Thursday, March 5, 2009

Navigating a Maze of Ice and Puddles

Since our big snowstorm, the snow has been melting into rather large puddles, more like ponds, and freezing into ice rinks. The picture above is from last month when the ground was dry, so don't think it has anything to do with this post beyond being another picture of Gabbrielle. Anyway, I've been really impressed with Gabbrielle's intelligent handling of these changing ground conditions. Usually, she's rushing ahead on the lead rope and tugging my arm, but she seems to understand that the ground is not safe right now, and she is letting me lead the way.

We have to squeeze through a tiny strip of dry land when walking through the gate. If she walks beside me at the same time I walk through, she'll slip on ice. So, she hangs back, lets me walk through first, waits for me to give her the go ahead, and then she tiptoes her way through. All the way up the RV lane, we have to navigate through more miniature ice rinks, and Gabbrielle goes in whatever direction I lead her through or point her toward.

What impresses me is how she follows my instructions without showing fear or rushing things. She carefully examines the ground and places her hooves strategically, keeping up with my pace without balking. I started thinking how cool it would be if we could take our horses for walks "off leash" and just have them walk calmly along with us the way some well-trained dogs do.

So, last night I decided to walk Gabbrielle back to the barn through the maze of ice and puddles without a lead rope. There was a huge, deep puddle right in front of her pen. I pointed out a small strip of land that only had shallow water, and she walked through it. What really surprised me, though, was that she walked right up onto the concrete patio and started to head through the open sliding glass door right into the house!

I freaked out, knowing there was an empty spa with a flimsy cover just on the other side of that sliding glass door. Sometimes the dogs jump on that spa cover and fall in, and then I have to rescue them. A horse falling into the spa would be a disaster. I jumped in front of Gabbrielle and blocked her from getting into the house. Most horses would be terrified of entering into such close quarters filled with strange objects, so I never considered that she would attempt such a maneuver.

I turned her around and walked beside her, pointing out the shallowest, driest path for her to take back to the barn, and she calmly took it. I started wondering what would drive her to be interested in going in my house. I supposed she just thinks of it as another stall that I come out of and disappear into several times a day. She was probably wondering if my stall is any better than her stall, and possibly thinking there might be a flake of hay in there.

Have you ever taken your horse into your house or has your horse ever tried to get in your house?


Farm Girl said...

Love the stories of your filly! She is such a 'thinker', and I like that in a horse. But it is hard to keep this kind of horse entertained. My young mare is like that also, and she is on a dry lot, which she finds so boring.

A loooong time ago, when I was 17 (I'm 55 now) I raised a Tennessee Walker colt. Since he was too young to ride, I took him on long walks and he would go anywhere I asked him to. When he was 9 or 10 months old, I took him into the house. A family member had been eating watermelon, and he helped himself, right off of the plate. Somewhere, there is a photo of that event! Thanks for bringing back that memory!

Laura said...

Ice and large puddles like you have are no fun at all. Glad to hear that Gabrielle is being so good for you. You have a lot of trust built up with them, from all of the work you do!

I can't believe she almost went into the house!!! I guess it would be just like a stall for her. Glad you caught her in time!!

Shirley said...

We had a mare that my husband used for parades, and he was invited into a soda shop - so he rode her up the steps and into the shop. We took a picture, maybe I'll post it someday.

Molly said...

Back in the '70's we lived on a couple of acres with my horse and my daughter's pony. When I let them in the yard to graze down the grass my mare would check around the porch and stick her head through the window to see where I was.
I have a gross, old cookie sheet from those days that I used to feed scraps to the dogs on that porch. The mare walked across it and bent it beyond repair. I have thrown it away at least 3 times, but always retrieve it before it is gone. I guess I'm afraid I'll lose that memory of my mare.

Jenn said...

Ahhh..she is seeing you as the boss mare, leader of the herd! Fabulous!

Yes, I have had a horse in my house. And I got in BIG trouble for it too. My mother was NOT pleased at all when I took my pony, Blaze, into our living room just to see if she would go. She went in, without hesitation, then didn't want to leave. My mom was LIVID!!!! Calypso has tried to come through into our walk-out basement on occasion, she knows that's where all the feed is stored and I'm sure she was hoping to sample the buffet!

Sydney said...

Indigo follows "off leash" until she sees grass and then all bets are off wile she takes a snack break. Piggy horse.

When I was a kid I was riding my horse around. I got it into my head that it would be fun to try and ride into the house. I got up the back steps and turned the knob on the door before my mom came screaming through the house at me. I promptly took off.

OnceUponAnEquine said...

Oh my goodness! I'm imagining the muddy hoof prints in your house if she'd gotten through the door. She sounds like a smart girl though; maybe she would have wiped her hooves first.

Haven't taken a horse into the house, but took Marley up to the patio door and tapped on the glass while keeping myself out of sight. Freaked my stepson out who thought Marley was knocking on the door by himself.

lytha said...

The better question is,

Is it possible to house-train a horse?

cuz then Gabi and Baasha will be having TV nights with their people.

Both are barefoot, right, so it wouldn't hurt the floors (as much).

I can't wait to try this!

Your snow is lovely. It's that sticky wet snow that clings to every tree branch so artistically. No, I don't want it, more!

~lytha in 4 degree C blessed RAIN

Andrea said...

What a silly girl!! I can't believe she was just going to waltz right in there. Maybe she felt the warmth!! LOL!!

I haven't had a horse in my house, but I have had our goat in our house!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

lol! I always enjoy reading about and seeing photos of your horses. Gabbrielle is such a beauty and so clever and smart, too.

Baby Doll enjoyed riding up to our house and standing by the sliding glass door and peering in. I don't doubt that she'd take a few steps in if I invited her. My fear is that she'd break all the ceramic tiles on the floor or cause serious damage if she got spooked.

Bah! On that snow. We sure do need some moisture, but gosh, just look at all those ponds at your place. I'm not too sure I want those, though. hehe


Promise said...

Promise has tried to climb into my car, but she's never been on my property so hasn't had the opportunity to climb into my bed.

On the other hand, when we did have horses in the backyard, we had a colt who would squeeze himself under the fence and come up to the kitchen or living room windows until someone noticed him. He never left the property, just wanted to visit.

Katharine Swan said...

Gabbrielle sure sounds smart! She even knows where it's warm and dry! :o)

Panama often follows me right up to the gate when I leave, and watches me get into the car as if wishing he could go home with me. He was scared of going inside his stall the first time he ever saw it, but now I bet he'd be curious enough to try going inside a house!

Speaking of horses going inside the house, you guys might be interested in this video!