Ghost

Ghost has been learning to tell her colors. Just like the horses do. Apparently they both see blue and yellow which is handy, since I have things in those colors.

From her first lesson with one color, to her third? lesson, adding blue in, she’s come a long ways. I can’t wait to see what else she can do.

 


Rusty Roping

This was a fun quick little video we made. Just messing around really. Simple and easy.

I put it on the facebook page and it has over a thousand shares two days later.

I can never believe the ones that go crazy and the ones I work so hard at and no one cares. I wasn’t going to do it because it was cloudy out. Then the gopro quit because the sd card was full so I switched to the phone.

We were actually working on sitting and just took a quick break.


Tricks

Why bother teaching a bunch of ‘silly tricks’?

Isn’t it more important to teach the important thing? Shouldn’t our horses know how to lead, to ride, things that matter before or instead of pointless things like tricks?

I think that is completely the wrong way of looking at things.

Tricks are the foundation of all those other things. Tricks teach a horse to learn. Tricks teach a horse to be fearless, curious, to seek out new things. Trick training teaches all those other things almost by accident. The serious learning is accomplished in a way that is fun for all involved as goals are reached that we think are frivolous.

This little trick has taught both horse and rider to over come insecurities, to work together, balance and trust. Soon it will be flawless and smooth. Together they will learn to be a team. Steering is nothing compared to that.


Standing Quietly

A little bit of nothingness.
Nothing is important. We all should be spending more time doing exactly nothing.
Most of the time we spend with horses we are asking them to do something for us or with us or doing things to them.
When we ask them to do nothing it is different. Doing nothing is hard.
Rusty likes to follow me. He wants to keep playing. He likes to be in the middle of the action. Standing and doing nothing is not what comes naturally to him.
I had to run to the house for new toys for us to do something with. He stood patiently, waiting, and doing nothing so well.

A New Wagon

Rusty has progressed to pulling the kids wagon. It works alright. Sufficiently noisy to get him used to almost anything back there. Heavy enough that he can learn to pull a bit of weight.

It was a gift when our daughter was born more than eight years ago though. Beautiful at first it has aged with hard use. And that one time I ran it over with the car. Oops.

Besides, it would be nice to have something I could eventually ride in. I’m considerably bigger than the wagon.

So I mentioned to my husband that I would like a little cart if he knew of anything around that might work. We farm so nothing ever get thrown away. People seem to think that the current generation has invented recycling. They have never looked at the fence rows on farms. Nothing is thrown out, anything that might possibly be reused is carefully saved and used for parts, repairs, new and interesting inventions.

There was one axle and wheels he thought might be good. And they would have been, If I had a team and or heavier harness.

With nothing showing up immediately he decided instead to repair the wagon so it would drive better. The puncture vine around here is nasty stuff and had long since destroyed the inflatable wheels. We were running on flats and one completely blown apart tire.

My husband took the wagon to the shop, pulled off the old wheels and gathered some old wheels off a planter to replace them with. Much wider, heavier, and not going to go flat.

I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but the kids have taken it and are having a blast ‘driving’ each other around pulling it.

I can’t wait to hitch it up and fully appreciate my awesome husband who does his best to make sure I have everything I could ever need or want and goes about it without my even asking.


A Little Backwards

We seem to have a new preferred riding style around here right now.

Not sure why. It’s apparently more fun  this way. For the Goblin Child. 8 always wants to do anything she does.

It had rained a little and the horses had a good roll so they were filthy. They both reached everything they could from the ground and were sick of getting the dirt blowing in there faces. So they wanted on to reach the top parts.

Then they turned back around and we went for a nice little ride.  In the howling wind. What great horses not to kill anyone through all this.

 


Driving Horse

We got snow a couple of weeks ago. Lots of snow. Enough snow that I decided it was time to get the harness out and work on driving again.
Apparently this is a winter time activity. There was not a drop of desire to drive all summer. Snow and I can’t stand not to be driving.
We have a routine as I try to help Rusty figure out what I’m asking. We walk down to the end of the driveway where Rusty gets rewarded for making it that far by sharing the feed for the cattle if there’s snow or grazing if there’s grass. Then back.
At first I lead him large parts of the way out. Going home he knows where we’re going and happily leads the way. Now he understands what I mean when I ask him to walk up and is getting pretty good at the whole thing.
Because I don’t have anything to pull with my pseudo driving horse we’ve hitched up to the kids well worn wagon and are driving that around. For the first time today we had a passenger.
He sat back their happily eating Halloween candy while ordering me to stop and go as he desired. Maybe before too long I’ll be able to sit in the wagon and drive…

Wrong Horse

Apparently I’ve been figuring  this horse thing wrong. I’ve been trying to find horses for everyone. Lady is a perfect match for a delicate little girl. The delicate little girl has been wanting to ride my big sturdy  gelding though. He brother usually ends up with delicate high strung Harvey who he’s very happy with but will not be able to ride for many many years on his own.

So we put the tiny girl on the big horse. The sturdy boy on the delicate mare.

Not saying it will stay this way, I’m done trying to assign horse to child. They can switch and share and play musical horses.

He is over energetic though and fears nothing, zipping along on  speedy little Lady is right up his alley. Hesitant and more timid my bigger, fast walking but slower moving gelding calms and reassures her. He brings out her bravery and I trust him not to be bothered by what that bravery brings on. Watching him scramble on and off of a  mare just his size is as fun as the scrambling must be. She waits patiently while he takes a break from riding to run across the hay bales.

Hopefully the weather holds and we can do this again soon.


Spooktober

It is spooktober and horses are known for spooking.

They can train us to live in fear of provoking their fear. They train people not to try to ride if it’s windy. They train us to need to be warned if someone is passing by the indoor arena door. They train us to fear plastic bags, loud vehicles, flapping things. We begin to hunt them out and stay away. To hurry a horse the other direction if we suspect a trigger may be coming.

Is it the horses that are afraid or the humans?

Are we teaching our horses to be afraid of these things?

If we run away, or quit and turn for home as soon as we ‘think’ they will be scared then we are never giving them the chance to see for themselves. Horses can get used to the most amazing things. Without the use of over stimulating, without crossing over threshold, without them inducing learned helplessness.

We can not reinforce fear by rewarding it, with treats, scratches, or love.

We can by running away and hiding from it, but not by offering  support and understanding.

What if instead when faced with a daunting obstacle we stopped, took a deep breath, and found something else to occupy our minds. We can work on something familiar and comforting, we can offer scratches.

If the spook has already happened we can reassure them with a treat. If you are mounted, make sure you are back in a secure position than laugh, pat their neck, and click them for still being there with you. Because we work so much at liberty I can let my horses leave. Wait for them to come back, they usually come running from the few feet away they went, I give a click and reward for them daring to return and we continue on with lots of reassurance that I will protect them and reward them for their bravery.

Instead of spooking from things in expectation we can help prevent or calm the spook by displaying the behavior we want from our horses. By showing bravery and offering support we can help our horses to over come fear. By allowing them to have the experiences we can let them get use to them. We can end up with horses who accept the challenges we offer and who will brave the biggest of semis with us.


Halloween Horrors

It’s almost Halloween 🎃
There are so many scary stories involving horse training, I thought it would be fun to share some of them. Like horsey Halloween ghost stories.
👻 Welcome to Halloween Horrors! 👻
 
Horse trainers are particular group. Only a select few allowed to join. Those who are chosen must pass through trials and tribulations to come out on the other side changed forever with a secret knowledge that no others can posses and a coveted membership in the horse trainers coven.
The rest of us must stand in awe of them. Always on the outside looking in. We must beg for what little wisdom they will bestow upon us and rely on them to make our horses do what they say, and hopefully a little of what we say.
If only there was a way to posses their great abilities.
There is rumor of a way.
A potion that can be given to a horse to allow us to communicate. Given every time we work with a horse it allows us to speak their language and communicate our wishes. The more of the potion we offer the more communication the horse will offer.
This potion is a deep dark secret though. If you are found out the coven will pounce, angry at this breach of their power.
If the secret is held carefully you will posses the power to train and work with your horse yourself.
In order to find the potion you must set out on a journey to find a lonely +R practitioner and ask for the recipe. She will share happily, grateful for the company and the interest in her solus art.
Then you too can delve into magic.
 
Disclaimer.
Yes, it is important to work with a trainer. Trainers are not evil, not most of them. No they are not necessary for every bit of horse training. Knowledge is though. More knowledge and skill should always be sought when working with horses.