Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Equine Comeback Challenge

Bit of Honey Training LLC's Kim Leonard has been invited to participate as a trainer in the Equine Comeback Challenge!   It is organized by Equine Network, the group that publishes all the major horse magazines like Practical Horseman, Dressage Today, Western Horseman, etc.  They have partnered with A Home for Every Horse in an effort to showcase how trainable and useable horses from rescue situations can be.  There were 10 Colorado trainers invited to participate, and each of our horses will be coming from a rescue affiliated with A Home for Every Horse. 

It looks like my horse will be a super cute PMU mare and hopefully we'll have her here sometime next week.  She'll be arriving from Mountain Valley Horse Rescue in Eagle, CO, about 50 miles West of Denver on I-70.  Her somewhat late arrival puts me a little behind for time, since the other horses have already arrived at their trainers'.  I only have 60 days to work with her before presenting her at Rocky Mountain Horse Expo where I will do a ranch horse versatility trail class with her as part of the competition, and perhaps as even more of a challenge I'm hoping to ride her when I'm teaching my jumping clinic at the expo.  After the presentation and competition she will be for sale through a silent auction with a minimum bid of $750.  Not too bad for an adult horse with training!  Since she is a draft/stock horse cross I suspect she has the brain and temperament to think through her training and it shouldn't matter too much if we're a week off.  As I've said before, when training horses fast is slow and slow is fast!

This is my Comeback horse, called "MollyO" in her current location
A little history:

PMU horses are a byproduct of the Premarin industry.  This hormone drug for human use is made from pregnant mares' urine, hence the acronym "PMU".  The mares in this industry are kept pregnant and spend most of their time confined in stalls with their hindparts attached to collection devices so the hormones in their urine can be extracted and made into the drug, Premarin. 

Since the mares are kept pregnant so the desired hormones will be in their urine, their foals have been a byproduct of the industry since its inception.  Some farms decided to breed nice lines of horses so that the foals, rather than simply going to slaughter as a byproduct, could be sold as riding prospects, often for sport horse disciplines.  I have a friend in WA state who adopted a PMU filly around 2004, and she has turned out to be a fabulous draft and thoroughbred cross dressage horse.  Samson, my herd manager gelding here, was also a PMU foal. 

My Comeback Challenge mare was one of the mares used in the Premarin industry.  As Premarin became less popular for hormone treatment, these PMU farms began to go out of business.  The result was that thousands of horses became homeless.  Several rescue groups have worked endlessly in an attempt to get these horses to new homes.  This mare somehow made it to a rescue here in Colorado, and when that rescue ran out of funds she was taken in by Mountain Vally Horse Rescue, from whom I'm getting her.  She is 16 years old, short, fluffy and white with long dark eyelashes.  I haven't met her in person yet, but her photos show her to have straight legs and a solid-bodied physique.  A veterinarian in Eagle assessed her, doing a cursory lameness examination and found nothing wrong.  The vet and rescue both thought she was quite a nice mover as well!  

My first work with her will be on the ground in hand, to assess whether she has more of the draft horse brain or the stock horse brain.  I find that when drafts are crossed with other styles of horse breeds sometimes it crosses smoothly, and you end up with a very medium-tempered horse.  Other times the horse retains mostly the slow, thoughtful learning style of a cold blooded horse.  Or the horse may have more of the stock horse mindset, easily bored and needing to be constantly challenged in their education.  Interestingly, the physical build the horse inherits doesn't always correlate with the mindset they inherit.  I've trained horses that looked like giant thoroughbreds but were as slow and methodical as a full-bred Clydesdale.  I've also met horses that look like a Clyde but react quickly and are as sensitive as a typical racehorse.  My training techniques vary as much as the horse does, and the horses let me know how they learn best.  It will be fun to meet this mare and discover how she thinks!

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