Two weeks ago, I told you all about the training barn that is 3 minutes away – and they are allowing me to bring over horses to use their space to work horses!
So, BG and Finn have both been over a few times to understand the lay of the land – and get familiar with riding again!
Finn thought the place was beyond exciting. He was almost out of his skin, he was so amped.
BG, on the other hand, is very relaxed, so we started working on saddling. BG has a thing about being saddled. I think it stems from an ill fitting saddle when she was in training?… I don’t know. But, it always takes her a while to not fuss when applying a saddle.
AND THEN BOTH WRIGLEY AND BG got sick – with different ailments!
I had Wrigley by himself in the paddock so I could groom him, and I noticed that he was having difficulty urinating. So I looked under and HOLY CRAP his sheath was quadruple its normal size!
Upon inspection, I decided it was swollen from a bite or a bite/kick that fly, because he had a little swelling in front of his sheath as well. It didn’t seem red and angry, it was puffy.
Arh! I gave him Bute and an equine anti-histamine. After a day, it had subsided some. After three days it was gone.
So…. I put him back in with BG, and the next morning, she was so lame, I thought she had broken her hip. She had a huge lump on her sacrum. I was pretty terrified. She couldn’t turn or walk down hill. BUT, she was bearing weight on all legs. And, she was willing to eat.
I tried to calm down… and think. Since it was Sunday and my vet was not available; I gave her Bute to ease the pain – and I decided to see what would happen.
Surprisingly, she was better (not good, but showed improvement) within an hour. So, I gave her more at dinner – and she was a little better. Same thing on Monday. Slowly, she improved. Today, I gave her no medicine and she came running to me from her shelter, so I think she is OK.
Phew. Double Phew.
I think Wrigley wanted to challenge BG’s authority (which he does to both she and Finn regularly) and somehow she must have stepped wrong or fell or something, and slammed her hip.
I feel very lucky that both Wrig and BG are now doing much better.
WORKING WITH MISSY MISS
Since BG was off, I took Finn over to the neighbor’s to train/ride. Well, Finn is excitable to begin with… but my neighbor has workers over there replacing the roof on her house (throwing off the old roof, wrenching stuff, talking, waving things) – AND it was windy.
Well, Finn was CRAZY and walking on his tippy toes and somewhat dangerous – as were all the horses there… so I put him back in the trailer and came home.
I didn’t want to stop the training momentum so I grabbed Missy Miss. She and I have done little training, but I heard that she ‘wore a saddle’ once or twice before we met. So, I decided to see what we could do together.
Missy Miss is sweet, smart and stubborn. She has a double whorl for you whorl readers (if any of you know that science, please tell me what hers mean!). For example, she learns very quickly but she also wants to decide when/what we are going to learn.
She fights me about picking up her feet. Like most independent horses, feet are issues. She wants control. She and I work on feet a lot. And, unless there is a reward, she will only do the right front (no physical reasons for this – just her thing). Sigh.
So, we worked on feet. Today, she picked up both fronts (finally) without pawing or slamming. An improvement, but it took time…
Then I brought her over to the trailer. I knew she had been trailered here… and I knew she had been trailered to a trainer at one point. So, I figured she knew a little about loading.
Well, shocked upon shocked, I walked into the trailer and she followed me right in! I hadn’t opened the escape door so as we stood in there, I pondered if she knew how to back out. I didn’t want to get trampled or have her hit her head – after making such good progress getting in. So I decided to slowly turn around and walk her out.
Success! We went in and out of the trailer on the first try!
We then went back in with only front feet… so she could step out of it by backing.
After that triumph, we just walked up and back between the house and the horses. I wanted her to match my steps/direction/tempo. And she did!
Now it was saddle pad time.
We took it slowly.
She sniffed it. She bit into my spongy, thick black one. She also backed away from it. So, I brought out the easy, little white dressage pad.
That one was totally fine. I let her sniff it and then rubbed it on her neck. No issues. So, I gently pushed it onto her back.
Hmm. She thought about it… and decided she was fine with this thing on her back.
So, I gave her a cookie.
A good day was had by all!
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I use treats (usually complete feed wafers) to train horses. They go through a stage at the beginning when they don’t really know what the treat is for and getting a treat is all they can think about. However, after a week or two it dawns on them that the treat is a reward for a specific behavior, so they start to think more about what is required to get the treat instead of just begging for more treats all the time. I do cut back on treats when a behavior has been established. The only time this method failed me was with a Haflinger pony that I’ve had for several years. I still occasionally give him a treat reward, but I’ve taught him the “down” command, so I drop his treat on the ground rather than feeding it to him from my hand (which in his case, encouraged grabbing and nipping). I never feed treats because a horse is begging, looks cute, or to show my affection. They are strictly rewards for very specific behaviors.