Friday, December 4, 2009

Leading Kachina through the pasture

It is getting closer and closer to the time when we will release the wild ones with the rest of the herd. I am getting more and more apprehensive the closer that time comes! When you've been around horses long enough, you really start to get good at predicting all the possible horrible things that could go wrong on that first introduction to the herd. I see kicking, chasing (not so worried about that), but I'm also worried that they'll get chased through a fence and get hurt or loose!

And to make it worse, I haven't been working with them much, but I did spend and afternoon with Kachina over Thanksgiving break. We did basics (leading in her little pen, desensitizing (with a fleece blanket, wow was that a bit of a rodeo), and brushing and picking up feet. After she was thoroughly wore out with the blanket activities, I had my sig. other come and work her with me. She needs to get used to more strangers and just being comfortable with people. She did very well. He just led her around and petted her on her face and neck. Our ultimate goal was with the two of us, to take her outside her pen and lead her around the entire fenceline. This was to be only her second time outside of her pen since she arrived with us back in May. The first time was during a time when I was working with her quite a bit toward the end of summer. And we never left the sight of her pen.

I just wasn't quite sure what to expect from her, but I thought she might get anxious being out of sight of her pen and other horses. So, to ensure that I could still control her if that happened, we used two leadropes. I was the primary leader, but Todd walked alongside me holding onto the second leadrope just in case we needed it. I REALLY didn't want to take the chance that she might pull away from me.

So, first I removed the 3 tame ones from the pasture and tied them to the hitching post. Then we readied Kachina, opened her pen up (leaving the opening so that if she did get loose, she might have a safe place to retreat to), and then we got started leading her out. She hesitated just a bit with coming through her gate after us, but then she stepped up right behind me, and we began our walk around the fenceline. She was VERY GOOD! For the most part, she was calm, but alert and only breathing slightly faster as she took in the new perspectives. She never once called out for the others, and when they called for her, she didn't hardly notice. She lead extremely well.

We did have two instances where I was glad to have the extra leading helper. The first time, I was leading her diagnally down a rather steep hill, and she thought she take the chance to get ahead of me (I think it was motivated by being lazy and not realizing she needed to slow herself down the hill), but Todd and I were able to pull her around. She did get worried and kept backing up for a bit after we got her facing us, and she might have backed into the fence if she had kept going, but she did stop and all was fine. So then we went back up the hill and came down again. This time she checked herself and was perfect.

The other time, we had gotten to the fence near the road, and Todd's dog was following us along the fenceline. Kachina was worried about him because she hasn't seen him much, and he's a big hairy looking black thing. At that same instance, a motorcycle came down the road. Todd and I got ready to hold her because I knew she was going to spook at it. She did, but settled down quickly after the motorcycle had passed.

So, she was good! For the most part, she was extremely sensible and I think she'll be fine as long as she realizes what a fence is. I see her being turned out with the others very soon. But first I want to let her touch the hotwire while Todd and I are holding onto her so that we can control what happens afterward. Then, I plan to turn her loose with Cody (lead mare) first. Once Cody puts her in her place, I'll let Catlow in with her. Once Catlow is okay with her, then Chico. I anticipate Chico as being the antagonist, but as long as the others are okay with her, he'll chill after he's sure she knows where her place is.

I want more time to work with Griffin before I turn him out with the others because I anticipate him being very difficult to catch when he's loose with them. Plus, I think that it will be a war between him and Chico at first. I might keep Chico out of the herd for a bit until they are established with the more reasonable horses first.

1 comment:

Kate said...

How wonderful that she led so well - all that work is paying off! I'm always careful as well about new introductions.