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First of all, if you've been driving in an open bridle, the horse is used to the sight of the cart. So if they get spooked, why can't they just turn their head and see what is behind them like they do normally to see what is in their blind spot? But if you have blinders on, then the horse can't actually turn and see what is behind them, so it seems more likely that the panic would continue as they hear something chasing them that they can't see. Then it is all left up to the horse's imagination.
This is exactly what I was thinking when I took the blinders off my driving bridle. Also, there was no internet back in those days, and I got several books about driving and a few magazine articles about how to teach a horse to drive. And also, my friends from the thoroughbred farm helped me, which I wrote about on another thread. I put all that together, both plus and minus about blinders and came up with that conclusion.

I never had a problem with a horse spooking or bolting . . . until one terrible morning when, for some unknown reason, my horse starting trotting out the driveway as I was getting into the cart. There is always that split second when you leave the horses' head to get into the cart. I still had the rein, but not tightly. My tried-and-true steady eddy appaloosa decided she was ready to GO and began trotting before I could quite get into the cart. I bounded in the cart with her trotting. Everything would have been perfectly fine except we lived on a blind hill, and a car came barreling over the hill at 60 mph in a 45 mile limit, hit the cart just as my trotting mare entered the road, knocked the wheel off the cart and knocked the cart sideways, then hit my horse. The cart flipped over with me underneath it and my horse bolted down the road. We both survived, but my horse never got over her PTSD and I never was able to drive her again.

Lotta work to convert your cage, but I'll bet your hamster will love it. I hope you love having a hamster. We always enjoyed ours. Here's another funny story. My daughter wanted a dwarf hamster. She told the pet shop owner she wanted a male, and the proprietor assured her this one was a male. Three days later "he" had 6 babies! We ended up giving the babies back to the pet shop and kept the mom because my daughter had already bonded with her. I wanted to keep one of the babies, but it wasn't my decision to make.
 

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Discussion Starter · #603 ·
@TrainedByMares, thanks, that is good to know.

@knightrider, that pet store owner had no excuse...hamster boys are rather obvious. Like rats.
Rodent Whiskers Fawn Terrestrial animal Grass

What a terrible driving accident! So traumatic for you and the horse. I know well that moment where you are so vulnerable, hopping into the cart. I've hopped back out and tried to catch them, and had them run the cart into the side of buildings or other carts.
 

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That story may give my nightmares @knightrider!

I was in a wreck in a cart when I was little, and I thought if the blinders had not been on it could have possibly not happened. Blinders allowed his training to feel rushed, and he had no idea what was going on and panicked.

Zeus just was so easy and good, and I really wanted him to understand what was going on. I read an article about another country, and there are lots of trees. They don’t like blinders because of the trees and getting rubbed out of place and then having a horse panic when it sees what’s going on. They said that only horses who cannot be trained to pull without blinders will have them used.
 

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Discussion Starter · #605 ·
I drove Aria today in an open bridle. Sadly, even the smallest of my black bridles does not fit her, so I had to use a brown one. The driving bridle that came with the harness is very pretty but the blinders are stapled on.

She was confused at first, but then was doing better than she has before, so we practiced for a while. It seemed to help her to be able to see me behind her (after the initial confusion of thinking she should turn to face me), and I felt she was calmer than before. I think it was giving her some anxiety to have such limited vision.

Of course by the time I was finished with driving practice, it was pitch dark. There is just not enough time to do everything in the daylight. The horses had a good turnout time while I was cleaning the field, but before the barn I had to get pills for the cat at the vet, and then stop at the feed store for hay pellets, and there the daylight went.

For the first time at this barn I tried riding with my LED headband on, and that gave me plenty of light. It was a little tricky because when Hero stalled and stared at something I didn't know what he was seeing. So urging him forward, I was half-hearted because quite possibly there was a good reason. But Aria, my non-reactive pony did not ever seem concerned, so I suspected there was nothing like a bear in front of us.

After we had been riding and ponying around the property for a while, the barn owner came driving over. Then I felt bad because she had seen a strange light floating around from inside her house, and wondered if someone was looking for a lost pet or trying to hunt on the property. Once she realized it was just me trying to ride in the dark, she was happy I could be out there, but laughing because she had been so mystified by the floating light.

Today the two rats were sitting high up near the ceiling, looking out of a crack where I could see their little eyes and noses. They chattered at me, and I felt like they wanted us to see each other. They must be middle-aged by now at least, and have had no babies so I wonder how two males or females ended up together. Maybe they are siblings.

I've submitted an application to a small animal rescue in the city, asking about a couple of hamsters. My local vet office says they will see hamsters, so that's good since sometimes you have to drive a ways to get someone to see exotics. I've finished painting their room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #606 ·
I hope this isn't too political because I mean to say this in a neutral and somewhat humorous way.
But do any other horse people have this strange feeling when the news says things about BLM and riots? At least the first several times I heard this (not really paying attention), it grabbed me as my first instinct was to think, "Are people upset because of the mustangs?" LOL, but to horse people the abbreviation BLM has always meant Bureau of Land Management, and issues with wild horses, and that is what first pops into my mind whenever I hear it.
 

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Even now as I read what you asked I thought is there another Lavoy or what is going on, how do I not know this. Then as I read the next sentence I thought, oh ya, that.

Seriously, although I get the BLM stands for a perfectly succinct title, it is super confusing. Maybe whoever thought of that didn’t have contact with the prior BLM which is the only my mind ever goes to.
 

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I once worked for the Forest Service and had applied for (although not gotten) a job with the BLM. I considered getting a masters in Range Management so yeah, BLM to me means Bureau of Land Management. Maybe they should be called URBAN BLM and RURAL BLM (U-BLM and R-BLM) to distinguish, but very few people and almost no reporters give a rat's rear about rural issues!

Judging from what some ranchers tell me, I'm not sure the modern R-BLM cares about rural issues either...seems they are focused on appeasing city folks and their masters in DC.
 

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I always thought that @bsms, but I think they are pressured from above. Oh, just like anyone there are bad apples… someone dancing in my mind… but mostly I think they are trying their best with obstacles on both sides. The higher ups want to please more urban voters, and so they control to that side, where maybe the actual low men in the organization really do want to do what is best for the land. Yet, hands are tied.
 

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What my friend tells me is that both the USFS and BLM people he deals with now grew up in cities and have no concept of how animals behave. When I was applying for jobs, a typical "Range Manager" grew up on a ranch, or at least had friends who had. And a typical one would listen to the rancher's objections. Now? They don't understand and don't want to listen.

My boss on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources grew up on a sheep ranch and had ridden as a cowboy before being hired by the DWR. He was passionate about wildlife, but he didn't ASSUME a conflict. He believed urban sprawl was a bigger danger to wildlife than cattle and sheep. He knew SOME ranchers abused their permits. And that others did not. He was pro-wildlife, not anti-human.

Another friend from college worked as late as the early 90s in Montana, working for the state but his desk was in the USFS office. He said the USFS workers viewed HIKERS as intruders on "their" forest. He quit in disgust because he was such an odd man out. He came from the city too, but he thought public lands were for EVERYONE. We had "Multiple Use" hammered into us in college and we believed it. Another college roommate stayed with the Forest Service for 40 years. By the end of his career...he had turned. It was "his forest", not "our forests"!

I'm sure there are some good people still in the managing agencies, but I think there are fewer than when I was young. As we become a more urbanized society, our policies will be rooted more and more in the imaginations of city folk instead of the experience of people who spend much of their lives outdoors.

Me? City boy who loves being outdoors. I wouldn't assume a rancher was honest. Sorry, but I've met too many ranchers. But I've also known some who are the 'salt of the earth', great people who care far MORE about the land than any city person I know, including me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #613 ·
Aria didn't do so great ground driving yesterday. I thought it might help to have DH walk in front to help guide her forward if she got stuck. But it seemed to confuse her. I think she thought he was leading her, but then I was trying to guide her with the bit when she got too close to him. She was tossing her head and it took a while to get her straightened out enough to call it "practice." Oh well.

I have been working hard on my hamster cage. Thought it was pretty great, until I showed the pictures to the rescue and learned that I still have much to learn.

A hamster forum has been helpful. Basically, I was like someone coming on here and saying, "I'm ready to get a horse, I can put him in an extra big 12 x 12 stall, so that's great, right?"

The levels that were great for rats are not helpful to hamsters. My thought at first was that maybe the cage could be turned back into a rat cage someday if necessary.

Nope. Species with completely different needs. Ventilation is key for rats, but hamsters need sides that will hold in deep bedding. So...more plexiglass is coming and the wire mesh is going to be minimized.

Regardless, my length for continuous burrowing is set by the length and width of the cage, not the height, so I only have enough space for a dwarf hamster.

Like horses, sterotypical behaviour happen if hamsters have an unsuitable habitat. Overbreeding causes neuro issues that people think are normal like back flips and circling. Climbing bars and chewing are like horses weaving and cribbing. So I'm learning a lot.

Not a great kid's pet apparently because (as DH rolls his eyes) they have expensive care needs. Big cages, tons of bedding. As DH says, "But the hamster costs about $10!"

Here is my first attempt:

Not suitable. The hamster people like this one better, but the bedding falls out the mesh so I need to add more plexiglass.
In my experience, every pet is expensive! And time consuming. But I ordered a new cat box from amazon the other day and it came with two more stuck to it...someone thought it was one. So the cats have three giant litter boxes now with low step in for geriatrics.😁

Of course it is fun to buy toys and hideouts, and some I found at the thrift store.
 

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Wow! I would think that cage would be the rescue’s idea of a heaven for a hamster!! Little girl had a dwarf hamster for a bit. I didn’t like him to be honest. He had no friendliness to his personality, and was an escape artist. He was in a mouse cage, and the bars were too far apart for his tiny little self in certain places. Don’t ask me how we would manage to catch him in his varied escapes.

One time we found him in the garbage can, and another in a shoe. I don’t know how he escaped the cat. Then, one day little girl said he had escaped again, and we searched and searched. I decided it was time to give up a week in (once we had found him at 3 days), and I cleaned the cage. He was in the cage dead. He had burrowed and died in there, and I guess we didn’t think to look because he was in a different spot than normal.

Big girl and I caught a vole later that year, and he was much friendlier. He was always happy to be given food, and would take it out of our hands. He was becoming obese, because we enjoyed feeding him and he enjoyed eating. Then one day he bit big girl over something, and she decided he needed to be freed. Lol

I finally got myself a feeder mouse last year or the year before, because I had always wanted one. Two actually. They didn’t live very long, both ended up with tumors. Besides the Guinea pig and the captured vole, none of them were good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #615 ·
Aww sad about the hamster and the vole sounds cute.

Hero celebrated thanksgiving very well. When I brought the horses out and got through Hero's layers of caked mud, I thought he was looking more rotund than usual.

After cleaning the field, I went into the hay shed and discovered we had stacked a bale too close to one of the openings we feed through. It was too high for Aria to have reached, but Hero had worked through a good chunk of the bale before finally knocking it off the stack.

It must have been disappointing when he couldn't reach it anymore.

The turkeys were running around the town, flaunting the fact that they had once again survived the human hunger games.
 

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Wow, that hamster cage is amazing! We always just had regular little ones that you get at a pet store, nothing close to that. We didn't have stereotypical behaviors. The hamsters were friendly and fun. And they lived longer than predicted--a lot longer--so I guess they weren't too unhappy. It helped that the kids played with them a lot, I think.
 
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