Tuesday, April 28, 2009

a tune-up

Today was sunny finally. It rained all weekend and part of yesterday too. We got at least 5 inches of rain on Sunday. It filled the pond up another couple feet! But is also washed away all the grass seed that I planted on the bank where my dad had pushed up dirt to level out the new mustang pen. Thankfully most of our land is hilly and sloped, so we don't tend to get any boggy areas when it rains a lot.

Since it was so nice, I decided to play with the horses a little today. After giving them hay, I curried them all out. Then I got out my hair lotion and applied it to their manes and tails, brushed them out really well, and gave them nice tail massages (they love that...makes their lips curl). They still have a surprising amount of winter hair left. I think Catlow has lost the most and she started out with the most! I think maybe they stop losing hair when the weather takes cold turns.

Then I picked their feet, while in the pasture. On Cody, I noticed that her heels were balanced, but one front foot had longer hoof wall on one side than the other toward the front side of her inner quarter. Once I noticed that (it was most likely overlooked when I trimmed her last), I couldn't leave it that way, so I brought her out and trimmed up all 4 hooves. My neighbor had sharpened my hoof knife today for me and it worked great! I'm happy to report that it looks like the thrush has been keeping away after the first initial treatments I did. I did put more peroxide on their hooves today just as a prevention. Cody was well behaved after I tied her so that she couldn't untie herself. I had a slipknot and the smart horse has discovered that is she pulls at the rope she's tied with, she'll eventually get the right one and untie herself. She wanted to eat grass really badly. After I tied her so that she couldn't get it loose (without a quick release), then she stood nicely for me.

I'd also seen some thing in Chico's hoof shape that I wanted to touch up too, so I brought him out next. He was terrible. He kept taking his hoof away, leaning back so far that I had to drop his hoof. Then he was even worse with his backs when usually he's pretty good. He just kept taking his foot away. I did pop him with the rasp and really reprimand him a few times but it didn't help. After I was done (should have done this first, don't know what I was thinking), I got out my long leadrope and my training stick and went up into the field to work him. I figure what he was doing was just being disrespectful. I really haven't done much ground work with him this year. He's been very well behaved, but I guess they always need a little reminder about showing you some respect when you haven't been working with them much.

First I just tossed the string at him and wrapped it around his neck, legs, body, then I slapped the ground with it (he stood nicely for all this). Then I backed him up and asked him to lunge around me and he took off in a fast trot. I let him trot several circles so that he'd calm down a little, then I asked him to whoa and he stopped and came into me. Then I backed him up to ask him to go the other direction and he dropped his head to graze, so I gave him a nice pop on the rump with the string. He really did not like that (I usually do not have to pop him, but he needed some firm handling) and took off in a canter. I just kept him going back and forth changing directions and he was quite upset with me for popping him so he did it all at a canter even though I repeatedly asked him to slow down. Then he acted like he was scared of the string, so I kept him close while I tossed it out onto his back until he wasn't afraid of it anymore. Then we continued to do some lunging. He tried to graze one other time and I popped him then too with the same result. He did start to calm down back to a trot after a while. I really like Clinton Anderson's C-pattern, where you walk and have the horse arc a half circle in front of you. When they get to your side, you ask them to yeild the hindquarters then change directions and arc to the other side...all while you walk forward. I like it because I can go somewhere and not tear up the ground in one spot, plus it really make the horse pay attention to you. I haven't done it much with Chico, so we started off and he did the first couple arcs okay, then he decided to throw a little temper tantrum when I asked him to change directions at one point (darn horse gave me rope burn, but he didn't get away). I backed him up very aggressively for quite a while after I had him facing me again. Then it was like he flipped a switch. It's amazing how it really is like suddenly they decide that you mean business and it's just better to cooperate and you are definitely tough enough that they don't want to test you anymore. We continued the C-pattern while I walked down to the end of the field and back, and all the while, Chico did the pattern with a fairly calm demeanor and no resistance. After I figure he'd had enough, I scratched him for a while, then lead him back to the trailer where I keep my training stick to put it away. He did not even attempt to graze once, and walked beside me with a wonderful expression on his face (definitely a submissive look). Then I wanted to check his feet once more time (and see if he stood better), so I did it in the grassy field and just had to wiggle the rope a few times when he thought that because I was picking up his back feet, it meant he could eat.

He even waited for me to scratch him and go get a treat for him after I turned him loose, so I think we are still "friends". I don't really like having to hammer stuff into them with the groundwork (I get bored with it after a while), but sometimes they really do need a reminder.

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