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Discussion Starter #141 (Edited)
Wow, the weather changed. It was cold, windy, and drizzly today. My guys were the only ones out in the pasture. Their hooves were full of bad clay mud that's hard to pick out. And none of them wanted to stand still to be picked out. IDK, maybe it was the weather. I got a little frustrated with Pony and ended up actually tying him to finish (I haven't tied him in ages, although he does well with being tied). I think I mentioned, my goal is to pick everyone's hooves every time I bring them in, whether I ride them or not. Their pasture is really nasty, and they don't need to have all sorts of bacteria, fungi, and germs in there for days at a time.

We had to ride in the covered (dressage) arena because of the drizzle, which meant no pole work and no interesting patterns, but we worked on simple lead changes instead. I was so impressed -- Pony got it right every single time. We had done some other work before, including cantering circles in each direction, and he hadn't consistently gotten the correct lead, but with the simple lead changes he did. We ran him through four cycles, and after the last one, both the instructor and I thought he had done so well that he should just be finished. So I was super, super happy with him.

The other pony was working on flying lead changes. He kept super speeding up when asked for one. The instructor said it was because when they were teaching him to do it at first, he always wanted to break to a trot for the lead change, so they always smacked him to keep him going, so now when he's asked for the lead change he takes off. :eek_color:

On a different note, I have to get some boots for Moonshine. We all (me, daughter, Pony, Moonshine) enjoy having lessons out in the pasture, but after looking at her XRays, I have decided that she's only going to be ridden in the soft arena until she gets boots. The pasture has gnarly stubble in places. I'm putting Keratex on her, too. That's what I'm doing to make her comfortable. Now I need to figure out how to actually build some sole. I'm hoping that keeping up on her trimming will help. I'm reading that booting can help as well. I'll keep researching. It seems like everyone who knows what they are talking about stresses the importance of sole depth, but not a lot of people have concrete steps to take to achieve it.

Also. When I got there this morning, the other person in my lesson, who is also the barn manager, was asking me about signs of colic. So I told her all of the signs I knew and asked her why. She was like, "Well, I should just know, if I'm going to be barn manager" (she was a regular boarder before). But then she said she was worried about her lease horse. He was down and didn't really want to get up. She said he had been nosing at his flanks and tossing his head as well. But she thought, even though he was sitting down, that he looked calm and not in pain. I took a look at him and thought otherwise, but I didn't want to worry her, and the barn owner was about to be out there anyways. Eventually the barn owner thought he was having a mild colic and gave him banamine and had this lady walk him around for a bit. I'm sorry that he colicked, but I feel good that I was right about his expression. It's good to know that I can maybe tell. The odd thing to me was that after the banamine and short walk, they just put him back in his stall and left. I would have thought they'd want him in a paddock where he could walk around, but maybe I'm wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #142 (Edited)
Bareback!

I finally got on Teddy yesterday. It was March, last time I rode him. I stopped because he was having physical problems that I couldn’t figure out, to the point where it was interfering with his movement, and I didn't want to keep riding him in those circumstances. I have since learned that he has uneven body development, and also his saddle was a terrible fit. So I didn’t want to ride him until I got a saddle that fit. Also, it was a hot summer, and even riding Pony twice a week was really more than I wanted to do. Anyways, yesterday was the first time I’d gotten on him in about half a year. I put a bareback pad on him. I was kind of worried. He’s not one of those “throw ‘em out in the pasture for a month and they’ll come back just the same” types, plus he’s just naturally anxious, with that fun explosive anxiety. So we took it slowly. Step one: he remember how to put the bit in his mouth. Step two: he actually seemed pretty interested in going over to the arena, yay! Step three: he lined up nicely at the mounting block. Step four: he stood nicely. Step five: he stayed in place after I got on. Step six: he sort of went where I asked him in the arena. This was kind of hard because there were some other horses sticking their heads into the arena so I couldn’t just ride him around the rail like I had hoped (he likes rails; they are a safe place for him, because he understands the rules about them). We had to do a fair amount of circles. Overall I think he did pretty well. I only rode him for 10-15 minutes, and only at a walk.

One thing that I noticed was that riding him bareback felt WEIRD. Really weird. I hadn’t ridden anyone bareback in months, so I wasn’t sure if it was him or me. So I got Pony and rode him bareback, too. I decided to ride him in just a halter and lead rope, bareback, because, well, we can. He was actually not too excited about working, but he did what I wanted really nicely. And he didn’t feel weird, although I personally felt a little awkward. So it was definitely Teddy, and not me. I’m not sure what, if anything, this tells me. I’ve only ridden Pony for the last six months, so of course any other horse is going to feel different.

Moonshine had a lesson that afternoon, which was why we were out there in the first place. After I put Pony away and finished a couple of things, I went to check on her. Moonshine did AMAZING. They were cantering in the jumping arena. The other two girls were cantering and doing a series of jumps, but my daughter was just cantering (we will not jump Moonshine; she will need to ride Teddy if she wants to jump). They were cantering circles around all of the jumps. Some of the circles were 10-meter circles. Except at the end on her bad lead, Moonshine picked up the correct lead each time, stayed in gait, and stayed fairly collected. I was really impressed.

Anyways, all of this together added up to me suggesting to our instructor that we have a bareback lesson today and kind of take it easy. Moonshine worked really hard last night, and I didn’t want to just put her back into another hard lesson. As for me, I felt like it’s been a while since I’ve ridden bareback and I probably should do more of it. Also, that true beginner seems to be stuck in our lesson, so it evens things out a bit more if we’re bareback.

I learned that I remembered how to post bareback, which is good, but it was also tiring. I also remembered sitting trot (pretty easy on Pony with his small step). I was pretty sure we wouldn’t canter, since I hadn’t ridden bareback in so long, but by the end of the lesson I was ready to give it a shot. I only cantered him on his good lead, but OMG I had forgotten how amazing it is to canter him bareback. I swear, it is easier than cantering with a saddle. His motion kind of sucks me up right behind his withers, which is his center of rotation , I guess, so it’s just super super smooth. I forget how the saddle puts me in sort of a weird position with him. I wonder if it’s because his back is so short? I can never find the motion and relax in the saddle, but I did great today. Or maybe it’s because bareback I can more easily sort of slip back and forth and thus stay with the motion? I don’t know what it is, but it was amazing.

My daughter was really happy with Moonshine, too. It seems that she remembered that she should have a slower trot when ridden bareback. They tried to canter a couple of times. The first time was OK, and the second time Moonshine just wasn’t having it. I felt like it was good enough, since she had had a hard lesson the night before. My daughter and I were both really stoked with our bareback lesson, and we want more!

There was a lady and her daughter there today, I guess maybe to look into lessons? Teddy was loose out there and the daughter was obviously trying to interact with him, so I called the mother over during a lull in the lesson and told her I had cookies in my car and they were welcome to feed him. Teddy is super respectful about taking treats. So they did that, and then the daughter loved on him a lot. He’s not overly fond of being loved on, but he was good. It was nice to share some horse love with someone.

After all of this bareback stuff, I realized that I hadn’t thought about using the lesson saddles for Teddy, at least temporarily. I picked out one that seems to fit him OK, so I’ll ask the barn owner if that would be OK and then post pictures here. He tends to change shape a lot when he’s in work, so if I could ride him now in a saddle that fits him now, and then buy him a saddle when he’s bulked up a bit, that would be great. Finally, I reinforced him taking the bit a few times. His bridle has gotten stiff from not being used, so I brought it home to oil.

Oh, and…. Today of all days, I forgot to do my stretches in the morning. I was already sore when I got off Pony (he’s so round) and I’m sure it’s going to be bad tomorrow. Oh well, I don’t mind. We had a great time. It was a wonderful horse day.
 
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Discussion Starter #143
I'm sorry that I was proud of myself for calling that horse's colic. I mean, it wouldn't have made any difference, but he was PTS a few days ago. Unfortunately, they apparently weren't able to find anyone to come get the body, so they left it under a tarp near the back of the main part of the property. That spot is about halfway down the most direct path from our horses' pasture and our barn. They were NOT happy. It was two days after the fact that I went out there and let them in, and even to my sub-par hooman nose, there was a smell. I almost wonder if they wouldn't have been happier if the body had been uncovered, because at least then it would be clear what it was. As far as they were concerned, this was a tarp that had finally done what they always expected a tarp to do, to namely eat a horse. Even BTDT Moonshine was unsettled -- she deliberately chose to stay close to Pony, I suppose for protection (he DOES protect her) even though it's usually him following her around.

When we went out today, the body had finally been removed. But surprisingly they had left the tarp. I think the horses liked that even less than the body being there. Because the smell was still there, and now the tarp had MOVED. They made the same detour around the spot as they had before. I was pretty impressed to see that after a while Pony went over there and sniffed everything really carefully. He is a brave Pony.

The bodyworker came out yesterday. Somehow I hadn't thought, when I made the appointment, about how we're not supposed to ride them the day after. We had a lesson today. What we ended up doing was my daughter riding Moonshine bareback at a really slow walk, here and there, just working on teaching her to neck rein. I rode Teddy. We got there early so my instructor was able to work with me and Teddy for a while before the regular lesson. He did really well. I was really happy with how calm he was. Except for after the first good trot, he felt really relaxed. I also rode him past the mirror a few times and looked at his face, and I couldn't see any whites in his eyes. He's one of those horses where you can always see the whites of his eyes, or at least I always thought he was, but the longer I've had him the less whites you can see. I think it's because his anxiety keeps dropping.

He did really well with serpentines and broken lines. We did a little trotting, and although he wanted to shuffle trot at first, I got a good bouncy "Teddy trot" out of him as well. I had forgotten how nice it is to ride a more naturally forward horse. We only trotted for maybe a minute. The instructor said if I want to get him back into shape, then I should plan out what I'm going to do every ride, and increase the total time and also the total trotting time each time. So I will do that. She was impressed at how well he did, given how long he's been sitting. I honestly believe it's because we have a relationship and he trusts me. I'm not sure he would have done so well with someone else.

I will say that the barn owner (his old owner) still makes him nervous. She was near the arena fence, and every time he passed her he tried to speed up.

Afterwards, Pony indicated that he's like to do some trick training, so we did. After a while, Teddy also wanted to get involved, so I tried to work on them both at the same time. I was a little afraid there might be some bickering, but there wasn't.
 

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Discussion Starter #144 (Edited)
I thought this would be a brief post since I just posted yesterday, but it's not. Sorry. I've been out there a lot this week. I don't know why, but it's been especially nice spending time with them lately.

I rode Teddy bareback again. I used the nice thick bareback pad we have, and a thick wool wither release pad, and then a regular saddle pad under that, just like you would if the bareback pad had been a saddle. It reduced the pressure of his spine on my nether regions, and hopefully reduced the pressure of my butt on his back. It did feel bulky, though. I think I will probably keep doing it that way, since he's under-muscled back there right now and I think he needs the protection.

He did really well again. His trot seems like it's maybe the same in both directions right now, but we didn't do a ton of trotting. It was 25 minutes of mostly walking and some trotting.

I wasn't going to ride Pony at all, but he was totally full of beans today. I think it's because I didn't ride him yesterday. Since there was a lesson going on out in the pasture I decided to ride him out there and watch. I rode him in the bareback pad and just with a halter and lead rope. He did really well, too. He had no problems walking out there by himself, for once. Once we got stopped where I wanted to be, I held him for a minute then dropped the "reins" really dramatically on his back, as a signal that he could graze. He was pretty happy. I didn't tie them together well enough, though, and I lost one of them. But I got his head up with the other one and then was able to lean forward and take the dropped one from the halter. His short neck came in handy!

I cantered him back. It was great. Cantering in a saddle, I keep thinking about everything I'm doing or supposed to be doing, and it's a lot of work. Cantering bareback, I feel free. I just felt like we were flying along together. Then when I asked for him to slow back to a trot, he had no problem (he had also had no problem picking up the canter). Then back to a walk. It was sort of a test, to see how he'd do with the halter and lead rope, and he did great. Particularly since it was on the way back "home;" but he had no problems slowing back down. Then I had to stop and get some jumper cables, while I was still on him, and I just sort of draped them over his back and held them with one hand and the reins with the other. He had no problems at all. He's a great Pony -- I feel like I won the pony lottery.

We did some trick training afterwards. I'm trying to teach him to line himself up with objects so I can easily mount from anywhere, and it's been surprisingly slow going. Right now we are only up to him moving his butt to one side if I tap the side with the whip, and generally only if I'm on that side. If I'm on one side and tap the other side to scoot his butt toward me, he doesn't really understand. I may need to enlist the help of my daughter on this one. But we ended the session on a good note.

I just want to repeat what I said in the last post about Teddy's eye whites. I don't know how I hadn't really noticed this before -- I really only see the whites now when he's turning to look at something that's close by and he's trying to focus on it. I'm really happy that I've been able to help him.

It was another "yay day."
 
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I think you would probably really like a treeless saddle since you like riding bareback and have good bareback horses.

It is great hearing how well your horses are doing. They're lucky you have them now.
 

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Discussion Starter #146
I galloped today! But not on purpose. We had a field lesson, and all those beans Pony had been full of were still there. He was ready to go! We did a lot of cantering, but it was at this one point where there was a Scary Object, that the wind suddenly gusted and my visor blew off. Wow! I know horses gallop, but I've never seen Pony do it. It was like he had a whole other gear, which I guess is what galloping is really. I gave him a few strong half halts and got him back down to a canter, and then a trot. He did calm down pretty quickly. I also opened and closed the gate from him, which is kind of hard because of the way the chain and lock are set up. It's the first time I've opened AND closed it from him. That was good.

So... less good. I really strongly disagree with many of the things the barn owner (who is also one of the instructors) does. I understand that people can have differences of opinions, and there are some things she does where I'm like, "I don't think that's a good idea" (to myself, obviously) but ultimately it's her call and not my horses, so it isn't any of my business. But there are things she does that are, IMO, downright bad. Harmful. Physically and mentally. I'm not the only one who thinks so -- I've talked to several people who have left and they all volunteered similar things. I mean, there's a reason she still makes Teddy nervous to this day. However, I stand up for my horses and when she wants me to do something with / to them that I strongly disagree with, I tell her no; and so this doesn't affect me directly. But even watching it makes me feel bad. Sometimes I wonder how long I can stay at this barn. It's great in many ways: my horses are on pasture 24/7 and also have stalls, and the set-up is pretty nice, and it's only a 20-minute drive from my house. And THEY aren't being harmed. And, the trainer who puts rides on Pony is great -- she and I are 100% on the same page about developing him. If I just never had to listen to the barn owner tell people what to do to their horses, I'd be fine. I guess I need to work on not being around her as much.
 

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Discussion Starter #147
People say that horses have good memories, and I am getting a sense of this with Teddy. Before this week, I hadn’t ridden him since at least March, or maybe the end of February. But one of the first things he wanted to do when I got on him again was to drop his head into contact. He had never done that before we spent months working on it with him last winter/spring, and praising him for it. Then he learned that dropping his head was a “Good boy Teddy” thing, and a Good Thing, and the Right Thing to do, so he just always wanted to do it. And that’s exactly where he started off when I started riding him again this week. He just kept wanting to drop his head down. You wouldn’t have thought he’s been sitting in the pasture for seven months. It was pretty cool!

We had “Fall Fest” today at my barn. It’s basically a Halloween party, but they couldn’t get everything together in time, so they had it today. We also had our lesson in the morning.

Every horse was grumpy: Pony, Moonshine, and Perfect Lesson Pony (PLP). In fact later in the day, I saw PLP appear to try to kick the rider who was getting on her, although surely I must have misunderstood. Maybe she was just kicking at a fly the exact moment the kid got on her. Anyways, Pony was terrible. He didn’t want to move. He didn’t want to do anything I asked. When I cantered him, he was super counter-bent like he used to be several months ago. He also seemed super tired even before we started the lesson. I got on him early to see how he’d do with a rope being swung around/over him. He could not have cared one bit. He barely flicked an ear at the rope. He just put his head down near the ground like he was pooped and stayed there. It was kind of weird, when you think of how overly-energetic he had been earlier in the week. Luckily we had a pretty easy lesson, so he didn’t really have to do any work. He won’t be ridden again until Tuesday; hopefully he will be feeling better by then.

Then we hung out for a while until it was time for Fall Fest. My daughter got Moonshine’s costume in good working order, and I worked on Pony’s stuff. I had some zinc oxide to put around his feet for “socks” and for his snip and star, as I was dressing him up as the other black pony in their pasture. But it turns out that zinc oxide doesn’t turn a black horse white, it just turns them sort of blue. His face was more white, but his legs were definitely bluish. Oh well, it was still funny to me.

So, maybe this was not too smart of me, but I decided to do the costume contest bareback and with him just in the halter and lead rope (actually the way I do it is to clip one lead rope to each side of his halter for “reins.” I say maybe it was wrong because there were a lot more people there than I had expected, and dogs, and activity. I wanted to do it so he could graze while I was still on him. He was OK, though. He particularly didn’t like this one little kid who kept zooming his baby sibling around in a stroller. I guess Pony had never seen a stroller before. He didn’t freak out or anything, but he definitely kept a close eye on it.

However, really, he was great. Here is something I did that I realized later was stupid. Last time I rode him like this, I lost a “rein” because they weren’t tied together, and it just slipped out of my hand and dropped on the ground. I didn’t want that to happen this time so I tied them together. I thought this was smart until he somehow got his foot through one of them. Luckily I quickly untied them so he wouldn’t get caught up. Then with the one “rein” that was still in the right place, I pulled his head up and asked him to back up. I was hoping he’d step back over the other rein. He did back up, which was great, given that I was only asking with one side of the halter (plus my body and voice) but he couldn’t get out of the other rein. Luckily my husband was there so I called him over and he fixed it for me. But I won’t tie the reins again. Better for me to lose a rein than for him to get caught up in them and hurt himself.

So, he was pretty good with the crowd. It was also a really windy day. Everyone in the costume class got a big ribbon, and my daughter wanted me to hold Moonshine’s for her. So I just clipped them to his bareback saddle, and even though they were flapping around like crazy and the wind was blowing and that kid was still racing around with the stroller, he was fine. Not perfectly fine, but definitely good enough.

My daughter was also really happy with Moonshine. Once she got over the indignity of wearing a hat that made her look super cute (see picture), she was fine with it. Even though the wind was blowing and she was trotting and the hat was flapping all over her. Not to mention, the worst part, she could not effectively pin her ears at the other horses.

After all of that, they were going to do carriage rides. I offered to help the lady who was doing them, since she didn’t have anyone else there, and I was hanging out watching her harness her horse. I ended up holding the horse for her while she attached her to the carriage. This is a Clydesdale. She was overall pretty good, but a little more antsy being attached to the carriage than I would have expected. I guess I expected a draft horse to just stand there, but she wanted to scooch around. That’s when I realized – she is a REALLY big horse, LOL. With ginormous feet, too. But she was pretty good.

What I was really waiting for was for Pony to see the carriage in motion. He has never seen anything like that before, so I wasn’t sure how he’d react. Ultimately, it was a little disappointing. At first, before the carriage started moving, he stood there with me, watching, but obviously bored. But when it started going, he was definitely interested: “Ooh, I didn’t expect DAT to happen!” Very interested, but not at all worried. Later I saw the carriage going down the long gravel driveway, and the horses in that pasture were just going nuts. So I’m pretty please with his reaction. I had hoped to walk him along it while it was moving, but we ended up having to leave a little early so I didn’t.

Teddy also did well, considering everything that was going on. He just basically stayed in the area around our barn. He never seemed worried, but he wasn’t interested in getting any closer to the activities.
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Discussion Starter #148 (Edited)
The "pony pasture" contains most of the ponies at my barn, plus Moonshine (poor Moonshine, she hates being lumped in with common ponies when she is most definitely a HORSE), and the two mini donkeys. The mini donkeys are very clever and have developed the ability to teleport. What I mean is, they love to escape and cause havoc. Let's say you are going to put your pony (or horse, Moonshine) back in the pasture. You scan the pasture and determine that the donkeys are on the other side. So you lead your horse through and take a minute to give him/her a hug (yes, sorry, horses, you have to deal with getting hugged). In the minute, I mean really just maybe 30 seconds, that it takes to do that, the donkeys teleport over to the gate and then run out.

The donkeys are not halter broke. They don't have any sort of training, so wrangling them back into the pasture takes lots of people, lots of feed, and lots of time. After the last time (which was not our fault, just sayin') I just got sick of it. I thought, "I could halter break those guys and then this wouldn't happen." But I don't really have time. I mean, I go out there to do stuff with my guys, not to train other people's animals. On the other hand, I've never halter trained anyone and I thought it would be interesting to do. But back to the time thing. So I had a great idea -- I told the barn owner I'd halter train them in exchange for some extra lessons. She agreed. She was like, "Name your price -- I am so tired of having to wrangle them back in!"

The donkeys aren't trained to do anything, but they are smart and relatively friendly, and they know a good thing when they see it. So I thought I'd go out there today and see how they felt about the whole halter thing. I took everything in really small steps, with rewards, and within maybe 15 minutes I could get the halter on one of them, and halfway on the other. I probably could have gotten it on the other one too, but this one pony in the pasture decided that he wanted in on the action, so I cut off the training. Next time I want to get them in the round pen so we can not have any interruptions. I was really pleased with how well that went. I did just use Moonshine's halter, so I didn't actually clip it up because it didn't fit. I will need to get them their own halters. Next time I work with them, I hope to be able to halter them both. I was actually really surprised how quickly everything went. I don't think they have been haltered before, since they acted kind of confused about it at first.

The part that I think will be challenging for me will be to time my release just right when I'm starting to apply pressure to lead. I need to think through my steps, too. But if they pick it up as quickly as they picked up having the halter put on, then I will have come out ahead with my deal, which I didn't really expect. But we'll see.

ETA: regardless, I'm not going to rush anything. I don't believe in rushing horses (or, I guess, donkeys). I will just take it at whatever speed they are comfortable with.
 

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Good luck with the donkeys. I've done a little training with a donkey. I'd say the hard part will be convincing the donkeys to go where you ask once they are haltered. 😄
 

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Discussion Starter #150
Good luck with the donkeys. I've done a little training with a donkey. I'd say the hard part will be convincing the donkeys to go where you ask once they are haltered. 😄
That's what I'm thinking, too. They are smart. They'll understand what is being asked, but they'll be like, "Why should I?" However, even if someone still has to bribe them with grain, I think it will be better if they are haltered and understand what's being asked of them. Right now, they get out, and half the people get upset and start chasing them around and half of the people try to bribe them with grain. It gets them all worked up and makes it take that much longer to get them back in the pasture. I figure if someone has some grain and someone has them on a halter, they will probably go. We'll see!
 

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Discussion Starter #152
That's a really nice picture. Moonshine is SUPER CUTE in her hat. How do you get it to stay on? It looks like it's attached to the halter maybe?

Good luck with the donkeys!
Thank you! Yes, we tied it to the halter on one side, then ran the string under her throatlatch, and tied it on the other side. When it was time for the riding part, we did the same thing with her bridle. It stayed on really well.

The things horses put up with from us!
 

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Discussion Starter #153 (Edited)
I haven’t had time to work with the donkeys. I will update with any progress (or lack thereof) once I do.

For our weekend lesson, my husband’s sister came. She just wanted to do something horsey. We will let her ride on Thanksgiving. She rode Moonshine once before and it didn’t go too well, but I think this time will be better because we’re going to be really clear about everything.

My husband came out as well. I’ve mentioned before, I think, that he doesn’t like Pony very much. Pony is too much of an independent thinker for him, you know? But I had a change to show off Pony’s willingness. Pony likes to get into the hay barn (it has no door, so it’s not like it’s that hard) and eat the hay there. I don’t like him to do it, because they store the hay on pallets but there are usually a couple of empty pallets in the front, and I’m afraid he will step through one of them and hurt himself. Anyways, I was standing with my husband and SIL about 30 feet from the hay barn and he started to go in. So I said “Po-NEE!” in my Pony mom voice, and he looked at me and said, “Well geez,” and backed out again. I told my husband, “See, he’s a good pony.”

Now, about half an hour after that I was riding Teddy in the arena. I had left Pony in a sort of back corner of the property where there is some green grass (we’ve had two months of no rain so most of the grass and even the weeds is long dead) and I figured he’d stay there. But about 10 minutes into my Teddy ride, the barn owner told me, “He’s getting into the stalls again.” So I had to send my husband over there to get him and put him in his little paddock. My husband was like, “Hah, he’s going into time out.” So much for showing him how good Pony can be.

I am working on a theory. My theory is that ponies think of themselves are predators, and their food is their prey. And they LIKE to hunt. Evidence 1: As I said, I don’t like Pony to go into that barn because I’m afraid he might get hurt. So I took some hay from there – THE EXACT HAY HE WANTED TO EAT – and put it outside the barn so he wouldn’t have to go in. He gave it a couple of nibbles and then looked at me as if to say, “Why would I eat this?” and walked away. Evidence 2: His “rounds.” Now that there isn’t much green grass, he goes on “rounds” when he’s in. He goes in and out of all of the outdoor stalls to find whatever feed the horses in there have left. Basically he just ends up licking their buckets, which is also not great, so I have to go and get him out of there. But my point is, I think he likes to hunt for his food. Evidence 3: even given a nice stall with good hay in it, he will often get bored and go out in search of something more interesting. More challenging prey, I think.

I hurt my ankle hiking yesterday. It was a long, fairly difficult hike, but I turned my ankle while walking on the part of it that’s just a nice gravel road. :rolleyes: So, anyways, I rode in the bareback pad today because my ankle is still a little tender and I didn’t want to use stirrups. At the canter, the saddle pad scooched way forward. I was having to hold my hands on his neck while cantering, to push myself back. Both the saddle pad and I ended up in front of his withers. Coincidentally, this girl was there who is one of the barn owner’s long-time riders and has put training riders on horses and taught lessons as well. So the barn owner asked her to get on to see if the same thing happened to her (usually I don’t let the barn owner put someone else on Pony during one of my lessons, although she’s tried; if he’s acting up I feel like I need to be the one to sort it out. But in this case the issue wasn’t him acting up, it was me ending up so forward on him). It did.

But what I got out of it was, this girl does NOT know how to treat ponies (or, at least, Pony). And she used to put training rides on him! Basically she just went in there with all guns blazing, demanding instant and total obedience, and Pony wasn’t having it. She couldn’t even get him up to the mounting block at first because she just tried to pull him along. He KNOWS he can out-pull a hooman. And she just demanded his canter, and then he bucked. I only have the one Pony, but I can tell you – you need to ASK him, not DEMAND. If you ask him, he will do it. If you demand, he will refuse. It’s that simple.

ETA I was just thinking about how her approach wouldn't even be good for Teddy. Teddy just wants to please so much. But if you went in there with guns blazing just demanding obedience with everything you have, he'd probably shut down. Then of course, the person would respond by getting even louder, and he'd shut down even more. Eventually he'd have all he could take and start rearing. And he'd be labeled as "bad" when all it was was someone not taking the time to make their request in a nice way.

Speaking of Teddy, he did well in his ride last time. His trot was much more easy than it had been – more relaxed and swinging. I wonder if he’s starting to realize that since he’s not in a saddle, he doesn’t have to feel so restricted. It’s possible that the first few trots we had done, last week, he still had the muscle memory from an ill-fitting saddle. Maybe he’s loosening up a bit. I didn’t ride him today. Hopefully I will on Thanksgiving when we're out there.
 
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My husband took the plan for my SIL to come out and ride today and turned it into a Thanksgiving picnic. He ordered a whole turkey from somewhere. It was kind of funny – it was an Indian restaurant I guess, and he chose the “tandoori turkey” which was basically turkey with a tikka masala rub. It smelled really good, and apparently it tasted pretty good, too. I don’t really eat meat, so I don’t know. It was just kind of funny. I am including a picture of us. Teddy is there because I had given him a little dessert and he was hoping for more. My daughter took it so she wasn’t in it. I do have to say, Thanksgiving with horses is nice! Better than being crowded in the in-laws houses and hearing my in-laws talking bad about everyone.

I was going to put SIL on Pony, since he is more resilient than Moonshine, but he was acting kind of jumpy again today so I didn’t. I had my daughter ride him, SIL on Moonshine, and me on Teddy (still bareback). SIL wanted to do a trail ride first and then maybe ride in the arena, so we did. I rode Teddy in the lead for the first part. Teddy does NOT like being ridden out in the pasture, at all. It is way out of his comfort zone. But I thought it wouldn’t be too bad since he was in his own pasture with his friends. Once we were about to cross to the back of the pasture, though, he was really not liking it so I sent my daughter and Pony in front. That was fine. Pony was having a great time and didn’t care if he was leading or in the back or whatever. He was just like “Hoi!” (that’s how he says “hi”). But we went around the same way a second time and I had Teddy be in the lead the whole time. He wasn’t happy about it, but he did it. He did a lot better with the second lap, but he was still worked up. After we went into the arena he needed some cool down time.

My daughter and I watched SIL ride Moonshine. I asked daughter how she thought they did, and she said “About as well as could be expected.” I thought the same. Moonshine was great out in the pasture (it’s her happy place) but hauled SIL around all over the arena. She even cantered on her (SIL did NOT ask for the canter), which was surprising given that she doesn’t really like to canter in the arena. It later happened that SIL sat on Pony bareback while I led him around. She said that riding him bareback was more comfortable than riding Moonshine in a saddle. It’s true. Riding Pony bareback, it’s like you’ve got a gel cushion under your butt.

After that, my husband hadn’t come out with the turkey yet, so I offered to show SIL some tricks that Pony could do. She was like, “He’s just like a dog!” and was very impressed. I offered her to try to signal him to do some of the tricks, but that didn’t go too well. She was really jerky in her movements and it made him jump. I thought I’d remind him of the trick we were trying, so I signaled him, and he nipped me! I’m sure he was kind of worked up and confused by what she had done, but still. Luckily I had my whip, so I thwacked him on the butt real good then ran him around for about 10 seconds, hard. I didn’t know he could gallop in the dressage arena LOL!

But, the point of all of this was, after that 10 seconds I released the pressure and just let him go, and he downshifted into what I honestly believe was the most beautiful canter I have ever seen in my life, from any horse. You would have thought he was floating, his feet didn’t seem to touch the ground at all. It was slow, collected, and floaty. Wow. It was just amazingly gorgeous. If he could canter with me on his back like that, we would win every award everywhere.
Anyways, not surprisingly, after that he decided he was done with trick training, which was fine. I put him in the back of the open area where he could graze without getting into mischief. And of course, we are still friends. That’s one thing that makes him so easy – you can punish him and he just bounces right back.

Oh, the donkeys. Their halters came. The website I bought them from sells nothing but mink donkey stuff and is called minidonks.com I think; but the actual business name, apparently (from my Paypal receipt) is half-*** farms, LOL. Anyways, the halters were a little on the small side, but they did fit. I got one all the way on the one donkey (wow, it’s really different getting those donkey ears tucked down into the halter than horse ears). He was not entirely happy about it, and that’s when I thought, “What if he genuinely freaks out?” I mean, if he started really freaking out, then I wouldn’t be able to get the halter back off again, and it’s not a breakaway either. So I quickly took it off. I did put it on him one more time and he was more OK with it. The other donkey, the one I couldn’t even get the halter over his nose before, I now got the halter halfway onto his face. So I think that was pretty good. This was all in less than 10 minutes.
 

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