Friday, June 19, 2009

Preparation of the Pack Animal

On Saturday at the 2009 Western States Horse Expo, Jo Johnson put on a fabulous demonstration called, "Desensitizing & Preparation of the Pack Animal." This first buckskin horse she worked with was experienced, so it didn't react much to the rope around its belly or the rope under its tail. I loved Jo's clothes... talk about matching horse and rider.

She brought out a less experienced bay horse to rattle her plastic bag at. Considering that I have been shaking plastic bags at my horses for several years now, and they still won't let me touch them with it, I had a hard time believing that this horse could be that inexperienced. It allowed Jo to rub the bag all over it. I'm sitting up there in the bleachers thinking, "Where's all the snorting, backing up, and bolting?"

This horse didn't mind having the rope around its middle or under its tail either. Jo told a story about being on a pack trip with a bunch of pack horses tied together. She stopped in a meadow to check her map, and all the pack animals dropped their heads to graze. When it was time to move on, she felt too much drag on the pack line and looked back to discover that one of her horses had stepped over his line while grazing, so it was running under his chest and he was being dragged along. She said that is why you have to desensitize pack animals to ropes. It would have been disastrous if that horse overreacted by bucking or rearing when having that rope pulled under his chest.

We found some other pack animals out on the walkway while wandering between clinics.

I want one. In fact, I wanted to toss my backpack into one of those coolers since I was loaded down with drinks in there. It would have been a lot easier on me leading a donkey around than lugging my backpack on my own back. Who says asses are just for sitting on?


Andrea said...

How cool!! Those pack donkeys are so cool! I loved the pictures.

Katharine Swan said...

Beer-toting donkeys: every college student's dream pet.


S. Lauren said...

That seems like a lot of fun, you take great pictures. The donkeys are beautiful! I have also tried to mess with a horse that spooked with a poncho, he has touched it but he still hates the stupid thing.

Paint Girl said...

The donkeys are so cute!
I have been desensitizing my horses to plastic bags too. And since I started my ground work with Fritzy, I have been doing a lot of desensitizing with my handy stick, which has a rope attached to the end. I fling the rope all over her back, butt, around her legs, she is doing really well with it. I do need to start that one with Brandy though!
Loved your last comment about the asses! LOL!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

lol! You're so silly, NM. I like the pink coolers against the white donkeys, though. I can't wait to get back out there and work with my llamas and their packs. I love to hike, but can't carry a heavy pack on my back anymore.

I would have liked that clinic. I like what Jo is wearing, too. And that Buttermilk Buckskin is beautiful and has a soft eye. Nice.