Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Horse Behavior’ Category

Leading Him On

On our walks, Milton has graduated from a chain over his nose to a plain leadrope. Okay, the ears are still back, but it’s more ‘Whatever, Dude.’ and less plotting misbehavior.

Milton has also relaxed sufficiently to be on a leadrope at Stepping Stone. Although we always pack a chain leadshank, just in case.

Chain posts
[Milton 2.0]
[Milton’s Moods] Photo source, last year.
[Milton’s Remediation]
[Proper Walk Protocol] Still on a chain in late May, this year.

Does this photo shoot come with cookies?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Cookie Ball!

Nose-It! Equine Ball Flat Fill Treat Dispenser
via Amazon (not available direct)

I don’t usually buy cat/dog/horse toys. I am concerned they will become unused, decorative lumps of plastic. We bought what we call the “Cookie Ball” after watching Bliss and Jewel play with theirs at CAA [Show Report]. At one point, Bliss heard Jewel playing with the ball – the rattling treats make a distinctive sound – and got offended that someone else had HER ball.

Our guys love it. No ramp-up time. We presented the cookie ball. They each say, ‘Ah ha! Treats!’ and began to whack it around. Any horse who has ever flipped over a feed pan knows how to do this. I think humans underestimate the power of smell. Note, we have to fill it with “good” treats. They did not feel it is worth the effort for mediocre treats.

Rodney gets the cookie ball with a baker’s dozen of horse cookies as a stall toy when Milton goes to Stepping Stone. He empties all but one or two. In his defense, that last one is hard to fish out.

Comments: There is a small drainage hole on the bottom, opposite the treat hole, for cleaning. It is a clever design but I find I still have to mop out the last bit of water. Our area is bad for fire ants and mice, so I clean the ball each time and keep it in the house. YMMV.

Disclosure: no contact with company other than as a customer.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s Delayed Future as a Riding Horse

Riding Milton is on hold while he is learning to drive.

Getting used to pulling appears to be the big step in teaching a driving horse. Once we have that, we will get back to the riding question.

One can never know the counterfactuals. Doing both at the same time would probably be okay. Probably. This way, if he declines to drive, it won’t be because he was confused by conflicting demands.

We’re talking several weeks, or a few months at most. We’ve waited this long.

Sigh.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Group Ride

We have a new feature. We worked both horses in the ring at the same time: Greg, ground-driving/long-lining; me, riding. After warming up at a walk together, Rodney would park and watch Milton, then vice versa. Lather, rinse, repeat.

From a work point of view, not much happened. We milled around, did a few figures, stood.

From a mental point of view, it was a huge success. Rodney was as relaxed as he’s been outside of a dressage lesson (Rodney loves Mr. E.). He’d work quietly, then stand around yawning. For those who don’t speak horse, yawning is a release rather than a sign of boredom.

Demo from a previous session.

It’s good thing. I think Rodney liked the company.

Milton didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton & Me

Still waiting. So, a thoughty post.

All the physical parts are in place: trailer, truck, Coggins. Now we need to have all the people in town at the same time. Our most recent random gesture [Sand Colic?] seems to be working. Milton seems to be settling. I would almost … almost … be willing to try him in the enclosed ring myself. But we’ve waited this long for someone else to get on him first. Might as well stick with the plan.

I can’t envision riding Milton on a regular basis. Seriously, my imagination fails. Is he not the horse for me? Proof that one has to ultimately pick one’s own horses? Or am I so discouraged that I am unwilling to hope? Or am I grouchy bitch who enjoys wallowing in negativity? No idea.

Last weekend, Milton got away from Greg on the long lines. On his way back to the barn, Milton neatly jumped the ring tape [Spooked]. Not what you want to see in a driving horse, but encouraging for a jumping horse. (A storm blew. Greg halted so they could quit. Not fast enough. When we got to the barn, Milton was waiting for us in the aisle, giving us a look that said, ‘Didn’t you people realize it was raining?’)

Although Milton jumped 3′ with his front feet, the trailing lines took the tape down mid-body. Unknown whether his hinds would have gone clear.

What happens if Milton turns in a riding horse and a driving horse? How’s that going to work?

Despite living together for almost 30 (!) years, Greg and I don’t actually share that well. HIS dogs; MY cats. He helps me with MY riding; I help him with HIS driving. Mathilda was HIS horse; Caesar (aka Previous Horse) was MY horse.

What happens when we both have an equal claim on the same horse?

How do we settle show conflicts? Lesson conflicts? How does the level of the show/lesson factor in?

If we haul to Stepping Stone, does Milton drive or ride?

If Greg has a lesson, does he get the days beforehand to prepare? No point in wasting lesson money.

What if driving requires different shoes? Can one jump in those?

What if driving/riding training develops the horse in a way not suitable for riding/driving?

Or do I think too much? This has been mentioned in the past.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

The I-Got-This Training Theory

Last week, Rodney was proud of himself for mastering an exercise [By George]. That’s the goal for all of his work. Remember the high school science demo that used air pressure to cavitate a can, UW-M Wonders of Physics: Collapsing Can? That’s how Rodney’s mind works.

Overwhelming External Pressure

 

When the world is too much, Rodney collapses mentally. Since he’s 1400 pounds and has feet, he runs off. Inside, he’s a heap of crumpled aluminum. [Aftermath of an Explosion, walking up hill 2011; Weekend Report, trotting in-hand 2013; Walking Along, leather halter 2016; and so on and so on]

No Pressure

 

No threat. No collapse. Nothing to prevent the above from repeating. This is where he is with dressage. Good but not great.

Internal Support

 

Not just doing, but doing with volume and projection. Throwing energy outward. I want Rodney to know he can, to feel sassy. He needs to be ready when the inevitable happens: an exciting environment, or a spooky jump, or an amateur moment on the part of his rider. I want him to have sufficient internal conviction to handle external pressure. I want him to be able to say …

Life

… ‘I got this.’

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Sudden Switch

Driving Thursday

Switching in a hurry from driving to riding makes Alvin mad. The only time I have felt Alvin threaten to mutiny was at a Dixie Cup show when our riding classes immediately followed his driving class.

In numerous shows, Alvin drove first and then was ridden a few classes later. He was fine. In fact, I was of the opinion that the driving loosened him up and put him in a good mood for riding [Report]. Just don’t ask him to do it back-to-back.

The switchover can be hard on riders as well.

Between the driving class and long-lining Milton, I have been holding my reins for driving more than for riding lately. It took me half-way around the first trot to mentally switch back. MSSP 2015

At Dixie Cup this year [Report], I didn’t have to suffer the switch. Mr. Whizbang did. After the victory pass in Academy Driving (!), folks swarmed him like NASCAR pitcrew. Harness came off. Saddle & bridle went on. One lap around warm-up. In we went.

Either Mr. Whizbang was of the same opinion as Alvin, or I had gotten myself into a state thinking he might be of the same opinion as Alvin. Whoever was the originating culprit, I clearly felt a deep breath go through the two of us halfway through the class.

Like my Mama says, It’s not the ups and downs. It’s the sudden changes of direction.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott