Planned to go to the farm today to hang out with Kaz and the gang. I’m about to get a lot busier than I have been in a while, so am taking every opportunity to go.
The day started with a hike up to the look-out this morning with Gracie. (it’s up the mountain behind our house – about 45 min there and back. Not a big hike, but does the trick in giving Grace a bit of a workout. Used to take a lot more, but she’s 10 now!) Took her to the farm, yesterday, and wanted to leave her at home today. Wanted to spend the afternoon with the horses and I don’t like leaving her in the car for more than a couple of hours.
When I arrived, I was surprised to see Marie’s truck. She was farm-sitting at 2 homes this weekend and I thought she’d be away. I fed the goats and sheep. Brought a few bits from our kitchen waste for them. Goats are not great at sharing! Tried to give the little lamb some carrot pieces, but he was more interested in ‘practice’ eating the hay. I say practice because I don’t see him, actually, putting any in his mouth he just seems to be practicing. He’s a little doll. One of the sheep had a chunk out of her ear. Probably the goat took a nibble!
After a bit Marie came out to water the horses and then planned on going back to the farm she was sitting at. 2 of the big troughs were frozen. She said it was a fuse and not the heaters. A good thing! We sorted that out and then she asked me if I’d like to see the farm that was down the road she was going to. Just 2 dogs at this farm to let out. So off we went. Marie has mentioned this place to me before. Saying how beautiful the view is. It is spectacular! Both Round Lake and Golden Lake are visible. With all the mountains in between. Just gorgeous. On the way back she was sent a text that she didn’t have to go to the other farm as the owners were on their way home. Her plan was to then spend time with her horses. Grooming them and just hanging out. She has decided to keep Tina and, therefore, will be working on building a relationship with her. Her aim is to use her as a riding horse or to drive her (pulling a cart). Interesting how her plan isn’t to ‘break her’ and then ride her or have her pull a cart. First she builds a relationship on the ground. What a concept.
After grooming the horses in Tina/Kaz’s herd we decided to take Tina and Kaz for a walk. I can’t put in to words how wonderful I think this is. I’ve done it a couple of times with Kaz, but not with Marie where she was working with Tina. This is so fascinating. Marie understands every little twitch that a horse does. Everything (kind of like a dog) has meaning to her. So the aim of what we were doing was to walk down the road without getting trampled or squished (I did a bit …more on that later). The horses were to walk with us. Not drag us or pull us. Every time Tina would walk too close or make a move that looked like she was going to bug Kaz, Marie caught it and corrected it. Tina is so sensitive that Marie can think what she wants her to do and Tina does it. Tina was walking with her head really high (a sign of being stressed). Marie asked her to put her head down through thought (literally) and body language and Tina responded. She did this with backing up, going sideways, etc. So very cool!
On our way back Kaz was more stressed. Probably anxious to get back with the herd. He was pushing in to my space. Marie said something like “at some point your going to have to correct this – with meaning.” This means, when he begins to try to walk in to me or ahead of me I fan/twirl the end of the rope (attached to his halter) in a circle in front of him. If he doesn’t respond, you smack him on the nose with it. This isn’t about the human beating the horse down until it’s submissive. It’s explaining through language they can understand what the human wants. It finally occurred to me today, how and why this works. This is how horses communicate with each other. They start with putting their ears back. If this doesn’t get the reaction they want they might reach out to bite. If that doesn’t work they might kick. So we are to do something similar. Start out soft and if that doesn’t work follow through with something that will get their attention. Of course timing is everything and that takes tons of practice. So Marie took Kaz and showed me what she meant (I always do better learning visually). It took very little time for Kaz to respond quickly to what she was asking. I tried a few times and before we got back it was working. We then purposely walked verrrry slowly. The horses walked slowly with us. It was very cool! They were really paying attention unlike when we started.
When I was driving home I was thinking I think I’ve got this now. I, actually, did something with him and he responded! It then occurred to me that maybe Marie’s ‘tune-up’ put him in the frame of mind to ‘listen’….groann…: – ) Oh, well. It’s all good. Just have to practice. It was a wonderful afternoon. Thanks, Marie!!