Sunday, January 31, 2010

Griffin gets a little attention

Kachina is settling in nicely. The 4 pasture horses are truly becoming a unit. I'm glad. I'd like to try to turn Griffin out with them before the snow all melts so that he can transition onto pasture in the spring with the rest of them. Because he needs so much work though, I've been making it a priority to work with him.

Poor Griffin is lonely in his pen.

Standing on top of the hill in the pasture here, this is the place where Kachina went through the fence that first day. You can see how she would have difficulty seeing it without the yellow and teal tape as she was galloping over hill looking for Griffin.

Griffin (and Kachina too when she was with him) are so neat about their poop. Neither of them would poop in the front pen where I feed them hay.

Instead, they poop in a big pile in the back pen. Silly ponies. It's kind of nice, but it means that their poo pile is a frozen mound at least a foot thick at this point in the winter.

I want Griffin to face up to me when I enter his pen. What he does now is sidle himself up against the fence and keep his head straight. He will look at me if I don't put too much pressure on him, but if I do anything that he feels makes him uncomfortable, he will straighten out, look at me with only one eye, and sometimes even move off while snorting. If I catch him and halter him, he's actually pretty good about facing up and leading, but when left to his own devices, it's still his first instinct to sort of distrust me. If I'm deliberate about approaching him, he will stand and wait for me and let me do pretty much anything to him, but he's still so unsure if I move too fast, especially if I jump up and down.

Today, I worked with him on basics. I did tons of desensitizing. He is completely fine with me throwing a rope and stick and string at him, but if I jump up and down, he'll snort and move away. So I worked with him on that, and toward the end, he wasn't flinching hardly at all when I would randomly jump. I also did some refresher work on moving his hindquarters away when I asked and moving his shoulders away when I asked. I haven't done any of this in a while so it took some coaxing. Griffin is so unafraid of objects, that he is not worried when I tap him with the stick. This does create problems getting him to move when I want him to. I try to really make sure my body language is asking him to move, but he's not tuned into that yet. I also use clucking to signal I want him to move and that helps him get it quicker.

I ended our session with putting a fleece blanket on him just for fun. He's never worn anything before (accept for my shirt last summer), and he took this very well. He was a bit snorty about it at first, but quickly got over it. He is so unspooky that when I lead him around and the wind caught the blanket making it flutter all over, he didn't worry about it at all! I do have high hopes for this horse. I think he will be a fabulous trail horse, but he needs to like me more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kachina is doing great in the pasture

I didn't take any pictures because it's been rainy, and now that it dried up, its gotten really cold (high of 15 today). The camera batteries just don't last long in those conditions so I don't even bother with a camera.

Kachina has pretty much been fully integrated into the herd. She is the bottom of the hierarchy, so she yields to everyone. They started out pretty aggressive with chasing her off and out of the space they thought was theirs. My two mares were more aggressive about it than Chico. But she is now able to cautiously approach and eat at the same hay pile (if it's large) with any of the others.

The other day, I was watching out the window. It was raining, and I think the horses were feeling sort of ticked off about the weather. On top of the hill in their pasture, Cody and Chico were running back and forth and rearing up at eachother. Suddenly I saw Kachina up on top of the hill. Then she approached Chico and when he made his mean face at her, she reared up at him. Then he reared up, and they played rearing biting horsey games for a few minutes until he had enough of her, then he bit her on the butt and moved her away.

I'm glad that she's not so afraid of the three tame ones that she won't even dare approach them. I think she's very good at reading their intention and she is also brave enough to try to see what she can ease her way into, even if they've chased her before. So, Kachina can be brave.

In fact I think that it has been great for her to be out with the others. They are so laid back. They are definitely rubbing off on her. And she also knows that I am her friend, and I don't chase her. The first few days she was out with them, she would readily approach me everytime I went in the pasture. She seemed to really want the attention. I can walk up to her anytime in the pasture and handle her and she's okay with it. I even took her halter off (mostly because it had gotten droopy in the rain and was a bit too big on her).

Another illustration of Kachina's bravery: we take slabs of hay out to them on a purple sled. Chico (even though he's brave most other times) doesn't like it and won't come near it, but Catlow will walk up to it and eat the fine pieces of hay out of the bottom of it. Kachina has never really shown much fear of it, and in fact, will FOLLOW it, as I drag it around in the pasture, distributing hay in different piles. She won't eat out it though. She's just curious about it. Funny.

I think she just fits in with the tame horses and their presence has been a great security for her, allowing her to be able to let down and let go of her "flight" nature. She is of course still flighty, but not about everyday things like she was before. She used to run to the back of the pen everytime (EVERYTIME) I threw a pile of hay in there. Now, I can flop a pile of hay down right in front of her face, and she'll immediately start eating it.

Poor Griffin is extremely jealous that the other horses can leave him and walk to the back of the pasture without him. The first day I let Kachina out, he was so mad. He ran around his pen and bucked and squealed as they walked away from him over the hill. He's calmed down now. I think he needs to be alone for a bit for now. When he was with Kachina, I could catch him, but his first response was to try to avoid me by getting her inbetween us. He can't do that now, and has to acknowledge my presence.

I worked him for the first time in a LONG time this past weekend. The first time I asked him to lunge at a walk around me, he threw a little fit and reared up, so I backed him all the way through the barn while making really scary noises. He didn't do that again and was a pretty good boy about lunging after that.

Things have gotten really complicated for me lately (I'm not quite ready to elaborate about it), but I definitely know that I have too many horses to be able to work with them all. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them. Cody, Chico, and Catlow will always have a forever home with me. But I need to think hard about what to do with Griffin and Kachina. I like the both of them, but reality about how much time I'm really able to work with them has definitely set in. And I am really worried about actually being able to find a decent home for them with the current state of our economy and horses in that economy. It doesn't look good at all. Both Griffin and Kachina would need someone who was experienced and able to put a lot of time in with them. Griffin still needs to let go of his distrust, while Kachina needs to let go of her flightiness (and she needs to grow if anyone other than a large child will ever ride her). I'm not saying that they are definitely going down the road, but I really wish I had more time to just enjoy my horses. As is, I'm always feeling guilty because someone needs more time. And I never ride anymore, partly out of the guilt that I shouldn't be spending time with my tame ones when the wild ones need so much more work. The other part of why I don't ride is I just don't have as much time, and it's pretty cold. The roads are icy and the snow is deep and crusty. All in all, I'm thinking about options and considering the future. I'd never send them back to the BLM because I know they'd probably be forgotten somewhere in a holding pen and I think both of them have more potential than that. Right now, we are able to feed them, so that is not a concern, but you never know what might happen in the future. I guess, until I have the perfect situation for them, they will be staying with us, but I just wish I could do more with them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kachina is a certified domestic horse! Well, sort of....

So, today we turned Kachina loose in the pasture! This isn't the first time we tried (the previous time failed miserably, but everyone was okay). This facebook album has pictures from one of Kachina's walks, Christmas, and then the recent 2 attempts to turn her out into the pasture.

*Update* She is letting me approach her in the pasture and I can easily catch and touch her so I took her drag rope off.

I apologize for not posting much lately, but life has been full! I completed my first semester in vet school and passed all my courses with flying colors! I also met a fanastic man this summer, and on Christmas Eve, he asked me to marry him! I said yes, of course. He is my next door neighbor, and we are so well-suited for's crazy to think that I had to move home to meet the man that would complete me. I've lived all over the US, including spending the last 5 years in Idaho, and I meet this man while I am living at home with my parents while preparing for vet school. Life is crazy and unpredictable!