Although I wasn’t at the barn the day Greg brought Pep home, I have been involved with his “upbringing” from the start. Greg has always been very patient with all the horses, especially when they first come home. We know the story of how they are found but usually not much before that so it’s important to go slow and learn about them. Where can you touch them, how to touch them, what scares them…. Pep, being a younger horse, was a bit different than the older ones. Mostly because he had more energy and, well, pep! He was like a scared teenager with something to prove.
Every time Greg went by him he always had a soft hand and soft gentle words to gain Pep’s trust. One thing that stands out in my mind was the first time Greg tried to put a raincoat on Pep. Pep was scared to death! He danced and stomped all over his stall and Greg just kept talking to him and slowly following him around the stall with the coat in his hand till Pep finally relented and let him put the coat on him.
As scared of some things that he was, Pep was always very curious, too. On nice days, Greg would sometimes ride his bike out to the pastures to let everyone in while I waited at the barn for them. At first Pep would run away and as he got braver he would creep to the fence to watch and then one day he was running along the fence line with Greg! Everything, just to even brush him, had to be slow and methodical and repeated over and over again.
We finally decided to pay a trainer to help because we felt we just didn’t have the skill or knowledge to do Pep justice. We always believed that he was a very smart horse and had beautiful natural composition and would make somebody a fantastic horse. But he needed to be worked with every day! Greg and I both went to watch the progression with the trainer as often as we could, and when we couldn’t, they sent videos or would text Greg what new thing Pep had accomplished that day. We were so happy to see how well he was doing and shocked at how fast he learned.
Finally, the day came and they told us we could ride him, I don’t think either one of us thought that would happen. I really can’t remember if Greg ever got on Pep, but I won’t ever forget when I did. It was scary, yes, even though I knew the trainer had been riding him. After all, I was a new person. Greg was there cheering me on! I was able to ride Pep a few more times, although he did try to buck me off really hard one day! But I’m happy to say I stayed on him.
I have a picture of me riding Pep, and it’s one of my favorites!!! I will always remember that day.
When I can I love to work him out in the round pen. We always start out with the ground work and he always does well. I saddle him up, going slow and to let him see and smell and taste everything before it touches him. Then I take him for a walk on the trail in the woods or around the property as a reward for being a good boy.