Treat Manners

Everyone knows that hand feeding horses teaches them to bite!

This is one of my favorite subjects. How is it possible that something that can teach manners and establish healthy boundaries between person and horse could develop such a bad reputation?

The way we go about it is what makes the difference between a finger hungry treat monster and a horse who waits quietly for you to place a treat in his mouth.

Behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated. If your horse is shoving at you with his nose, searching your pockets for treats, walking on top of you in excitement, and you give him a treat, that is what he is going to think earned him the reward. He will repeat it at every opportunity.

If instead you wait until your horse is standing quietly beside you not looking for a treat, them offer him one, he will learn that not asking got him the reward. You will be well on your way to developing a horse who is well mannered and respectful in the manner with which he accepts treats.

Rusty used to bite. He used to swing that head around and try to rip my fingers off with the cookie when we first started. I may not have focused enough on treat manners from the saddle to start with 😉

Now I swear he moves his head away from me when I try to feed him. Maybe we went too far with our treat manners 🙂

Out To Pasture

Ghost, Poppy, Baa, and Violet rubbed a panel open in their pen last week. I got a phone call that some cows and a goat had run past the in laws house and went out to see what they were up to.
They were standing across the electric fence from the other cattle looking that way longingly.
Life is crazy right now. I didn’t know what was going to be going on. It was unlikely I would be able to work with Ghost any tie soon. Violet is getting some size on her.
I opened the gate and let them in to the corn stalks.
Today was the first day I had been out there since I set them free to resume a feral life. I had seen Ghost off in the distance a few times but never visited with her.
She came running to me as I stood between her and the hay we had just rolled out. I didn’t have any cookies but I could offer her lots of scratches. Once when I paused too long between scratches she hopefully offered a spin.
Of course I hurried to get back to scratching. It’s good to see her still so eager to work when she’s back out with the herd.
Poppy did not come visit and Baa only stopped long enough to see that I didn’t have any treats.

Checking Fence

I needed to ride some fence.

The cows are grazing corn stalks over the winter. Picking up any corn dropped by the combine and putting fertilizer back into the ground. We put up electric fence earlier this fall but deer and antelope can be hard on things and the fences around the next field needed checked and connected before we opened the gate.

The last few days have been warm, especially for December. Not today though. Today it’s cold and cloudy, the occasional snow flake falling from the sky.

I had to decide. Would I hop on a fourwheeler and buzz quickly around the field? Or would I take the time to saddle Rusty?

A fourwheeler would be able to go fast, the tools I might need would already be in the tool box. I could get back to where it was warm faster.

On the other hand, Rusty always needs ridden. The work and exercise would do us both good. I always want to use the horses more around the place, if I’m going to say I want to then I better get to it whe I have a chance.

I wasn’t sure myself which option would win out, until I found myself pulling my saddle out.

All bundled up and in my long underwear, it was chilly getting started. On Rusty’s back I quickly got warm though. He was not happy about this and was jigging and asking to go back. The heat coming through the saddle felt great and I enjoyed focusing on the places I could feel  it the strongest.

In the corn field he must have decided that  if we had to work we might as well work fast and was ff at a trot or sometimes a canter. Not the most effective for finding places an electric fence might be shorting but warm and fun. We’d still be able to find anywhere the deer had destroyed the fence.

After closing gates I got off on  the far side of the field to check for spark. While I checked Rusty sifted through corn husks and grazed on some corn.

There was no spark. I thought I might end up having to come back with a fourwheeler, more supplies and the ability to get to a far corner I couldn’t get a horse across the fence too. Despite that as we rode along I thought about how happy I was that I had brought Rusty instead of giving into ease and speed.

He is great working on tricks in the arena. It is good for his mind and to get him to listen to and work with me.

He needs this though. It’s so good for a horse to get out and have a job  to do. The more a horse does the more a horse can do. Which seems obvious but think about it. Brains build new pathways every time we are exposed to something different or unusual for us. If we never see or do anything different our brains use the same pathways over and over again wearing ruts that are hard to get out of. Every time he stopped to stare off into the distance watching a semi go by on the highway, no more than a moving speck to us,  or looking in the other direction at things to small for me to see, he was learning, experiencing, building those pathways in the brain.

Loping along down the fence line built muscle for him, balance and muscle for me. We worked together, each earning more trust from the other.

A job  does a horse a world of good. Of course arena work  will also do a horse with a job a world of good. One isn’t better than the other. Both is best though.

In the end we even found the place where the wire was hooked over a steel post stopping the spark. Our fence worked again!

And Rusty let me check it from his back without either of us getting shocked!

Hopefully the next time I have a chance to choose between quick and easy and getting the job done with my horse I will make this same choice again and get it done right.

Of course checking fence with Rusty is never just normal…

Roping Cows

Ghost is as much fun as the horses for sure. sometimes more fun.

We’ve been working on roping. Someone said they’d be impressed by Rusty’s roping when he was roping an actual cow.

I took that as inspiration and a goal. The first step was to teach Ghost to be roped. Turns out that’s a fun game in itself.

So we have a special roping cow….

Just in time for Christmas!

Need something for that special roper in your life who has everything, except talent?

If they can’t rope the animal get them the animal that ropes itself. A rare and unique gift to boost their ego or get the job done faster.

A self roping cow. Simply present the loop and get the job done all while letting them think they finally learned to rope.

For a limited time only, while supplies last. Don’t miss out.


(no, she is not actually for sale!)

More Colors

We’ve gotten to work a couple of times on our colors. Rusty is good but not great at choosing the right color when asked. He is getting very good at matching his colors though!

I had a blue tub and a blue ball. I had been trying to get a yellow ball and I had yellow spray paint. A yellow ball was hard to find though. My husband called from the store and said they had a red ball? I remembered a red tub sitting out in the yard and said to grab it!

We haven’t worked on red at all but the point isn’t to know the color. The point is to match pairs of the same. We could always try it and see what happened!

This is our first go with two colors. Our second or third time of trying to match the colors at all. I think he’s getting the idea!
Of course I didn’t have a camera going for most of it. I thought about grabbing one then decided that we didn’t need to record EVERY  time we worked. So Harvey came over to see what was going on and started dropping a ball in a tub too! He’s never managed that before, and we have tried. A long time ago.
Goes to show the power of observation and of giving things more time. Sometimes things just need more time.

Next time I’ll try to get video of Harvey too.


Riding A Ghost

Ghost is learning to line up to a mounting block (fence 😉 ) and has had weight on her back for the first time!
There is no rush to actually get on. The more time we can spend hanging out here at the fence, giving lots of scratches so she wants me up there, the better.
Before any actual riding happens we’re going to have to figure out things like steering and whoa.


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.