the trails. She said yesterday that Beauty is so calm, she doesn't panic or freak out on the trails and is now a wonderful trail horse! I'll be getting Beauty back in October, when Valerie and her family move back to the desert. I hope my back is healed by then and I can ride her, but, if not, Valerie said she'll come back and give her "riding tuneups" (I have apparently injured my back in a rather ungraceful dismount in early August and now I have a pinched nerve...). Anyway, back to Gigondas! We really didn't know what to do with her. She moved away from us. She stomped her feet at us. She ran me over a couple of times. She liked my husband and he could work with her a little bit, but we are BOTH BEGINNERS and we needed a professional trainer for Gigo, ESPECIALLY for her! I asked my cousin, Valerie, to help with Gigo's training. Valerie has had her own horses since she was 13, has always trained them herself, and is a professional trainer. She has 4 horses herself and trained them all and they are ALL calm and loving animals. She came over and evaluated Gigondas. No problem. She said, "She's insecure. I will train her and she'll be fine." So, she started by doing join-up with Gigo. Actually, she had to do it several times and each time it took about an hour, but Gigo finally decided that Valerie was the herd leader. (In addition to being a thoroughbred and a BIG one, Gigo is also an alpha mare!) Then, she took her to the round pen and worked her. I noticed a transformation with Gigo. She seemed to like to be around us now. Of course, she LOVED Valerie, but she was even calm with me (a novice!). I was able to go in her pen and touch her WITHOUT her moving off! GOOD GIRL! Valerie started working on "stay", "come" and "back" commands, both verbal and with hand signals, with Gigo in the round pen. She seemed to like to come and stay with Valerie and then me, when I worked her. She was gaining confidence. She didn't move away. She let out long, happy, contented sighs! I was able to brush her all over her body, and even move my hands down her legs without her stomping her feet or moving off! WOW! What a transformation! Time and patience. Consistent training. Lots of praise! I notice that my cousin ALWAYS talks to the horse. She even told Gigondas, "This is a saddle pad. I am going to put it on you." She talks to her CONSTANTLY. Her voice is very calm and soothing. I also noticed that Valerie is very relaxed around the horses. I was always tense, my shoulders were tense. Val told me to RELAX, breathe out, and clear my mind when I am with "the herd".
So, anyway, Gigondas was introduced to the saddle and saddle pad yesterday afternoon. No problem. No fear. Just calm and quiet acceptance. "Okay. I can do this", she thought. Now that she is a confident and secure horse, she was fine. "No problem", as Valerie said. That's my cousin with Gigo and the saddle pad! She didn't run off. She didn't stomp her feet. She waited patiently while Val let her sniff the saddle pad and rubbed her with it and finally put it on her. No problem! These are some pics from yesterday. Do you notice how calm Gigo is? I do. What a transformation! I am so thankful to Valerie for her calm and consistent and patient training of this mare! I was at the point where I really didn't know what to do with Gigo, but Valerie showed me and now I have a horse that I dearly love and one that now respects me and others! :-)