Monday, March 23, 2009

These Hooves Were Made for Walkin'

I spent my lunch hour cleaning stalls since I was not feeling well enough to clean stalls yesterday, and then took each horse for a walk. I forgot to take a watch outside with me, and ended up taking an hour and a half break without realizing it. Oops. Oh well, it's not like I haven't put in plenty of overtime without pay before.

Gabbrielle walked further away from home than she has in the past, but was getting too excited the more we walked, and I had to spend a lot of time stopping her and backing her up, which was no fun for my aching muscles. It's almost as if she doesn't quite understand yet that leaving the lead rope slack is more comfortable on her face than pulling all the time. I don't want to have to resort to using a stud chain on her beautiful chin or nose, but she's killing my biceps. Those guys who bench press barbells in the gym have it easier than me taking my filly for a walk.

There was a piece of paper lying in the road that I thought would provide a good spook test since it is white against brown dirt, however all three horses walked right over it without giving it a second glance. I guess it pays to have neighbors who don't secure their trash.

Lostine did great, as usual. I walked at a brisk pace to get my own exercise in without having to worry about whether my horse was going to rip my arm out of its socket. She just kept up with me and hung her head low and let out a number of large sighs to show that she found this activity to be relaxing despite all the traffic and sights and sounds.

Bombay jigged his way up and down the road, pumped up and bouncing on his tiptoes. He still led on a fairly loose lead despite his amped up performance. I walked him longer than the others to see if he would settle down, and he did. He appears to be a horse who just needs some miles on him. When Gabbrielle gets excited, she's like a little kid who wants to run ahead to play. When Bombay get excited, it's because he's waiting for a lion to jump out of the bushes to eat him.

I walked Bombay past my pickup truck and he tried to sneak behind me. I wouldn't let him do that, and forced him to walk close to the truck. In the end they all got rewarded with some grazing time.

One really cute thing that happened -- that I wish I got a picture of -- was that Bombay found a tumbleweed and picked it up in his teeth. He started swinging it in circles, and then walked over to Gabbrielle and started hitting her with it. Gabbrielle tried to kick him multiple times, but finally gave up and let Bombay rub that tumbleweed all over her body. Some of those weeds have sharp points, so it couldn't have felt good, but she didn't seem to care. It's almost as if my horses watch me training each other, and then they try to mimic me by helping desensitize each other to strange objects. Each time I looked over at Bombay, I couldn't help but burst out laughing. He's one seriously silly horse.


ranchette said...

I love the image of them desensitizing each other.

Katharine Swan said...

I love hearing about your horses' antics! That Bombay especially -- he sounds like such a ham!

Kate said...

Sounds like you had a good (if long) horse break today! The tumbleweed incident is just too funny!

I know what you mean about leading - I spend a lot of time working with the new horses at our barn as they come in on this issue - it's amazing how many horses don't know how to lead, and walk all over people, and pull, because that's what their handlers have effectively taught them to do (it isn't about "respect" as some horse people might have us believe). My objective is to be able to lead on a loose lead with the horse at or slightly behind my shoulder - and I lead my horses to turn out in pairs so the pair has to behave together as well. I try to be very clear and consistent about where the horse is supposed to be in relationship to my body, so the horse knows what to do without my having to do anything at all, except a glance at them or brief tension on the lead. Most horses get the idea pretty quickly, although excitement sometimes gets the better of them. I had to learn how to do this - I used to use chains, jerking on the lead, etc., but it turns out that stuff isn't necessary.

Leah Fry said...

Yes, a photo of that would have been cool. Bombay is so beautiful.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I like your comparison between Bombay's excitement and Gabbrielle's, too. I can really see them fitting those descriptions well.

And after seeingthe pics of Bombay playing with the feed bags I am laughing at the vision of him 'de-sensitizing' Gabbrielle to the tumbleweed.

When I took Baby Doll out for walks and she pulled me, I turned her into a tight circle to disengage her hip. A couple of those and she stayed right beside me with no more pulling.

Those weightlifters do have it easier. They don't have to hold back 800-1000 lbs. Gah!

Take it easy NM.

Trail Ridin' Mama said...

Sounds like all in all you guys had a great day!

Laura said...

Glad you were able to get some horse time in! Too cute about the tumbleweed!

Cheryl Ann said...

What a great day! Glad you got out and worked your horses!

Andrea said...

I love Bombay!! He sounds like such the character!! LOL!! I bet your horses love you taking them out for a walk. Before you go to a stud chain on Gabbrielle, have you tried using a rope halter? Those are great for getting horses to get off of pressure!! Softer than a stud chain.

Katharine Swan said...

I've been thinking about this thread and all the comments on leading. Panama is like Gabbrielle, as he gets excited and wants to rush ahead -- but at the same time he's also nervous and looks to me for security, so he tried to rush me AND lean on me all at the same time.

Anyway, what I've been thinking about is practicing with him out in the field by literally making him walk forward one step at a time, and keeping him at my side the whole time. Only when he gets the hang of taking one step at a time will we start taking more.

I'm going to try it next time I get out there, I hope. I need to do it soon before the grass gets too tempting, or I'll be fighting to pull his head up whenever I'm not fighting to slow him down! LOL!

I'll let you know how it works!

Shirley said...

There is a way to get respect on the lead line that you haven't mentioned yet. I learned this one from a man who trains a lot of stallions, and you just can't get into a muscling match with them. He leads them out, and if they try to push past him, he stops and backs up- without changing the direction he is facing; the first few times you may need a 4 ft. whip with you to tap them on the legs below the knee. He wants them to back up with him as he backs up, on a loose lead- that's the goal. There is a Parelli exercise similar to this, I believe. The idea of tapping their legs instead of tryng to muscle them into a back-up works really well because they don't see it coming and so it does not become a game or contest of wills.It works best with a rope halter, because you can bump it and they will feel it much more clearly than with a web halter. and this is something you can practice at home where your nosy neeighbours can't see you! Pretty quickly they get the idea that when you stop walking and start backing up, they better scoot back too, and it makes for much nicer leading manners because they are paying attention to YOU!

Katharine Swan said...

Now how could that be, since everything I know about them came from you? :o)