Spring on the farm means mud, dirty houses, shedding animals, cloudy days and did I mention mud? Lots of mud! My dogs and horses are shedding dirt bombs. My garage is full of mud tracked in by human and animal feet. Things are beginning to wake up- trees are budding, hormones are raging – I have mares- not speaking for myself!! 🙂 And there is mud. The soft squishy ground makes for less turnout for horses which equate to an overabundance of energy in our beloved equines.
What is also waking up is my desire to ride. So I wrote in an earlier blog how I was easing my spring overwhelm by doing some things with my horses to get them back in the groove of things. Anyone with horses knows they get the spring heebie-jeebies. Today is warm with a pretty brisk wind so the horses’ heebie-jeebies were in high gear! I had them in the barn due to the soft squishy ground.
Mud, Mud, Everywhere!
I went out to do my chores and wanted to continue on with the process I describe in Conquering Spring Overwhelm I . I described how I incorporated common ground handling exercises with my day to day handling of the horses and that has helped;
1. reinforce good ground manners 2.keep their attention on me 3. remind them they are still domesticated after the winter break.
Yes, horses are a lot like kids. They have a break and then act like they have forgotten everything they ever knew when they go back to school. I am a proponent of year-round school for my equines but confess I slack off in the winter.
I am not as thrilled with snow as my dogs are.
Step by Baby Step
I had Willow out first after I fed and while I loaded their hay feeder under the barn overhang. The wind was blowing hard and making all kinds of noises. I have a cover-all barn and they are especially noisy. Willow is my newest horse and she is very much a people horse but is low in the herd pecking order and very shy with the other horses. She is a bit of a scaredy cat and is still adjusted to me, her new herd mates and new surroundings. She is a pretty sensitive horse. I went about my chores with her on a long lead and just had her follow me while I worked around the barn.
All the turns and (purposeful) movements were good for her to relax into.
She has a puppy dog type personality and would like nothing better than to crawl into my lap and be my puppy dog! Too bad she is a horse and not a lap dog. So we carry on.
I took that pic and then decided the barn aisleway need to be swept so swept while she followed along. The waving and movement of the broom and handle provided a good desensitizing exercise.
(Please use your own judgment in how you incorporate my examples here. This is not meant to be a guide to what you do with your horse but rather just sharing what I am doing.)
I had to drag in the hose that was draining outside so Willow followed along as that was brought in.
We did some more maneuvering, turns and pivots by the barn then went to get the mail with a walk down the lane.
You can see by her mane how windy it is today! We stood out here for a few minutes as an occasional car would drive by.
Made sure to work both sides.
We ended with standing calmly at a distance and a bit of grooming. She is so very sweet. I really like her. I like working with sensitive horses. Prefer that over pushy. 🙂
Now it is Porsche’s turn.
Porsche’s challenge right now is to give me both eyes. You can see from the photos above of Willow, she has no problem doing that. But Porsche, who is by nature calmer and less reactive, also likes to evade giving me both eyes. She is more familiar with the surroundings but didn’t like the gusty wind or the neighbor’s animals on the other side of the pine trees on the lane. She wanted to put her attention on that rather than pay attention to me. I basically did the same with her as I did with Willow but with a little different focus.
Now I have both eyes on me.
and a roll….
and a frolic!
More horse and spring time blog posts….
As Always~~ Happy Trails!
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