Monday, July 2, 2012

I Spy Mischief

The horses didn't need their fly masks for the first three days they were at their new home, because there was not much manure attracting the flies.  But today I did see them rubbing their eyes to get the flies off, so I attached their freshly washed face masks to their heads.  (Cut-N-Jump's custom fly masks made it through the delicate cycle in the washing machine just fine, and then I hung them to dry.)

I kept an eye on the horses throughout the day hoping to catch them in the act of removing their own or each other's fly masks, so that I could train them to stop doing that.  When they were at the boarding stable, I'd visit them in the evenings only to find Bombay and Gabbrielle's masks on the ground.  Now that they are home, I should be able to catch them in the act and let them know that I disapprove of that behavior.

They behaved themselves all day, and then I got busy balancing the checkbook, which takes a tremendous amount of concentration, and I have to wear reading glasses, which prevent me from seeing off in the distance.  By the time I was done, Gabbrielle's fly mask was on the ground.  I totally missed the event I had been waiting all day to see.

She was a stinker about letting me put it back on, so I had to retrain her to lower her head when I put pressure on the poll, and then keep her head down while I affixed the fly mask.  I then went back inside and spied on the horses through the bedroom shutters.

Sure enough, Gabbrielle approached Bombay and started grooming him to encourage him to groom her right back, only she had something else in mind beside a little nibbling on her neck.  She walked into one stall and began rubbing the side of her fly mask against the railing.  Bombay went into the stall next door and stuck his nose through the railing, grabbed the Velcro strap with his teeth, and began pulling.

I threw open the bedroom door and yelled, "QUIT!  That's a no-no!"

Both horses threw their heads up, and scurried out of the barn to try to figure out where my voice came from.  They trotted along the fence looking up at the patio, but they couldn't see me, so they returned to the barn.

About half an hour later, I looked away from the window for a few minutes, and then heard an explosion of metal and turned to see the horses scattering from the barn and Gabbrielle trotting over to the railing with the clasp to her fly mask hanging open.  Argh!  Missed it again!

I ran outside and attached the mask again before she could get it off, told both her and Bombay that was a no-no, and then stood by the barn just having a stare down with them.  Bombay wiggled his lips toward Gabbrielle's Velcro strap and I barked at him.  He stopped.

I realized that all three horses had been rubbing their masks on the railing, because now the nice clean mesh had rust colored stripes on it.  I think the horses appreciate the masks during the day, but as soon as the sun starts heading down, they are anxious to remove them.  So, I'll start a routine of removing their masks while they are eating their dinner, and hopefully, they will learn that they don't need to try to remove their masks themselves, because I will do it for them at the same time every day. 


Crystal said...

That is my biggest worry with flymasks is they will get them off in the pasture and i will have to search forever for them. Will be watching to see how training them to them works for you to see if its worth it for me.

RiverBend Farm said...

Now how cool is that to be able to look out your bedroom window and watch your horses?! I used to be able to watch mine clearly out the kitchen and dining area but since we closed in the back porch, I'm extremely limited.
I've never had masks on my horses..I figure they would destroy them. Been considering it though...the gnats here are awful!
Thanks for an entertaining post! I'm so glad your horses are home with you.

fernvalley01 said...

Sneaky rascals!

Katharine Swan said...

You know, I've heard that fly masks should be taken off at night, if possible, because they make it harder for the horse to see in the dark. Your horses are very smart to figure that out for themselves. ;o)

appydoesdressage said...

My fly mask has a double velcro closure, it has the scratchy part on the mask and then extends in a flap off of the mask. The softer part on the mask and the flap goes over top of it, making it a big ol sandwich. Maybe having the mask adjusted to do that will help them from taking it off since just pulling the strap won't let the mask come off?

strivingforsavvy said...

My horses used to do that too. How frustrating. I get the ones with the extra piece of Velcro that goes over the first two. They would have to undo two pieces to get it off. So far so good.. This may be what Appydoesdressage is talking about too. I believe they are made by Farnham

lilyrose said...

The fly mask game gets played at my house on a regular basis. Usually my mini donk is the culprit. He loves ripping off the horse's masks and running around shaking them in their faces. We go through quite a few each year due to their games. I do take their fly masks off each evening though...or what's left of them anyway. ;)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

My intention was to take the fly masks off each evening, but the horses beat me to it. I didn't have much control of what went on at the boarding facility. After Gabbrielle gave the barn owner a black eye by head butting her while she put on the fly mask in the morning, she said she wasn't going to mess with their fly masks anymore, and I couldn't get out there every night and every morning to do it myself. So, we're starting a new routine here.

Paint Girl said...

My horses have never figured out how to remove their fly masks. I think only one time I found a fly mask on the ground. But they are really good about it and leave them alone.
Hopefully yours will quit taking them off. I am sure that is really frustrating!

achieve1dream said...

I bet once you get them into their new routine they will stop removing the fly masks. Did you bring any toys with you? A Jolly ball or something might give them something to play with instead of the masks. I've heard people suggesting putting pebbles in a milk jug and hanging it from a fence too. They like to make it rattle. As much as Bombay is like Chrome I bet he would love toys. Chrome does. Well.... until he drowned his Jolly ball in the pond. That made me sad. :(

P.S. If any of my comments have typos I apologize. It's getting late and I'm not proofreading, but I so bad want to get caught up to see what's been going on. :)