My horse likes me. I have proof.

Baron's Christmas present
Barn cat Hugh greets me from the roof.

Showing off his tattoo.

Today I went to the barn during my lunch break to drop off feed. I walked over to the fence to snap a few pics of Baron. I wanted to compare them to pics of last winter to see if he looks fatter. He was happily munching hay with his buddies, and he actually walked away from them to come over to the fence and say hi. How cool! He hasn’t always done this. In the past he was more likely to glance at me and then go back to snacking. I attribute this new friendliness to the groundwork we’ve been doing. I think he enjoys being challenged and of course he loves the treats at the end. Yay! My horse likes me back!

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Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Ride!

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! I certainly did. My husband and I agreed not to spend a lot of money this year, so he got creative with my gifts and did a great job. He got me two horse ornaments; one is a fox hunter and the other a jumper. They’re both greys, which are my favorite even though I have a chestnut. I’ll upload a picture later. I also got a nice new lead rope.  A+ to my husband for the horsey presents!

Baron got a big bag of apple treats and on Christmas Day he got a handful of treats for no reason except that I love him. Usually he has to work for treats!

So, did anyone get any good horse-related presents? Did you get your horses anything for Christmas?

My horse is so frickin’ smart.

I managed to get to the barn before it got dark this weekend so I got to do some groundwork with Baron in the round pen instead of inside the barn. I took his leadrope off  to see if he would pay attention to me without it. In the past I’ve had trouble keeping his attention. He had a tendency to wander back to the gait as if to say, “Okay, I’m done. This is boring.”

This time though he was focused on me the entire time. He backed up and came forward with no lead rope, just hand gestures. All I have to do is wiggle my finger and he backs up. I love it! I also played Parelli’s Stick to Me game, which is trying to get your horse to follow you around. I used to be able to get him to follow me for a few steps but then he would lose interest and go back to the gate. This time he followed me around and around, switching directions and staying with me the whole time. I think the idea that he is going to get a treat if he humors me and plays my silly game is enough to keep him interested. He plays along until I start pulling apple treats out of my pockets!

My next goal is to get him to move laterally on the ground. He can go backward and forward and now I want to add sideways. I also want to get him to change gaits with me. If he’s following me and I start to jog, I want him to trot. Right now he’ll walk a little faster if I jog, but I want to get a nice trot out of him.

I am very proud of the progress he’s making. With the proper motivation (delicious apple snacks), he’s quite the overachiever!

Fox Hunting

I’ve always wanted to fox hunt. It’s on the bucket list. Something about it has always fascinated me, probably the fact that I picture it being done in England by wealthy gentry who ride horses and throw fabulous dinner parties.

Here’s a funny article I found about foxhunting:

“This was posted on the Tack of the Day website, a highly addictive site run by Bit of Britain that offers special pricing on tack and equestrian items.

Why We Like Foxhunting: The Real Reasons

Firstly, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion over foxhunting jargon.

A drag hunt is when all the male members of the field either ride side saddle wearing a veil or dress as lady members of the field. This is usually done on gay pride day.
Secondly, the real reason people hunt is to drive their neighbors crazy. There is nothing like no sooner getting all your young horses turned out than having a bunch of yahoos gallop down your driveway and set the entire herd of babies crazy. It won’t matter to them that it will take you two hours to cool them out and the new splint on your fancy yearling will never let you win Best Young Horse at Devon and sell him for a fortune.
And, for some reason, this same group who can gallop down the middle of any blacktop road in the county, but insist on racing down the newly planted grass on both sides of your driveway.
And speaking of gallop, why does everyone need to run a hundred miles an hour only to smash into the quarters of the horse stopped 200 feet ahead of them?
No one cares if your heels are up or down, and George Morris is never there to comment on your style.
You can tranquilize your horse and never get tested by the show association.
You don’t have to clean your tack, braid or pull your horse’s mane or trim his ears unless you are really compulsive.
If you do all of the above everyone will hate you and you will be riding alone.
You can own the ugliest, cheapest horse on the planet and if he is quiet, never kicks a hound and jumps all the jumps without stopping, people will offer you a fortune for him.
That is why we like fox hunting.”

Treats!

One of Parelli’s ideas that I find really helpful is the Horsenality chart. He puts horses into four main categories, a combo of either Left or Right Brain and Introvert or Extrovert. Once you figure out your horse’s horsenality it’s easier to determine how to motivate them and how to gain their trust.
Here is the chart:
Parelli's Horsenality Chart

 Originally I thought Baron was a Left Brain Extrovert because he is happy and carefree, loves to be naughty and is very mouthy. For example, if I’m grooming him he loves to knock over the bucket of grooming tools. Or if I’m saddling him, he likes to bite the saddle and try to pull it off the rack. But when I do ground work with him, he turns very Left Brain Introvert, as in bored, non-responsive, would clearly rather be back in the pasture with his friends. He’s still sweet, but you can tell he’s skeptical about the point of what I’m trying to get him to do. One characteristic of Left Brain Introverts (LBI)  is that they ask, “What’s in it for me?” That is so Baron. I know for a fact that he knows how to back up, move forward, step left and right, lunge, change gaits, etc… He simply chooses not to, because he doesn’t see the point and it’s much easier to just stand there and look at me.

Another characteristic of LBI’s is that they are very motivated by food. Sometimes that’s the only way to motivate them. There has to be some kind of reward, something in it for them. So yesterday I picked up some apple treats at the feed store when I bought my grain. Last night when I went to do my barn chores, I took Baron out of his stall into the barn aisle for a little ground work. It was dark and cold, so there was no going outside to the round pen.

Well, I started by asking him to come forward and back up. He sluggishly did both after a lot of effort in the asking. Then I got out the treats. All of a sudden before me appeared a brand new horse, one with enthusiasm and pep! He backed up six or seven steps when I asked. What a difference! So I’m definitely going to incorporate some treats into the ground work. It was great to see him so enthusiastic!