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

Sunday, September 15, 2013


After our ride with Rose and George yesterday, I took Bridget out. I tied her up to the fence, took the burdocks out of her mane,  plonked the Cashel saddle on her back, cinched it up, and took her for a walk. On our return, I lead her over to the kitchen steps to practice mounting the way I did the other day with Rose and George.

It went pretty well, although I didn't get to the putting-foot-in-stirrup stage. After a few times, she resisted when I tried to lead her back into position by the kitchen steps. Normally when Bridget resists, she gets bossy and foot-stampy. This time, though, she just became a little pathetic. She pressed her head gently into my chest and then rested her chin on my shoulder. If that wasn't a "pleeeeease", I don't know what is. So I let her quit.

Today, we repeated the exercise. On our walk she was exceptionally polite and didn't push ahead or shove me over or anything. And when some neighbors in a car stopped to chat for a minute, she didn't go (like she usually does), "This is sooooo boooooring. Let's gooooo."

Back home, we tried the mounting thing again. This time I got as far as putting my foot in the stirrup. However, the Cashel saddle slips too much on Bridget, as she is completely barrel-shaped. (No offense.) Like yesterday, she finally got fed up with returning to the kitchen steps, but she resisted being lead back to the pasture. So I had a few tries mounting from the ground. Bridget stood very quietly on a loose rein, but the saddle kept slipping, so I called it a day.

Then I let everyone out on the lawn til suppertime.

A Pleasant Jaunt

On Friday evening, my husband surprised me by saying, "Let's go riding this weekend." He never says that.  So, hooray!

On Saturday, we saddled up Rose and George and off we went, me on George, my husband on Rose, and our daughter tagging along on foot to make sure my husband was safe, him not being a confident or experienced rider and all.

George lead the way, very keen. Rose came along behind, a little anxious. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, warm - but fall definitely in the air. When we came to a crossroads, George picked the farm lane, and off we went towards the creek at the bottom of the hill. George startled when he saw the light reflecting off the creek. "What is that?!"

While George was pondering this strange sight, Rose seemed like she was getting a bit stressed out at being so far from home, so we decided to head back. I took my turn monitoring Rose on foot, and my daughter mounted up on George. I walked beside Rose on the homeward road, and she relaxed, lengthened, and strode out, taking over the lead from George.

When we reached the end of our drive, she did what she has done before - she declined to go home and instead wanted to continue on the ride. We happily agreed with her suggestion and continued on a  circuit of the fields. At one point, George looked like he might take the lead again, and Rose said, "Not likely!" and pushed ahead in front of him.  She does like to shake off that subservient position and be her own woman sometimes.

My husband proclaimed the Cashel Soft Saddle "hands down the most comfortable saddle" he has ever sat on. I wasn't sure that his stirrups were long enough (or even), but he was quite happy - so that's a success, as he is quite picky about how he feels up there, and who could blame him, as he's not used to it.

After the ride, I asked my husband to let Rose graze on the lawn with him for a while to Encourage Bonding, plus Rose really likes that.

Everyone had a nice time.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two More Donkeys

Two miniature donkeys - mother and daughter - recently adopted by a nice young couple.

I am told that the previous owners warned that the donkeys may have had "bad experiences" with the farrier. Uh oh.

We go into the pasture, and the donkeys gather round us, curious and friendly. After introductions have been made, and a suitable interval has elapsed, I figure we might start work - I ask the owners if they plan to use leadropes or halters or anything. They reply that they thought we might give it a try without.

So we do. And the dear little donkeys let me at least nip the toes off all eight feet, with no snatching or kicking or running away. And in between trimming, they do some of the cute and adorable things that donkeys are apt to do such as resting their head on your shoulder, which is pretty irresistible I must say.

Although I only roughed out the feet, the owners were happy, as they thought the donkeys might not cooperate at all. Hopefully next time we'll get even more done.

So what's different about these donkeys, who allegedly have had "bad experiences" and yet were so cooperative? I wonder if the new owners, who are so kind and courteous to the donkeys, have made such a good impression on their adoptees that the donkeys have decided that humans, at this new place, can be trusted. Perhaps having them at liberty helped also.

Tomorrow I go to see another donkey, who also has had "bad experiences" (including having her ears pinched as punishment). She has a kind owner, and she has never kicked with me after the first time. However, she nearly always just says NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo. And her feet are getting longer and longer. We are thinking of resorting to the Animal Communicator.

We'll see.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Donkeys Rule

The Donkey stallion has been in his current home for a month and in his previous home for a month. Before that he had been at a place where they assured the next owner (who found him on Craig's List) that he "stood" for the farrier.

Um, question ..... how can a donkey who is not even halter-trained "stand" for the farrier? I think probably he was tied up tight and sat upon. That, in my opinion, does not count as "standing."

Anyway, he did not, in fact, do anything which could remotely be described as "standing." When the owner first got his halter and rope on, he did a fair amount of kicking, and then when tied to the fence, he kept pulling back as hard as he could.

We plied him with treats and he settled down a little, but there was no way I was going to be able to get  near his feet. Which were very long.

Finally, I untied his rope from the fence and took him for walkies in the paddock. Good thing I was holding tight, because he launched himself against the rope in an attempt to get away. I braced myself and held on, and so he had to at least stick around.

Obviously I couldn't lead him anywhere, so I tried walking in circles. Like, I'd gesture to the left, and say, "Let's go this way," and walk to the left, and perforce he'd have to turn after me.

He started to get a little focused on me. And then he had a bright idea. He could get me to walk in circles. He found that if he walked in a circle, I would follow him. Then he'd change it up a little and turn to face me. "Very good, human! You're turning to face me too!" Then he'd circle again.

Finally, after he thought I'd got the hang of it, he decided to lead me back to the shed. He walked at a nice, easy pace and kept turning to look at me to make sure I was following him.

And then fate intervened, and the knot which attached the rope to the clip at his halter came unravelled.

He was in a good mood by this time and climbed onto a dirt mound, looking cheerful, and came over to say hello to us, before wandering off with his goat friends.

I told the owner it was totally not worth pushing the matter. He could just pay me for my gas, and call it quits for the day. Donkey has probably had some extremely unpleasant experiences with farriers, and although his feet are long, they're chipping and curling out of the way, and he's walking fine. Fighting now will make everything harder later.

I told the owner to work with Donkey in the meantime - don't try to "train" him, but let himself be trained by Donkey, who is obviously smarter than us. Just make one "rule" - that Donkey can't leave - you're having a conversation and are attached together via halter and rope, and those are the parameters of the situation. I talked about the differences between horses and donkeys, explained about respecting the no, and said that if he listened, Donkey would communicate with him. He's a  nice owner, and he has a wife whom Donkey likes, plus a 5-year old boy - and Donkey loves kids.

I also asked the owner if he read the Bible (everyone round here does) - cos there are only two animals in the Bible who talk - the Snake, who gives bad advice, and the Donkey who gives excellent advice. So listen to the Donkey.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Talking Horse

It seems I never learn.

The horse I was working on earlier this evening has always been sensitive. He is a thoroughbred, inclined to be compliant, but gets nervous easily (which he shows by developing instant diarrhea if pressured too much) and is sometimes restless and resistant.

He always has a good reason. But with monotonous regularity, I come to the conclusion that this time his fussiness is just him being stubborn. I am always wrong.

Today, he kept on and on talking to us about something. He leaned over and nosed his foreleg repeatedly. When I didn't get the message, he moved to the other foreleg. I knew he was talking to us, but did not figure out that - omg duh - he was talking to us about ..... his legs!!!!!

After completing work on his LF, it became virtually impossible to work on any of his other legs. I noticed he kept stretching his LF out in front of him. So we walked him around, and sure enough he was limping. (Note to self: forgoodnesssake, remember to always see them walk first.) Didn't seem to be the foot, as he was squarely weighting both heel and toe. So, we figured somewhere in the leg was sore. The owner got some liniment, and as she was rubbing it on, he gave a strong ouchy reaction whenever she rubbed the inside of his left knee.

Mea culpa. I should listen better.

Of course, as soon as we said, "Poor darling, we'll stop work for today," he kicked up his little heels and galloped off to join the other horses, but, well, I guess even injured horses have to keep up with the herd to avoid the carnivores and such. Sometimes I wish they thought that untrimmed feet were the equivalent of a hungry puma.

Very different is his pasture mate. A strong, dominant, stoic buckskin mare. She has a sore LH stifle, and if you insist on holding up her foreleg too long, she'll rear (politely) to get away. But if you give her every consideration, and listen to all her requests, she will go out of her way to cooperate and make it possible for you to work on all her feet. It probably is uncomfortable for her, but she does it anyway. No way you could force her to do it. We didn't start out this way, her and me, but she taught me to listen to her, and rewarded me for doing it.

The Thoroughbred today was so much more calm than he used to be. He didn't get anxious - he just kept talking to us about the problem. So I'm glad that at least he feels encouraged to communicate directly, despite our obtuseness. And anyway, I'm always glad when it turns out that it's just me being dumb again. I'd hate to find out that there really was such a thing as a stubborn horse.