TO TREAT, OR NOT TO TREAT… THAT IS THE QUESTION. Whether tis nobler…


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 | Filed under Annie




Awlright… so I’m finally kicking into gear my New Year’s Resolutions.  As I pledged in January, I’m now actually starting to dedicate my free time to the horses – as it should be.

AS we know, time has passed since I’ve spent quality training time with my horses… and a few of them have … uhhh… forgotten what training was all about.

My fault.

So since the main culprit in the spoiled department is Annie, I have a dilemma.  She is the absolute sweetest mare, but she is also the absolute BIGGEST horse here.  And she knows it.

Now, she has always been respectful towards me (thank horsegods) but she is definitely a hand taller than she was when she came.  And I’m not any taller, I’m sure of it.

This is Annie when she first arrived. Gangly, young, skinny and just a bit taller than Gwen. She was probably 15’3.

That is Gwen outside Annie’s paddock. Gwen is 14’2. Annie’s back end was probably 15’2-3 back then.

ANNIE NOW.

Annie is now big and tall and full grown.  My head comes to her shoulder.  The last time I taped her, she was 17 hands.

So I ask… when beginning training again on someone way bigger than you…

To Treat or not to Treat.  That is the question… Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous size Or to take arms against a sea of troubles later – after creating a treat monster…?

The last time I taped her, she was 17 hands. Her mother was a full Percheron. Her father, we don’t know but we think a quarter horse.

She towers over me and Mo the Donkey. Mo is about as tall as I am.

THE COOKIE MONSTER THING.

OK, so I hate horses that are constantly sniffing pockets and not concentrating on what you are trying to communicate to them.

Cookie monsters.

I’ve always NOT trained with treats for this exact reason.  And, mostly, since all of my untrained horses were babies born here, training was easy.  Start them small.  Haltering, leading, picking up feet, standing, tying… all that stuff.

When Annie arrived, she was young and untouched.  Now, she is touched a lot, but no longer a youth…

I still have to train her.

Hmmmm.  How do I get her face into a halter when I cannot touch the top of her poll?   Well, I could use a stick…  or some type of device that I’d have to desensitize her to.

Or, I could make it easy on myself and do exactly what I don’t want to do – use a cookie.

SHE’S SMART.

I figured that Annie has always been an easy target if what we are learning involves food.  That was how I broke her ‘wild thang’ spell when she first came.  I’d sit with her while she ate.  After a while, we were buds.

My goal here is to beg my farrier to help me train her to pick up her feet and HOLD THEM THERE.  She will pick them up for me, but I cannot get the idea of ‘hold them there’ into her.  She will give me her hoof and then SLAM it down.  I cannot manhandle her hoof.  So, I need manhelp.

But even before that happens, I need Annie to dive into a real halter – easily.  (I’ve been using an Easy Halter on her.  It has no throatlatch.  It just goes over her ears and the lead rope goes through the nose and around her chin.  You just tighten it.  Very easy.)

I need her to dive into a real halter because I’m not about to jump up to reach her… so she has to learn to put her head into a halter quickly and without hesitation.

Alas, I broke my own rule and I put a cookie under the new halter that Smart Pak sent to me (photo coming later), and Annie dove right in. She put her nose right into the nose part.

We did it again.  Another cookie dive.

Next, I had her hold her nose (Whoa!) in the halter and keep it there.  – That was easy.

After that, the final move… putting the strap over her ears.  No issue.

All is good when in anticipation of a cookie.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  You see, when I approached to snap the snap, she backed up.   But, as soon as I retreated, she came up to me asking for the cookie.  I told her that the snap had to happen first.

OK.  She agreed to let me hold the cheek piece… in anticipation of her cookie reward.

We did that three times.  Head in nose part (check), strap over ears (check), snap on throatlatch (check) and remove.

Time for cookie!

This is where the top of my head hits on Annie’s shoulder.

AND I LEARNED MY LESSON – NOT.

Of course, she frisked me for cookies as soon as we were done.

I had created exactly what I didn’t want.  A Cookie Monster.  A very tall, gorgeous,cookie monster.

However, she was wearing a halter…

Let’s see what happens tomorrow when I attach the lead rope!

Annie was very proud of herself after her lesson. Here she is, with windswept bangs, fleecing my pockets.

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