The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mama George

Today, as I was over visiting The Journal of Ravenseyrie, I was struck by a photo of Zorita and her filly, Levada. Levada is standing in the exact position beside her mother where George always likes me to stand. This prompted me to Google-image search "mare and foal," and I found many photos where the foal is standing in this same position - close in to his mother's flank, near the hip.

So George thinks of me as a kid. Fair enough. I'm always quoting Isaiah and saying that in the Kingdom, the leader is a little child. I'm not going to get anywhere being tough or scary - it's just not convincing. But I can be stubborn, and I can be calm, and apparently I can evoke maternal emotions in a rather testosteroney gelding.

Today, I took George out to graze - the plan was for 20 minutes. But then I wondered how long he would like to graze if he had the choice, and what would happen at the end of that period. After an hour, he finally had had his fill, and I discovered what he would like to do next. He made a beeline for the porch, climbed up, and went to the open door. He really, really, really wanted to go inside.

I was almost on the point of giving in, when I realized that the floor is way too slippy to be safe. Plus also, our porch is none too sturdy, and I think that's the last time I'm letting him up. I always wanted to be one of those crazy people whose horse comes in the house. (Now, if Chloe wanted to come in ......)

It shows how long it took for him to be satisfied with grazing and be ready to move on to other activities. If/when we have grass growing in the pasture again, I think coming out for work/play will be a more attractive option. I've increased his feed, and there's plenty of hay, but they'll often leave the hay unfinished and go off in search of a few morsels of something green. There's just nothing like the green stuff, and that's all they can think about when they get out of the pasture.

Chloe often runs free in the yard when I have one of the others out on a leadrope. Today when I returned her to the pasture, George was super-nice about letting her in the gate. He came to the gate; I asked him to move by touching him very gently, and he immediately got out of the way, turned, and waited with a calm expression on his face, and Chloe came in happily.

I've noticed how very responsive George is when you ask him to move his hindquarters over. His front end is another matter. In his old home, there used to be battles over this. His former owner likes to point to a silver-dollar-size scar on his shoulder, put there by a more dominant gelding. She says that's how strong the other horse had to be with him to make him move over, and it shows how strong we have to be.

But then I was thinking - why does he move his quarters so quickly and not his front end? Well, more weight is on the front. What if we encouraged the weight to move back and then asked for the forehand to move over? So I asked him to step back and then to the side. He moved over readily. I'm trying to be ultra-tactful and soft with him, to do everything from a peaceful place.

After all this time, I am still a complete beginner. George is right.


  1. I had to laugh when I saw that picture of George trying to get in! Mine would come in too if I let them.

    I think it's the dominant horses who won't move their shoulder over. They have no problem moving their hind quarters, perpaps because they still face you? Cassie will move her shoulder if I insist, but she does it with bad grace. Minnie's attitude is more "ok, where would you like me to move?" I like the way you asked George to step back and then to the side!

  2. Yes, it's a dominant thing, as well as a more physically challenging move. It's the beginning of collection, though, isn't it .. ? to be able to lighten your forehand and put more weight on the hind legs, so it's in the horse's interest to master this if he wants to be a big macho, impressive guy!

    With George, I'm trying to ask him to do this move which seems to assert my dominance but do it in such a way that he is convinced that's not what I mean. Maybe it would help if I move with him so that he keeps facing me.

  3. Very interesting. I love reading of your explorations with George. Is he being protective, looking for intimacy or what?

    I can really understand how tempted you were to let him into the house.

  4. I think he's looking for intimacy. When he had a dominant gelding pasture mate, he was very clingy, and when he had a buddy gelding, they were pretty much joined at the hip. We could let loose a large grizzly bear in the pasture, though, to find out if he's being protective!