Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sacked Out!

Since December was the last chance I got to really work with the horses, and today was the first day of 2008 that we've had decent ground cover, I decided to go back to basics. I dragged out the tarp, laid it flat on the ground for the horses to inspect, and took a step back to observe. Lostine, being the alpha mare, was the first to approach the tarp. She walked on it, sniffed it, took a bite, and once she realized it wasn't food, she walked away with an annoyed expression on her face. Then Gabbrielle approached, sniffed around, took a bite, and whoa!!! That thing moved!!! I caught her on camera just as she was jumping backwards.

Disgusted with Gabbrielle's unfounded fear, Bombay marched over and picked the tarp right up off the ground with his teeth and began swinging it around.

Gabbrielle approached and asked if she could play too.

After a short period of rubbing the tarp all over her body, I laid the tarp across her back like a blanket. She took it all in stride. "Look at me in my disco dress! Ain't I pretty?" she says. Bombay thought she looked hot, and promptly undressed her.

Lostine just got plain annoyed. "How gaudy! It's not my style at all."

Despite all his showing off by swinging the tarp around with his teeth, Bombay actually was the least accepting when I approached him to lay the tarp across his back. Each time I took a step toward him, he took a step away. Eventually, I got it on him and he encouraged Gabbrielle to remove it. After all, he was kind enough to remove it from Gabbrielle's back within 30-seconds of me putting it on her.

"I'll just hang here and smoke this cigar until Gabbrielle can get her teeth around that thing and yank it off my back."

"Ahhhhhhh, freedom at last."


photogchic said...

That is so great...I love all the pictures and of course your commentary:-) I just started some work with a tarp too. Maddy is not about to wear it yet, but it is a good goal to work towards.

emma said...

Hahaha what a cute post. Your hosrse are so sweet! I bet they were talking about the tarp weeks after. It is exciting that you can see grass in your photos...I am so ready for spring! :)

Twinville said...

hahaah! Your post made me laugh. The pictures and comments were perfect!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Being the newbie, I need to ask: what's the goal with the "tarp work"? Is it a trust thing? To get them to understand that new things aren't necessarily bad?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

The way I understand it is that you want to gain the horse's trust and you want to desensitize it to foreign objects. I like using a tarp because I cover my haystack with a tarp, and when it blows in the wind, it scares the horses. If they can accept having a tarp on their backs, then the tarp on the haystack becomes less threatening. The problem with desensitizing is that you can never find enough objects to introduce them to, so there's always something that will spook them. My horses don't generalize, so even though I put a blanket and saddle on them all the time, they won't trust a new saddle or a new blanket. We have to start over slowly introducing new objects until they accept them. Ultimately, you just want to help your horse gain confidence in itself, in you and in its surroundings through exposure.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

This makes sense - thanks for the explanation! :-)