Sunday, December 26, 2010

Game 1, Game 2 ...

Dove's progress
It only took a couple of minutes to get Dove haltered today. Out of curiosity, I tried just walking up to her. That wasn't welcome, so I started sending her around. Ha ha! That wasn't welcome either. I could hardly get her to trot. She was doing stuff like going along the fence and stopping at her water bucket and looking at me like "Can't go any further. This is in my way." At that point I did throw the line at her and get her to trot a couple of laps. Halter on! I think we could be looking at a serious LBI (Lazy and Bone Idle). Interesting, since her pedigree is full of winning race horses. We'll see.

Friendly game continued. I introduced the Carrot Stick. That was no problem. I doubt that she's ever seen a whip, so it was just a "thing" to her. Rubbed her all over. A few slightly iffy spots, but nothing dramatic. Got all four feet picked up. Good, as the trimmer's coming in a couple of days. Moved on to the Porcupine Game. Surprise, surprise - the rear end was light and the front end was heavy. I decided to see if I could make the right thing a little easier, by backing her up first, to lighten her front end, and then staying in rhythm while asking the front feet to move across. I learned this technique from Adrian Heinen, and have used it on more advanced horses, but never tried it on a horse just learning this. I think it did make it easier for her to move, although I'll still need to isolate it later. My idea was that if I make it easier for her to comply at this stage, she might have a more positive feeling about it. 

I fed her a bunch of treats and petted and scratched her and let her go. I can see her taking in these new experiences with amazement and starting to relax a little. It's nice to watch. I'm wondering  whether we might get as far as backing her a little if the weather holds for awhile. I know that if we don't do it soon, we will probably have a long wait while she is heavily pregnant and then looking after a foal. Something tells me not to go too slow with this horse, but we'll see!

Track adjustments
The other horses are now using a grazing cell which is close to the house, loafing shed and water, so in order to keep them moving I've been putting a bit of hay out on the track during the day. They don't really need it, but they do need motivation to move. I've mainly been hanging the nets on a convenient row of electric poles that run along the west side, however they are too far apart, and Hunter is not getting to eat any hay. The Fells go from pole to pole sharing a net while Hunter stands and politely watches them dine. He's just too dependent on them to go all the way to the next pole and eat by himself. It's not a great situation since of the three horses, Hunter is the only one who isn't fat. So today Mark and I collected a bunch of tires from the east side of the track (which we've had to close for awhile due to fencing issues) and tomorrow I'll place them near the poles, ready to have hay nets tied to them. I'll let you know how that works out. 


  1. might be that Dove, when stopping at bucket or fence, is actually 'taking space' from you and saying 'this is mine' and if she stays there she's tabbed a point of leadership. When any of my herd do this I don't think it's as far as they can go, I take it that they're making the rules of the game and I have to take back the game by asking for the space under their feet, it's mine, all mine BUT if they play the game right I'll share it all with them. To keep them moving I 'think' about the space in front of them as available but to the left/right/back is no longer available...this keeps the game a mental one and is less physical or 'dominant'.

    How many horses to hay nets Kris? Hunter sounds like a horse who's too passive (lower in the pecking order) to 'take' hay....with our Tara being low too we have 5 horses but put out 7 piles of hay or she'd be pushed off every single one by Holly or Stomy (the leader and dominant 1st). With two extra piles she can keep 2 steps in front of them and eat what she needs, the others keeping her fit and they all know she doesn't need too much. If piles go she will continue picking scraps off the floor when the others are resting/sleeping at about 11am ;-)

    Your herd is very interesting and must be fasciinating to watch them all interact! ;-))

  2. Just seen your temperature on the right side've got it mild compared to our -19 at night and -16 during the day...hope ours gets milder soon too ;-)