Sunday, April 12, 2009

Flirting with Llamas & The Ghostly Gate

Bombay has been seriously bored, trying to bounce jolly balls off his sister's butt, so I decided he was my priority for riding today. First, we rode inside the round pen, then outside the round pen, and then my neighbor invited me over to ride at her place despite it being Easter Sunday. I'm always glad to take her up on such offers since there is so much more room to ride on her property.

At one end of her back paddock there was this aluminum gate that kept opening and closing each time we would pass by it despite there being no wind. I guess the mere movement of Bombay's hooves on the ground was enough to swing it back and forth, but it was quite eerie. It made a creepy creaking sound and sometimes even screamed. I was more fascinated than anything, and Bombay totally ignored it.

Then Bombay balked when he spotted a white llama with a black tail that had left its pasture to come part way up the hill to greet him. The llama was flicking its ears here and there, trying to communicate with my horse, who just stared back. I said, "Come on, Bombay. She's flirting with you. Flick your ears or something. Don't be such a dead fish."

The llama laid down in some sand and rolled back and forth. Bombay kept an eye and ear in her direction at all times, but also kept working. In two corners of the arena were loose plastic bags, which he handled well. On one end of the arena was a barking dog, which he ignored. We also encountered my neighbor's loose dog in the street, and he ignored that. He did really well paying attention to his surroundings without freaking out over them.

I even tied him to the fence and left him alone with what was now two llamas who wanted to flirt with him while I talked to my neighbor about Lostine's latest granddaughter. Bombay called out to me, begging me to come back, but eventually settled down. When it was time to leave, I had a choice of walking him through two sprinklers or around his nemesis -- the scary upside-down lawn chairs. I wasn't in the mood to get wet, so I opted for the lawn chairs.

It was tight, because we had to squeeze between a tree and the chairs, and I didn't want him walking behind me because I knew he'd try running over me. I turned him toward the chairs, got myself between the tree and chairs first, and then called him over. He definitely walked faster, but didn't run. He spotted another neighbor in her back yard and alerted on her, but didn't balk. When I got him closer to her house, he jumped backwards. I looked to see that he had spotted another neighbor crouched down tying his shoes. We said hello, and Bombay got over it quickly. That was his only outright spook of the day, and it was a small one. I think all this desensitization is working.


Paint Girl said...

I like how they play with the jolly balls! My Paint gets very bored so we buy her those treat balls and I have already said I am getting a jolly ball for her this summer. I think she would love to play with it.
Sounds like a good day riding, except for the ghost gate! Creepy!

Sydney said...

lol, silly spookers. Today I drove Indigo for the first time this year. She did really well despite being full of beans. In the fall we put a line of straw to stop water from washing away part of the lane. She hadn't seen them until today and was a little weirded out by them. She got all high headed and blinky at them but didn't explode like I half expected her hyper, grained up self to do.

Katharine Swan said...

Yay Bombay! :o)

manker said...

horses... they spook at the stuff you dont even think of... and sometimes the stuff you think will set em off... they dont bat an eye.

i'm hoping my desensitization work is paying off too.. thanx for your tips

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think Bombay sounds like he was so well behaved today. You must be doing something right, there were a lot of spooky things he could have balked at.

Jessie said...

You'll be able to hit the trails on Bombay in no time!

Thanks for stopping by and sending positive thoughts my way. I really appreciate it.

Flying Lily said...

Well done Bombay! That was an environment filled with interesting stuff and you had a good work session. Very inspiring.

HorseOfCourse said...

What a good boy among all those horseleg-eaters! And good training too...

Andrea said...

Bombay is such a character. He cracks me up. I think all that work you have been doing with him is defiantly working. And why are horses so alarmed when they see a llama? I wonder if they smell really weird to horses or something? All horses seem to be scared of them at first.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yay! Bombay! That just makes me so happy for you, NM!
I hope he keeps doing better and better with all those potential spooks.

I'll tell ya that even my mare who spends each night in a stall beside two llamas, less than 4 feet away, will still spook if she sees them anywhere except in the usual places.

If I take the llamas, her llamas, out for a walk and she sees us, especially if she is standing near Val's horses, Baby Doll will spook and act all snorty. It's as if she doesn't recognize them...or that maybe it's uncool to show she's friends with llamas, in front of the other horses?! lol!

I think the only way to get a horse used to llamas found on a introduce them to llamas ON THE TRAIL. Silly horses. They do such surprising things, don't they?

I'd love to see Baby Doll play with a jolly ball like Bombay does. That's so cute!
I bet she'd look at the ball like it was beneath her though. She's kind of snobby. lol!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - From what I hear, despooking at home doesn't always transfer over to the trail. Our trails are still snow-covered, so I've got at least another month or two before I can go trail riding. I still have to find a trail riding partner too. Every time I begin my efforts in that direction, life gets a hold of me and I forget what I'm doing, then several weeks or months pass, and I'm looking forward to a trail ride, but have no one to go with me. Once the horses have been out to a variety of trails, I won't worry so much about having someone with me. I might have to bribe my son to hike with me... 20 bucks per mile or something like that.