Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunny day

After about 3 inches of snow on top of 2 inches of ice last night (I'm not complaining, they predicted 8-10"), the sun came out and the sky was robins egg blue, as is typical of a New England day after a snow storm. The sun warmed the air and the snow reflected the sunshine back, and it was glorious!!! Even though the thermometer said 25F, it sure felt at least 40F with the sun and no breeze. Have I mentioned the sun?

After morning chores, then lunch, I decided to push the housework (which is in DIRE need, I might add) to the back burner. After all, its going to be hard-pressed to get to 15F for a high for the next 4-5 days, and I'll have plenty of time to keep warm vacuuming, scrubbing, and organizing. My daughter and I decided to play with the girls for a little while before the sun dropped too low, causing long frigid shadows.

Unfortunately, I still can't even bring a horse out of the paddock if I wanted to, there is just too much ice, and ice combined with hills is just not a good mix. They are fine on their own, they can pick their way, they know every square mm of their paddock, but I don't like to take them out where they don't have the ground memorized, when the footing is either deep mud, or icy. Mandy wanted to play with Whinney a little bit first. Whinney is Mandy's pony, that she has sadly outgrown. Whinney loves Mandy so much, she just begs for them to do something together, so Mandy has started doing ground stuff with her, and she wants to end up with an obstacle course, sort of like dog agility. We'll see how that goes.

Since we couldnt' really do anything requiring movement, Mandy wanted to teach Whinney to pick up rings, with the goal of her carrying them and putting them on a peg, or in a bucket. Whinney watched me start this process a few weks ago with Lakota, so she already had an idea of what the game was. Soon enough, Mandy had Whinney picking up the rings. All the while, Lakota stood at the door, watching, taking notes, and giving tips and pointers to Whinney.

While we were waiting for the use of the stall, I sat down in my chair to soak up a little bit of sun and that elusive Vitamin D, while Jen stood watch over me (and blocking most of my sun, too!).

After Mandy's hands got cold from wet pony slobber, Lakota leaped into the stall and gave me "the look".

In no time at all, Lakota had progress from just touching the rings, to letting me put it in her mouth, then opening her mouth for me to put it in, then to picking it up herself. I think the next time, I'll start putting the ring in different places and see if I can get her to pick it up herself, then we'll move on to what she can do with it once she has it. She progressed much, much faster than last time, I think because she was watching Mandy and Whinney. Mandy also noted that Whinney was sticking her muzzle inside the ring, which is what Lakota did last time while Whinney watched.

This may sound like silly stuff, and while it is fun, it also has a use. Lakota has mouth issues. She hates a bit and won't take one, she also hates dewormer tube, and really doesn't like her mouth messed with. This exercise will help her to soften her mouth (mentally), and allow me to handle her mouth without her being so resistant to having things done with it.

As I mentioned before, it also develops our relationship, she continues to have trust in me, and she gets to do stuff that is fun for her, too. By mixing things up, with stuff that is fun for her rather than just me, she is more eager to do things together, wondering what sort of fun thing we may do next.

Lakota was not even halter-broke, nor was she catchable when I got her at 7 years of age. So she will revert to what I call her "feral" state when she is left for any amount of time. Not that she forgets anything she's learned, she just goes back to not wanting/needing human company. So it is very helpful for me to have some fun little things to do with her when the weather doesn't allow us to work on more traditional exercises.


Denise Conroy said...

Hey Michelle! I wanted to do the same thing today...take advantage of the rather nice day with the COLD temps coming in tonight. But ended up taking the dogs for a walk instead of riding Reese. Good for you for thinking ahead and making the most of the day!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Love the picture at the top of your blog!
I think you're teaching them fun games will have all good effects and it's fun. We're snowed in here too with low temps, hope it warms up soon. Your horses are adorable.

Michelle said...

Thanks, Grey Horse :-) That is Ana, and I can't believe its coming up on a year that she's been gone (2/28). She broke her leg 2/28, she was 8 months old. She was such a little imp, and always had to be in the middle of everything. When I took that photo, I was bending over working on Lakota's left front hoof. I had the camera because I was taking pics of her hoof to compare (it helps me to see photos to make sure I'm trimming properly), and when I happened to glance up, that is what I saw :-)