Sunday, September 30, 2012

Operation Gelding

What a busy busy week! I haven't done anything with Hola since Monday. I did blog all about that training session on Tuesday during one of my precious few hours on the computer but in one accidental click of the mouse I somehow deleted the whole thing. Then I said a very bad word.

Anyways, on Monday Hola bolted and spooked while on a lead line over one of those imaginary horse eating monsters that only horses can see or hear. Hola never spooks. I was unprepared but luckily held on to her. She blew by me and knocked my shoulder and my shoe right off my foot. The point of my whole post was to say that the Horse Gods have given me fair warning that it is time to upgrade my shoes! The little slip on leather Clarks I've been wearing (and jokingly referring to as my "safety first footwear") would have become a lesson in irony if I she had stepped on my foot just a little differently. So, I'm in the market for a proper pair of paddock boots. And Hola, she learned that no horse eating monster is as scary as me when she *insert gangsta accent* bust'ed all up in my space, 'n shit.

As for Operation Gelding... I was reading AQHA's America's Horse magazine when I noticed an article called Operation Gelding. This is a program run by the Unwanted Horse Coalition and is meant to provide the opportunity for people with stallions to come to a clinic where they can find affordable gelding services. This hombre gives that coalition two thumbs up!

A link to their site.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hola's Training Log 3

This afternoon I had an awesome day with Hola! She was such a good girl! I took her out to a new arena for the first time in months. It is also the first time that I've tried to work with her around horses (that she doesn't know). We had Ella and friends horse J. working right there in the arena with us and there were two horses sharing a fence with the arena. My goal for today was simply to have her stand quietly and in one relative spot when asked. I also wanted her to lead respectfully and to allow me to move her body around with driving pressure, touch and my "horsemanship stick" :P

Hola was awesome. She showed great confidence, was very respectful and was pretty damn calm about walking by the other horses even when they were trotting up the fence. We stayed at the arena for about an hour and a half and I probably spent three quarters of that time with her standing quietly in the shade. What I was really impressed with was, rather than getting tired and cranky and starting to make a fuss towards the end, she actually settled and became more responsive as time went on. When we got home I tied her to the wall right away and decided it was as good of a time as any to try spraying her with the hose while tied. I only did her legs and chest because that's what she's most comfortable with. She was fine with it. All in all it was another very successful day. I am so lucky to board off of a lady who is willing to take the time to halter and lead her in and out of the field/stall and who has really instilled a respect for space and boundaries. I think that has had a huge impact on her overall attitude and with how great she is to handle.

Right now Hola is going through stage where she really wants to try things on for size and see what she can get away with. So far a gentle reminder has been sufficient to get her to think twice about second guessing the rules.... Well, Yesterday Hola, for the first time since I've had her, decided to give kicking out a try (she was jacked up and loose in the field) let's just say it didn't go over so well... I don't think she will be trying that again anytime soon. Bless her heart, it was worth a shot:)

This afternoon she tried to get in to the barn (she knows she has to wait to be asked). Ella was standing there ground tied behind her... Well Hols was quickly and emphatically shushed out of the barn but on her way out her foot caught Ella's line and somehow it whipped up and smacked her in the belly! Well later in the day I was throwing the lead over her back and belly and she was much more concerned about anything touching her belly than she has been in the past. She even did a little crop/crowhop when I tightened the lead I had wrapped around her belly. By the end of the day she was back to being good about it but it really emphasized for me why it is so important to try to create positive experiences and reminded me how easily and quickly they remember a negative!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hola's Training Log 2

Yesterday I didn't get to the barn until late, right around feeding time. Brought the girls (Marm, Ella and Hola) in from the field loose. Hola was keen to be caught as she associates it with being brought in to her stall (she lives to eat and grain is her faaaavorite so going to her stall is a great thing as it means suppertime!) so I was a bit surprised when I tied her to the wall and she didn't put up any fuss. The past four days I have tied her then gone in to the barn and got a bucket with a handful of grain. (no treats by hand). I guess after just a few days she has figured out that being tied means food! Knowing how positively Hola associates anything to do with food is a serious advantage (in my mind) in that it allows me to easily create a positive experience. however, I know I have to be careful with it and make sure she doesn't start acting up when she doesn't get food. Anyways, rather than aiming for a set length of time I decided to focus on added pressure situations while tied. I had a blanket I wanted to try on her (for fit) so, after letting her give it a good smell, I put the blanket over her back, then pulled it down and around her body. She sucked up a little and looked at the blanket cockeyed (only her 2nd time have one put on) but she seemed to understand that she was tied and didn't pull at all. I then went and got out the fly spray. I have sprayed her a half dozen times and while she is good about it she still is a bit wary of the sound. Note- I filled an old bottle with water and used that to train with which allowed me to spray freely away from her and gave her a chance to get used to the sound before feeling the spray. Well last Night she kinda sucked in to herself a little when the first spray hit her but didn't seem to react at all differently for being tied. I was REALLY happy about that. I then went ahead and prepped all their evening feed (from where she was tied she could hear me but not see me... usually she likes to stand at the gate and watch.) she was maybe tied for 10 minutes total but I was just so happy with how she didn't paw or get stirred up by the sounds of supper, the blanket or the spray. It sure is nice when it all goes right!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hola's Training Journal

Isn't it Murphy's Law that just when I decided I would start blogging again I would loose my laptop! So here I am blogging on my iPhone. It took me 10 minutes to write this paragraph... perhaps this is someone's secret plan to govern my tendency to be verbose. (clearly not working thus far).

I am hoping I can use this handy little ap to kill two birds with one stone... I want to keep a log of my training sessions with Hola (that I started on paper yesterday) and to maintain some semblance of a functioning blog.

So for the past few days I've been tying Hola for ten minutes, picking up all her feet, asking her to follow the line and move her shoulders, hips and to back up by touch and by pressure.

This morning I brought her in and threw a blanket on her which she took like an old hand. I then tied her to the wall and set the timer on my phone for fifteen minutes. About 5 minutes in I noticed the flies were really bad and really bugging her (she had no spray on). Now I faced a quagmire, on one hand I didn't want to torture her or create a negative tying experience... On the other hand she is going to have to learn to deal with itches and aggravations while tied without loosing her mind. In the minute I took to stand there to think about it she started to get really pissed and pull on that rope a little. My decision was made. The flies were not THAT bad (there were maybe 5 on her) not biting and she just needed to suck. it. up.. I waited a minute and watched her. Sure enough in just a short time she settled again and stood quietly. I quickly walked over and untied her. It worked out being a great lesson that ended well. She was tied for maybe 8 minutes total. Tomorrow I will spray her well before tying. My goal for tomorrow is to have her stand quietly in hand for 5 minutes as today I stopped to talk to L. and she acted like she had ants in her pants. One of the many things we are going to work on over the Fall/Winter. In fact, the other day I sat down with a few cue-cards to write a list of specific things I want Hola to have a good start on and/or even a solid foundation on by April. Eight cue-cards later I decided to type it out. Two pages later... I think I'm overly ambitious. I will share that list next time:)

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Laptop, Murdered

A few weeks ago DB murdered my laptop. He said he "tripped" but I've never seen DB trip, ever. He said that it accidentally slipped out of his hands. I've never seen anything slip out of DB's hands, ever. He's the most ridiculously adept athlete I've ever met. He says it went sailing out of his hands and off the edge of the balcony. He didnt spare me the gory details. The shards of glass. The bits and bites all over the concrete. I think he murdered my beloved big black laptop in a fit of jealous rage. He has always resented the time I spent with Dell. I have not been unable to blog much lately as a result. Five minutes on DB's PC and I'm ready to go all 'first degree' on the slow-as-molasses-piece-of-shit. I wonder how I could construct a believable scenario wherein it appeared that the massive tower, two speakers and a flat screen monitor formed a suicide pact and threw themselves off the balcony. I could even forge a note, that is if I could get the giant f*&ker to open up Word.

(Last known picture of the late great  Dell)

In other news...

Alas, I found a farrier! I am thrilled! Because in one swell swoop I found someone to do Hola's feet (I dont want to do her feet as she needs some correction and I dont want to fart around with a growing foal) and someone to check up on how I'm doing with trimming Ella myself! I had asked her how she felt about owners learning to trim their own and if she would be willing to give me some pointers and while she said she would she didnt sound keen. I talked to her while she was doing Hola and compared notes, she is a follower of Pete Ramey and once she knew I was genuinely keen on learning she offered to look at Ella. She suggested that I could take her heels down a little further, to go ahead and carry that roll through the whole foot and to be careful about leaving my quarters too long but all in all she said that her feet look great! When she sighted her foot for "balance" she said Ella was bang on! (*happy dance*). I got a surprised sounding "good job" and encouraging "keep at it". I'm not going to lie, it was a huge relief. I dont think I took a breath the whole time she was looking. I am going to trim Ella tomorrow and will be sure to get some pics to post.

Hope you are enjoying the last of the summer! I'm off to research laptops. Oy! I need something good for photo editing. Suggestions are welcome.