Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1 down 1 to go

Success got a halter and rope on the little grey mare today...step 1 is complete.

Have been feeding them 3 times a day just going in and out of the pen getting them used to me. Letting them eat out of my hands so they associate me with food. Generally getting them used to having me around. This morning as they ate their hay i tryd just rubbing the brown boy on the bum...he didn't seem to mind to much flicking his ears back and forth in suspicion but then just carried on eating.

Have been worried about the conditions of the yards and keeping the horses in there for much longer. The yard itself is pretty small, being winter its also muddy. Not good for the horses health as its bad for their hooves to be constantly submerged in mud. So because of this i decided to crack on and see if i can get halters on these little guys so i can handle them and get them into better conditions....

So at lunch i went down to the yards. First things first, i needed to separate them. There was no way i wanted to deal with two horses in such a confined space. As this would probably lead to me being kicked to pieces.....definitely to be avoided. The yard narrows into a little box at one end so the idea was to separate them so i had room to work with one horse at the larger end while the other was locked away at the other. So after i separated them i just pushed a few of my jumping pole through and tied them in place. this took a couple of goes as the grey mare was super quick to duck under the pole when i didn't get them in soon enough. Was actually amazing to see how quickly she could get down and under a gap you would think far to low for her height!

Next i hoped down into the pen with the boy waited for him to settle. slowly i just started rubbing him with the stick i was carrying. Starting with his bum then along his back and finally up to his head until he was relaxed. Every time he accepted the stick touching him i would take it away for a few seconds, let him relax and think about it for a few seconds then go back to rubbing him. This seemed to work as pretty soon he was sniffing me and licking his lips, chewing and lowering his head ( a sign the horse is thinking things through and not just frozen in fear). Next step i just worked my way closer until he was happy with me near him, then started the process again of rubbing him all over this time with my hand. Once i got to his shoulder this seemed to be all he could handle so i backed off again and decided to leave him for the day.

So on to plan B, decided that the mare in the smaller pen would be an easier task to catch as she had less room to move around. But there was no way i was getting down in the pen with her as she was definitely one that would try in kick me to shreds (fair enough she is wild and has no reason to think I'm not some predator come to eat her). So with her i got a rope and just put it over her back until she was happy with that...then slipped it over her head. As fast as i could i secured the other end to a post and......zilch......she just stood there eyeballing me then licked her lips and relaxed...Huh....where was the rearing fighting and trying to escape????

So i tugged on the rope and she turned her head..i let go the rope and let her think...pulled on it again and got her to take a step and left her again. She seemed to take it all in her stride. So i tied the rope tight enough she couldn't rear over backwards or hurt herself and left her to get used to the rope with a bag full of hay for an hour. When i came back i started rubbing her neck then around her ears again taking my hand away each time she relaxed. finally she accepted my hand on her face so i slipped a halter on her and....nothing she pulled back a few steps til she hit the end of the rope..paused and came back to eating hay....Easiest job 'I've ever had putting a halter on a horse for the first time...

So far so good....tomorrow i will do the process all over again with the brown boy. Hopefully the grey will be quiet enough that i can get a halter on again and bring her home to a paddock so she can work on gaining weight and feeding that baby growing inside her.

Lastly hopefully this will be one of the only essay length blogs that i write...short and sweet from now on...