Thursday, January 20, 2011

Full Moon

The handsome fella above is coming back to me, to stay permanently. I am stoked and excited to have Moonie back, after 6 years away. We are coming full circle, and what was started 19 years ago when I bought Moonie and began a journey of understanding myself and understanding horses, and who we are together, will be returned. Now I can take those 19 years of learning and give them back to a lovely mature soul who will need some TLC in his last decade.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We haz skywets

While the photo doesn't show it too well, it's raining, still. Heavy sodden rain. And it's very warm and muggy. Melbourne doesn't do muggy. Well it didn't when I moved here from Queensland (which is why I moved here, in part, from Queensland). Talking of Queensland, it's been raining there too. Lots. For weeks and weeks. So much so there is massive, drastic flooding across a great deal of the state. Toowoomba was badly impacted earlier this week, and is pertinent to me, as my mother and sister (and her paint horses) live just out of Toowoomba. Toowoomba is also where my parents met, but that's another story. Fortunately my sister and her horses are safe, just cut off from civilisation, which would probably suit them in some ways!

Closer to home, I've not been rugging Maz in this weather. She is prone to chilling, especially when wet, but when it's consistently over 20 degrees and very high humidity overnight, she'd get wetter under a light waterproof, than without one. Because of the weather, and life, Maz has had little work since the apple bribing episode. But she is happy and content, and was perfectly obliging when I soaked her seedy toed hoof in a big yellow bucket of seedy toe killer after the trimmer had been last night. She continues to surprise me. I expected her to cope for a little while then get bored and cranky but instead, she chilled out, foot in bucket, while I scratched her whither, until it was time up. And then I had to really ask her to lift her leg to remove the bucket from under her. Funny girl. Their understanding never ceases to amaze me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A slither of apple

My routine at the moment is come home from work, take a flying leap onto the trainer, whip out ~40km of some kind of effort on the fixie, shower, change, out to the paddock to work and feed the mare. Yesterday I was running a little behind schedule, so decided to work more on acceptance of the bit, when bridling that is!.

I finely sliced some apples, to use as a 'sweetner' in my hand under the bit, to encourage Maz to stop moving her muzzle around (avoiding the bit) and to open her mouth by herself. The  best laid plans....

After catching her, showing her gums to another agistee (that's another story!) I got the bridle, and thought I'd try as per usual first up. She did nothing. As in, no moving of her head to avoid my hand with the bit in it. She didn't open her mouth, but she didn't say "I ain't going near that thing with my mouth either". So I slipped my thumb in her mouth, slide the bit in as she opened up and the deed was simply done. As soon as the headpiece was over her ears, I gave her some apple anyway. And so it went. After five goes, a few with some little head dodges, but more out of tedium than anything else, I took the bridle off for the final time, thrilled with the progress we had made. A few days off, some TLC and chill out time, and a back step with the work load, and Maz's attitude is back on track, and back to being her more pleasant willing self.

Sometimes having too much to do, resulting in cutting back on other things and compromising on what can get done, is a bonus, not a failure.

In other news, I've been checking out heavy duty, snow-proof winter riding gear (boots, gloves etc) while the Aussie dollar is strong, and it's snowing in the northern hemisphere. It's difficult to get very solid, truly cold-proof cold weather gear in Australia (stuf that is Raynauds-proof!), and it's difficult to get cold weather gear at a reasonable price. So I have been shopping online, looking at pictures of amazing looking lined, waterproofed, snowtread boots in snowcovered fields, while it is 35 humid degrees outside. Somehow, it feels just a little ironic...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Matter of Trust

With Maz going so well last week, something had to give and as always with green horses, it's two steps forward and one back.

In some areas Maz continues to improve. I now have a light, responsive leadable horse, but one who is not so thrilled to be "working". I am not sure if it's boredom, being overwhelmed or something else, but the look on her face when I put the bridle on a few days ago said it all. I have started to begin long reining, as well lying across her back. She is coping well with these activities, although I feel she is really not 100% convinced that she is safe/secure. She is definitely standing on the edge of her comfort zone, and when moved into a new venue (ie front most yard on the property rather than the most back paddock) she loses all focus except for potential bogeys (of which there are apparently many). There is no point working a horse whose focus is scattergunned all over the shop!

So I have taken a step back,  to work on consolidating her total trust in me (which will take time of course), rather than pushing the need for her to be under saddle and under my butt! I am also working on total acceptance of having the bit put in her mouth (instead of no! no! no! oh, okay then) and complete acceptance of being girthed. Currently we walk in circles until the girth is secured by some holes. Then we may have a little more circling over 2-3 periods of tightening the girth to a secure point. Once she is "fully" girthed up, I can move the girth holes up and down as I like without her moving. I can remove the roller/saddle and regirth without Maz feeling the need to physically leave. Only on the initial girthing do I get a version of "well, I ain't hanging around for this!". Interestingly, on the 2nd and 3rd girthings last night, she simply glazed over and zoned out, mentally leaving town. That was sad to watch. I find it curious, particularly as the need to walk away is not accompanied by any aggression, adrenalin, high tension etc, just a simple "I don't feel comfortable standing here while this is happening." This followed by a mental shut down (just as dangerous as a physical objection) has me thinking. Again it's a security/trust thing and I need to find a way to resolve this quandary before I take her too much further forward. If I don't,  it's likely to pop back up bigger and brighter, and at a most inconvenient time!

So some lessons, like the one last night, may only be 10 minutes long. Others may be 20 - 30 minutes (but no longer), which includes walking from one end of the property to the other, and back again. I'm not sure what happened to the mare who was confident to check out what's in that otto bin, to one who is becoming insecure and introverted. Obviously there are some memories attached to mouthing and mounting that I need to work through, to help Maz understand she is going to have an ok deal with me, and be rewarded and appreciated for her smallest efforts in helping me help her.