Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Morning Walk

I know it's probably boring reading about me taking my horse for walks, but I'm journaling my experiences in helping my horses get past their nervousness in new situations, and I kind of find it fascinating.  Each day gives me a little more insight into the psychology of a horse.  I'm also getting a good read on just how sensitive and emotional horses can be.

I took Bombay for a walk out in the desert right after he took a nap lying down in the sand. He was very relaxed -- not a single balk while walking away from the mares. Lostine did whinny a few times and he just looked back at her. We headed south on the east side since the last time we took that route, Bombay was very poorly behaved and needed more practice walking past homes with horses.

He spooked backwards while walking next to me when a wild hare hopped out in front of us, but quickly recovered. He was getting ahead of me, but I realized that as long as we both keep pulling on the rope, he will never know what it's like to be on a loose lead. So, as long as his shoulder didn't pass me up, I let him walk on a loose lead.  I figure we can work on positioning him later, after he learns that it is much more comfortable and enjoyable to be on a loose lead.

He showed signs of paying attention to me at the same time as studying his surroundings. When I got dizzy and slowed down he slowed way down too. When we had to squeeze between branches, he let me go first. When we reached a spot I had to carefully climb down, he moved off to the side to give me space in case I slipped and fell. I gave him treats more sparingly, basically whenever he did something considerate, and he wasn't grabby like the day he almost ripped the fanny pack right off my waist with his teeth.

I realized when we were about half a mile out from home that I forgot my mobile phone, so I hoped we wouldn't run into any trouble.

When Bombay started getting nervous, I was trying to figure out what the trigger was. I looked in the direction he was looking while dancing sideways and saw two cop cars in the driveway of a home, one with its lights on. He wasn't outright scared, but more like mesmerized and nervous. He wanted to turn back for home. I had him stand and watch for a bit, but then realized that I appeared to be nosy, when in reality I was just trying to desensitize my horse to emergency lights.

When he relaxed, we moved along. When we got home I could see my husband working on the well and knew that I had to get Bombay to see him or he would spook, but despite all my pointing and saying, “See Daddy?” Bombay wouldn't take his eyes off the mares. When we walked past the well, and my husband stood up, Bombay jumped pretty high and toward me, so I had to slap him on the side to prevent him from mowing me down. Other than that, it was a pleasant walk. I was even able to carry the lead rope in one hand because he did such a good job staying at my pace without pulling.

Who knows?  Maybe I'll be able to start bringing my camera along on our walks and use my hands to do something other than keep control of my horse some day soon.


Katharine Swan said...

Sounds like a great walk! When I see people on the trail and want to make sure my horse has seen them, I always call out "Hi" to them. Usually that gets Panama looking at them even if they don't say hi back, but I've discovered that when they do say hi, he is much more relaxed -- especially if they are doing something weird. Hearing them talk seems to reassure him that it's just a person!

fernvalley01 said...

Sounds like a good walk

lytha said...

mugwump has some great posts on leading. i'll try to find them for you:

and here's my favorite:

Laura said...

sounds like a good walk! I think Bombay is getting the hang of things, even if it feels slow to you. You will get there!!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lytha - Thanks. I just read them. She has an interesting POV about treats. I had just made up my mind yesterday that I wasn't going to use treats with Lostine and Gabbrielle, because Lostine will bite my hand off when she's nervous if I offer her a treat for distraction, and Gabbrielle just walks beside me with her nose poking my fanny pack the whole way. I think she doesn't even realize she's on a walk away from her buddies. In some ways the treats are more of a problem than help, plus the lead rope keeps getting hung up on the fanny pack, and as far as clicker training goes, I would need four hands -- one to hold the clicker, one to dispense treats, one to hold the lead rope, and one to dish out corrections. But my horses do totally ignore whacks from the rope, the whip, and my hand, so I'm not sure what I can correct them with that will get their attention. At least the treats DO get their attention and they settle the horse down. If I spend the entire walk beating the horse, it's not going to like taking walks. That's the thing about horse training -- for every bit on logic that makes sense the opposite bit of logic makes sense too. I've got a trainer coming on Monday, so I'll see what ideas she comes up with.

Strawberry Lane said...

Sounds like a very good walk! Giving you your space and slowing down with you sounds like a very aware Bombay. Love the photo!

achieve1dream said...

Good job Bombay!!!!