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Shropshirerosie 04-17-2013 06:12 PM

Two Horses at Home, a journey of Discovery
I already have one journal thread going in here about my move to Canada from the UK, but I wanted to start a separate one purely about my work with my two big furry boys. As this is not in keeping with the request for one thread per member, I can only hope that the nice moderators don't publicly burn my journal and put me in the stocks over this.....pretty please

My two horses are both Canadian Horse geldings


A 16.2 (or more, I haven't actually measured him) big black solid chap. Looks like a draught, but really is a purebred Canadian. 8 years old in 2013. Not got much formal education in him, but is very laid back and has done a little bit of trail rides, obstacle work etc in his life. Last spring he went for a try out with the Mounties. I bought him in September 2012.

He is large, and not easily spooked. He is the dominant horse in the field, and doesn't get pushed around by anyone I think that a common mistake with a Horse like him is to try to be 'overly dominant' to manage him. Certainly, I have fallen into this trap a little bit myself. But he has a brain, and sensitivities just like a more 'flyweight' horse and I must learn to tap into this. When he opens up to love you, it's a big old hunk of love.


A 16.1 chestnut chap, five years old in 2013. Sensitive, responsive, curious, willing, a little bit uncertain of himself in this big old world. He has been started, but I have done little with him since he came in September. A very loving boy.

Shropshirerosie 04-17-2013 06:21 PM

Starting the process
I am giving up on the snow going as fast as it SHOULD, and am starting I'm the snow.

Today I took Ukon into the round pen (complete with 24 inches of snow). First we did a little bit of pressure & release to bring him towards me. This was so successful I did a tiny bit of back-up from a chest push. Also good. I want to keep it very short and sweet to start.

Then I gently asked him to walk on the lunge - through the snow of course - so my control of his feet was important. We did three rotations on each rein and then stopped. He's been off work all winter, he is not slender, and the sun was shining. I know that it was hard work because he clearly wanted to drop and roll :lol:

Very pleased with him, and much stroking and rubbing as a reward.

Then I went to Riley. I didn't take him in the round pen as the other two were not near to bother us. I just wanted to see how sensitive he would be to my instructions with pressure and release on the head collar. I kept my requests deliberately gentle and his responses were perfect. He is a little prone to be in my space - and so we did a little bit of backing him out of my space with my body language alone. He is clever, and I think he likes to work in this way.

I wonder how much mental pressure he bears being the boss of the herd? At his old place he was boss of a 15 strong herd in many acres; here it's just the two horses and a donkey. But I think he takes it very seriously.

Chevaux 04-17-2013 06:26 PM

So, here I am safely transferred over to your new thread. I look forward to it being as entertaining as your old one. Good luck with all endeavours.

P.S. Occasional donkey tidbits would be well received, I think.

clairegillies 04-18-2013 03:50 AM

lucky you, getting to live in Canada, though I do not envy you the snow.... look forward to hearing your updates with your lovely horses. photo's please?

Shropshirerosie 04-19-2013 10:31 PM

Sideways sleet dumped on my plan to work in the pen. But instead did a bit of impromptu field cuddling, including some backing up of Riley who thought I wouldn't mind if he barged Ukon and Arthur out of the way to get to my cuddle first.

Arthur by the way should have a late introduction:

He's my cuddly fluffy standard donkey. Gentle and kind, loves to hug, adores Ukon, keeps a watchful eye over the field.

Shropshirerosie 04-22-2013 04:06 PM

:happydance: tra la laa la laa it's a sunny day.

The vet-dentist was meant to come today but had to reschedule for tomorrow, so we worked instead.

Ukon in the round pen, paying close attention when I ask him to stand still as I move to the end of the lunge me, then came to me nice and soft when I asked with gentle touch on the line and body language.

Then we lunged at walk again with lovely success as he knew what I wanted this time. One of my dogs got hysterical barking in the face of stoic Arthur the donkey so I paused to put citronella-spray anti bark collar on said dog. I had insisted on Ukon working and ignoring the barking so this was a good experience for him, but I stopped the barking when little puppy started to join in as I don't want puppy learning to bark at donkeys!

Dog barking interruption caused Ukon to lose focus momentarily but as I just asked him to focus, and denied him permission to get in a flap, he re-focused nicely.

Finished with him by grooming a duvet-worth of ginger hair out of his moulting coat......

Then took Riley into round pen and repeated 'stand while I move away, then come to me' exercise. He was less willing to stand while I moved, wanting to come to me but when I wiggled the lead rope to prevent him moving forward he understood what I wanted :thumbsup: and then as soon as I stilled the lead rope and made my body smaller he was straight in.

I know from the Autumn that Riley doesn't lunge well, but is better free schooled in the pen, so I didn't use the lunge line. Instead I set him up and asked for a walk. He headed straight out to the fence where the snow is all melted - I think he thought he might find some grass - and I asked for walk with arm and whip. He attempted to ignore me and I flicked the whip at his hind hocks which was enough to prove that I WAS in a position to control his movements. Then we had to complete circuits of the pen on both reins. He is one lardy unfit horse as this had him blowing a bit!

Grooming for him (enough fur to make it look like it's been snowing black fur) and then back to the field.

Arthur is at his happiest when he has Ukon at his side, and Riley within view. He waited soo patiently while I was working Ukon, watching at the gate of the pen with ultimate donkey patience.

jaydee 04-22-2013 04:50 PM

Subbing :lol:

Shropshirerosie 04-25-2013 08:21 AM

Poles on the ground
I laid out in the arena all the square crates, and poles that are not still frozen in the ground. Ukon (accompanied by the ever loving Arthur) sniffed them all with curiosity, and walked over the poles when asked by me.

Good!, I now know that he is not scared of them and when the ground is drier I will be able to approach them all with confidence.

jaydee 04-25-2013 12:50 PM

Good idea
I find doing things like that gives them something to think about too, I don't know about other peoples horses but my lot soon switch off if they get bored and they lose the whole work ethic thing

Shropshirerosie 04-25-2013 10:14 PM

Lunging in mud
Well, actually the round pen is drying out quickly with just one quarter of the circle being squishy still. I did however stick to walk as anything other would have been a fast route to damaged tendons!

Ukon and I did a grown-up horse lunging session to my great pride and joy. He knew what was being asked, and he did it. That horse is SUCH a perceptive reader of cues, far more so than all the horses i have had before. I am really going to have to work with an instructor to get the best out of his ridden work :-)

I am currently lunging in a headcollar. Next I will reintroduce the bridle, and then I am toying with using my equi-ami (it's like a Pessoa, only not...). Hmm. Views welcome from any readers here.

The arena is almost dry enough to use. I will start long-lining Riley in it as soon as it is in a useable state. I think/hope he might do quite well at that.

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