Friday, August 24, 2007

Five Minor Triumphs

Yesterday was a day of minor triumphs for me.

Triumph #1. I have a buyer who may be interested in Bonnie. So I got Ken to take some video clips of me working with her, to send to the lady. I even saddled Bonnie up for the first time since October, and rode her a little in the round pen. Considering that she's still so young and inexperienced, and hadn't been ridden in nearly a year, she did really well.

(Incidentally, I hadn't ridden in nearly a year either, and I did okay too!)

Here's a
short video clip of the ride. Nothing too exciting. Since it was her first workout in such a long time, we kept the session short and simple.

Triumph #2. I finally managed to get a halter onto Glory. I'd been dreading it, sinceI figured it would require either another strenuous 5-hour round pen session like last time, or I would have to get a rope onto her head and let her fight it out until she gave in. Either way, we'd both end up tired and anxious.

Instead, I decided to try a different method. Glory is extremely smart, and if I can convince
her that she wants to work WITH me instead of against me, life will be a lot easier on both of us. So I removed her weaning buddy and left her alone in the paddock, so she wouldn't have any distractions from paying attention to me.

Then I got a chair and sat in her paddock with a bucket of grain between my feet and Glory's halter in my hand. I let Glory take a taste of the grain to whet her appetite. Once I had her interest, I just sat there, holding her halter in such a position that she had to put her face into the halter to reach the grain in the bucket.

She snorted and bugged her eyes out a little at first, because she knew where this was going. But the lure of the grain was too strong. She dipped her nose into the halter and grabbed a taste of grain, then jumped away, chewing. I let her do this several times without moving the halter at all.

Once she got used to that, whenever she put her nose in, I'd move the halter strap up near her ears. That made her jump away at first, but gradually I could fold the strap across the top of her head without a reaction. At that point, all I had to do was slide the strap into the buckle and fasten it. All the while, she was happily munching grain.

The first time she lifted her head from the bucket and discovered that the halter was still on her head, she got a little nervous again. But after a few more bites of grain, she forgot all about it.

Total training time: 15 minutes, and nobody got panicked or out of breath at all. THAT'S what I call a successful session!

A few more times like that, and soon Glory will start to associate the halter with feeding time, and once the happy memories are established, she shouldn't ever be difficult to halter again.

Triumph #3. While I was doing evening chores, Maggie's filly Libby was being her usual friendly self. I decided to test her to see if she remembered her halter breaking lesson from a couple of weeks ago.

Like Glory, Libby is extremely smart, but unlike Glory, she is also extremely amenable to doing whatever you ask her to do. To my delight, she led perfectly, even when I asked her to follow me away from the herd.

So I decided to take the next step and start her weaning process. I led her out of the pasture, across the yard, and into the pen with Glory without any problems. She stopped a couple of times and got nervous about going to a new place, but after a couple of seconds, she'd follow me willingly.

Fortunately, her mom, Maggie, had her head buried in the hay feeder and didn't notice this was going on until after Libby was in the weaning paddock, because as soon as Maggie looked up and saw that her baby was gone, she started bellowing. Which, of course, set Libby off. She cried back to her mom and trotted back and forth around the paddock for quite awhile.

Unlike Bonnie, who just seemed relieved to be rid of Glory when she was weaned, Maggie really loves being a mom. She hollered for her baby all night long, and is still at it this morning.

Triumph #4. Peri's leg is making noticeable healing progress. The giant hole where the flesh had rotted away is starting to fill in with new flesh. She is getting to be an old pro at the bandaging sessions too, and for the most part lies still willingly while we change the bandages. She's still very thin, so we always give her grain afterwards, which makes her extremely cheerful.

Triumph #5. In an effort to reduce our huge hay expenses, a couple of weeks ago I reluctantly decided to offer Char and Scylla to an online horse-enthusiast acquaintance on a free lease. He would keep them mostof the year, and they'd just come back here to have their foals and be rebred. I'd continue to get the foals from them for three years, and after that, if we were both still agreed, I would give the mares to him for free.

Last night the fellow called and is going to come see the mares this Sunday. If he likes them, they may go to their new home very soon. I'm so torn up about this. I can't stand the idea of parting with Char. She is my favorite of all my horses, by a mile. I love everything about her, and can't imagine my herd without its wise lead mare.

But we really, seriously don't have the money to care for this many horses the way I want to care for them. So if the "for sale" ones aren't selling, I still need to downsize the herd somehow. If Char and Scylla could have a new loving home where they would still be able to be together (they're sisters, and very attached to each other), then I have to put my emotions aside and do what has to be done.

Of course, it seems that no day of triumphs is complete without a little failure as well.

Before I left on my sheep delivery trip, I checked all the foal's halters to make sure they weren't growing out of them yet. Grace's seemed a little bit tight, but I thought it would be fine until I got back.

Apparently I underestimated Grace's growth rate (she's gigantic: 10.3 hands at birth, and over 13 hands at 4 months). In the week I was gone, she grew enough that the halter started cutting into her face. I readjusted it yesterday when I saw what was happening, but I feel like a terrible foal "mom" for letting her pretty face be hurt.

In addition to that, sometime while I was gone, she gouged a wound in the tip of her nose. Ken didn't notice it to treat it or anything. Now that I'm back, it's mostly healed, but I think it may make an ugly blemish---sort of a fleshy lump the size of the tip of your thumb, sticking out of the tip of her nose. It's not serious, but I hate to see her pretty face marred.

Oh well. I guess I can't be everywhere, keeping every animal safe every second of the day. I just do what I can each day, and move on from there!

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