This past weekend, I was going contemplating attempting to turn Griffin loose in the pasture, even though I think he probably won't let me catch him when he's loose. I was just going to do it with a drag rope, start by leading him around the pasture, and then play it by ear. I'm pretty sure I could get him recaptured easily with grain so I was only really worried about if he'd respect the fence. And I would have all the other horses tied/penned while I took him out.
Well, I didn't get around to it, because I decided that he really needed a hoof trim before I turned him loose. I haven't been keeping myself in very good shape since summer ended, because I sit at a desk all day. I try to go for walks, but it's been COLD. And I only get to do horse stuff and outside work on weekends. So, I'm pretty out of shape. So, trimming Griffin's hooves was quite the feat! I had hardly any strength to squeeze the nippers, plus he's got really hard thick toe walls! I only managed to do the first 3 hooves on Saturday because I had to be someplace and ran out of time. He was pretty good about those three hooves though. But then, Sunday rolled around and I attempted to do the last hoof. He wasn't having any of it. I'm not sure why he was so bad about that hoof. Maybe it was the fact that I went right to the back and I usually start with the fronts? Regardless, he became more and more uncomfortable with me back there, till he got to the point where I could get him to stand still, but as soon as I held his foot off the ground, he'd panic and little and take it away, then squirt away from me and circle as I tried to walk at his hip to get him to stop. Before he got really bad, I had actually nipped one edge, so he had one heel trimmed and the other not. I couldn't leave him like that! But it was beginning to look like I wasn't going to convince him to cooperate. He wasn't just being naughty either. He never pinned his ears or kicked at me or anything, he just was nervous about me back at his hind end (he always has been), and had worked himself up to where it felt better to step away from me, than to relax and let me have his foot.
So, at this point, I realized I needed to somehow turn the situation into the other way around. I wanted him relaxed when I held his foot, and uncomfortable if he circled around me. So, I got another rope and looped it around his hind leg. Then I preceeded to ask him to stand and let me pick up his foot. Everytime he got worried and took his foot back and started circling, I just stayed right with him and pulled on that rope around his foot. He really didn't like fighting to keep his balance with that rope on his foot. As soon as he stopped and relaxed, I took away all tension on the rope. We did this several times until he stopped circling at all. He still was taking his foot back, but he was rapidly getting less and less inclined to commit to completely evading me. So, the time he actually let me hold it up, pull it back and wipe on it, I just gave it back to him and called it a day. I wanted him to sit and think about how that had just ended.
I came back a half a day later to see if I could finish his hoof. I looped the rope around his hoof again, and this time, he didn't circle away from me at all! Having that rope was a good reminder for him. I was able to get him to stand relaxed and allow me to finish trimming the rest of his hoof. Trimmed and filed. He was perfect, like he used to be. I owe it all to that rope around his leg! I like little tricks that change a horse's mind.
After that, I removed all the other horses from the pasture (except Kachina, I figured she could stay in), and then took Griffin for a walk around the fenceline. Kachina followed us like a puppy dog most of the way. The rest of the time, she was tearing around and playing. Griffin was quite the gentlemen throughout the whole time. He really respects the halter and leadrope and I just have to pull a little to get his attention was Kachina was telling him that she really wanted to go run off with him.
So, I decided that when I do get to the point of letting Griffin out, I'm going to pen Kachina back up. I think that she will be a bad influence on him and get him running around a lot. I'd like his intro to the herd to be calm. After a week or two of just Griffin with the herd, I'll turn Kachina back loose with them.
I really hope adding a second gelding into the mix with a gelding and three mares doesn't create friction. Chico has already shown that he will defend his mares against strange geldings. I just hope that Griffin is not considered a strange gelding anymore.
A funny side note: Well, sorta funny. Kachina is the bottom of the pecking order, but she's not necessarily resigned to being lowly and depressed. She doesn't necessarily outright challenge the others with the expect that she'll move up, but she is NOT intimidated by them, and she'll let them know it! She still will get out of their way when they tell her to, but then there are times when she will "play" with them. She mostly plays with Chico, and that's probably because the two mares are just grouchy and interested in making Kachina mind. Chico will play back. It is a regular event to see them rearing and playing. Kachina really gets into it. She's lighter than chubby Chico, so she'll readily get up on her hind legs and paw at him.
And one day this weekend, I was walking through their pasture and the horses were standing on one of their trails through the snow watching me. Cody was closest, then Chico, then Kachina. They don't like to walk off the trails because then they sink in the snow. I called them as I started walking away, and they began to follow me. But Kachina was not happy that she had to be in the back...she wanted to get close to me and Cody and Chico were being way too slow, so she took a lesser traveled trail along the bottom of the hill to bypass the slow pokes. When she got alongside Cody (about 25 feet away), Cody flipped her nose out at her (back off! I'm the leader!), and Kachina immediately flipped her nose back at Cody (yeah? Well, you're slow and fat!)and kept walking. Cody was not about to accept that kind of disrepect, so she flipped her nose at Kachina again, then pinned her ears, and went after her. The whole herd then disappeared up over the hill. It was hilarious to see that subtle communication among them!
But, Kachina has some major bite marks and bare patches because of her insolence. The poor girl has thin skin and it abrades easily, but that doesn't stop her from fighting back. Most of her bare patches are on her upper neck, and I'm pretty sure she got those while she was fighting/playing. Because when the mares get after her, they usually end up biting her butt. Her butt only has a few marks on it.
A return to the back 40, the 2017 edition
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