Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ground Work

Today Steen came to me as I approached again, even though he was in a lush, grassy pasture because the mud is finally drying out. We walked up to the barn and he got a little balky at the sight of the hitching post, but I coaxed him into the barn and let him loose in the indoor arena. He trotted around sniffing at things for a while and discovered he could sniff noses with one of the horses in the stalls by the other door. Then I proceeded to move him around with my hands, touch him all over, lead him around, make him stop, go, go backwards, etc. He is very odd in that he will stand perfectly quietly as long as he's not tied. I can rub him all over with my hands and pretty much anything else I can pick up and move around (today I tested him with his lead rope, a rubber ball, a traffic cone, and a different rope) without evoking so much as a startled glance. Also, if I so much as pick up a longe whip, he starts trotting around me in a circle. But, he still gets agitated when another horse and rider come into view, and intermittently decides he's freaked out by being alone and wants to run around and yell for his friends. However, when he's not distracted he learns quickly, and several times today he was standing quietly with his head down, ears drooping, etc. When I walked away from him he would almost always follow of his own accord.

So, I'll have to get to the bottom of the tying thing and somehow convince him that people are not only just as good company as other horses, but loads more fun. Really, I think for now the most important thing I can do is just hang out with him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day Off

Unfortunately, I had my other stable to tend to today, so will have to wait until tomorrow to hang out with my own horse again.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Steps

Steen came to me from across the pasture when he saw me at the gate today, and has no trouble leaving the other horses, but still gets very agitated if I tie him up for more than a few minutes (unless there is another horse tied next to him, in which case, he is fine). So I think I'm going to have to go back to square one on standing, since just tying him up and letting him wear himself out doesn't seem very humane, and I certainly don't want him to associate my visits with trauma.

When I got home, I did some reading and found some advice on teaching horses to stand while being lead as a precursor to making them stand when tied. So, next time I'm out there I'm going to take him into the indoor arena and walk and trot him around, and intermittently make him hold still for a moment or two before walking out again. He moves away from pressure and leads really well, so adding standing into something he's already got down pat might be the way to go.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Today Steen came into my life.

The last horse I owned was Blue, a quarterhorse mare we purchased when I was about 12.

Blue and I usually rode with my friend, Dale and her horse, Molly. Dale was an adult, but was kind enough to put up with me for riding partner. We'd go all over the place together, and sometimes find ourselves considering taking a trail neither of us were familiar with. She'd often say, "Where does it go?" My most typical response eventually became our mantra:

"Every trail goes somewhere."

I've found it is a good thing to keep in mind when working with horses.

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