Friday, June 17, 2011

This week's trail ride was wonderful. Here's a long view of the Palouse with a beautiful sky overhead.

Poor Rosie was in screaming heat and doing everything she could to get Tonka's attention. He wasn't real interested.

Then he realized she smelled different and started making funny faces. But he still didn't think too much about the whole boy/girl thing.Speaking of Rosie, she's got me thinking a bit. I'd always thought of a horse that was ridden in a mechanical hackamore as "not really trained." I figured they just followed another horse down the trail and the harsh hackamore was there to stop them when it was needed. Melissa bought Rosie as an experienced trail horse and I have to admit, I thought bad things when I heard she goes in a hackamore only (she never has had a bit as far as we can tell). But she really is very well trained! She listens very carefully to her rider and responds to light aids. I'm impressed, and it made me realize my prejudice was wrong. Maybe not all the time, but in this case for sure. You read so much about how mechanical hackamores are cruel and wrong, but it's what Rosie knows and you don't have to yank her around or hurt her at all. She is calm, comfortable, and sane. It's the right thing to keep her in what she knows instead of trying to retrain her and make her nervous and uncomfortable, especially at her age (I think she's 18).

I hate to admit I got on my horse twice that day without my helmet. Just pure absentmindedness. In this photo I hadn't yet realized that I left my helmet on the bank of the creek. You can see it between Tonka's ears.
Later I mounted up again with my helmet attached to the saddle, not my head. Pure stupidity, especially with the fact that this acetyl l-carnitine that I give Tonka for his EPSM makes him into more of a crack-head. He hasn't yet done anything totally stupid this year (with me on his back) but he has come close a couple times. That twitchy back, head high, super-tense-about-to-spook is sure not fun. But I have to give it to him, he has really kept it together. I think I might buy a human version of that supplement to see how it feels (and I hear it helps with weight loss in horses with IR so why not give it a try).

When we were walking down the road back to our trailers the horses clearly let us know that something was around that was very dangerous. I think the scent was coming in on the wind, and Tonka has never acted quite that terrified on the trail. Luckily we had both dismounted by that point. I knew he was about to blow and just hoped I could hold on to him. They started to calm down a tiny bit and then a car went by very slowly (courteous driver has horses too) and Tonka spooked, which I think made him feel better. It wasn't a huge blow-up, thank goodness. They were still especially tense up until we left. Tonka even thumped around in the trailer a bit, which he never does.

Yesterday we just did groundwork, but today Tonka and I had a really nice ride all around the property. It's hard to ride for a full hour without going anywhere. Even when you're working on stuff the time passes really slowly. But he got his exercise so that's good.

Yesterday I got Bella out and saddled her. She was a bit nervous about it at first, which she only shows in her eyes. She's one of those types that shuts down rather than freaks out, so I have to be careful. She did great though, and I think my lovely good saddle fits her. But what do I know about saddle fit anyway?

Grace has been really good about me or John walking up and petting and haltering her. She leads beautifully, lunges pretty well, and is just generally a good girl, if only it weren't for her pissy attitude. She glares the entire time and swishes her tail at me. I think she'd kick me if given enough provocation. The only thing I can think to do about that is to continue to be friendly and keep advancing with the training to try to keep her from getting bored. I don't want to get more aggressive because she does scare easily. But maybe I'm wrong to baby her. What are your thoughts?


Kate said...

I'd be inclined to say somethings about any pissy behavior - it's mare dominance stuff (assuming she has no pain issues like ulcers to explain it). If a horse does that to me, I usually have them move out of my space until the eye is soft and the expression pleasant, then I approach and reward them with a pet. Same thing at feeding time - pissy face, no food, nice ears and standing back, you get to eat.

Good for you for thinking about your helmet.

Lea and her Mustangs said...

Yes, I agree with Kate - don't let her get away with it but don't be too aggressive either. Sage still once in a while shows that but its better and better.

Keechy said...

Good advice here, and I just wanted to add that it is amazing how much happier they seem once you've moved their feet around firmly but gently and established yourself. I didn't used to want to do it, but my current mare shows me she is happier and calmer when I do. I use the Steve Brady set of groundwork exercises. They do a double job as they set you up really well for the aids while riding. He is Aussie but I think known over your way.