Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mud & Puddle Jumping

Last night we were greeted by a peculiarly dirty filly! She made her way across the pasture at a deliberate walk. Casi commented that the sun would probably be down by the time she got to us, which was nearly true. But it was sweet to see her on her way - she whinnied to us about halfway there, and I was a proud horse momma. Even if she wasn't in a hurry last night, I love that she comes readily, even when it means leaving the rest of the herd behind.

Anyway, when we got her up to brush her, her creamy white tail was grey and stiff. I picked it up in confusion, slowly realizing that it was stuffed with mud and silt. Our princess is usually pretty tidy, so it was strange for her to come in covered in mud. Plus, all the mud was on her hind end. Did she sit in the pond? We'll never know.

After washing the tail and giving her a good grooming, we had a brief leading lesson with the dressage whip this time. She's very calm about the whip, likely because she hasn't had any bad experiences with it (thank goodness). I worked on tapping her lightly on the hindquarters to ask her to move her rear end over, and tapping on her chest/front legs to ask her to back up. She caught on very quickly, and also gave me a good strong trot in-hand, which she is usually grudging about. We also had the opportunity to practice crossing puddles since there are a few left near the gate of the barn. She did not want to get her little feet muddy!

To get her to cross the puddle, we started with something she knew. Her immediate reaction was to fling her head up in the air and resist. So I patiently waited for her to drop her head, and then released pressure. Soon she was sniffing the puddle and standing relaxed. This is how I hope she will behave on the trail one day. I'd much rather have her do the balk-head lower-sniff than the spaz-rear-bolt when she's confronted with something scary. Once she seemed calm, I would ask her again to come forward. If the head jerked up, I held pressure until she put it back down, and then I released. Though she wasn't thrilled about it at first, she soon crossed the puddles with a minimum of fuss. It was very rewarding to see how quickly she learned when I asked her nicely and consistently, teaching her that pressure was released when she put her head down and crossed the puddle (rather than beating her with the whip until she crossed, like some idiots might).

Halo is a truly intelligent and sensitive filly. I think it would be easy to ruin her in the wrong hands. I hope now that I am an older and more conscientious horse owner than I was as a child/teenager that I will always know when to keep pushing her, and when I need to step back from things and make sure I am being reasonable in my expectations and requests. So far things are going well, and I'm also having a good time getting back in the groove. My goal is to be able to take her to some open shows next year, and show her in Halter or other in-hand classes just to give her the experience of the show environment.

It was getting dim by the time we left last night, but I did manage to snap this one good picture of Halo. She was convinced that Casi still had treats in her pockets.

1 comment:

Leah Fry said...

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