Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Herd Hieracrchy and How it Effects Personality

This question was raised a couple of times recently on the GHS message board, and it seemed to be perfect timing, as I’d been pondering why all of a sudden things are finally connecting with me and G. At least it seems like it’s all happening at once. When I mentioned that G was a different horse, I was asked “how so”.   So I pondered....

Prior to our barn move back in April, G lived his day time hours in a paddock by himself, with horses on either side of him and across the aisle way between rows. At night he spent his time behind bars with only the view of the highway in the back and the two horses across the aisle from him. During those 6 years, as much as I worked on bettering our communication, G always had to challenge things. Some times it wasn’t a direct challenge or at first request challenge, but in the course of working it would arise. I chalked it up to G being the personality that he was, and since I was continually maintaining the passive leader role, what other explanation could there be?

Since we moved G to the new barn this April, he lives in a herd of five geldings during the day, with a mixed herd of six in one adjoining pasture, and a mare herd of six on the other side. He is the #3 horse in his herd, and he appears to be content where he’s positioned as he never challenges #1 or #2. At night he is stalled but the set up here is quite different. He has an open stall door where he can hang his head out into the aisle way and see the comings and goings as well as any other horse that happens to be “hanging out”. Now the back of his stall houses a double dutch door, which leads out to a nice sized turnout. During the summer and most of this fall, he has been able to come and go from his stall at night and play with his best buddy Irish over the fence rail. Within a month G started to become a different horse in small ways. He's more trusting on the trail; calmer; is loading nicely in the trailer; responding faster to my requests and cues and overall a much more relaxed horse. He’s even happy to come to me when I arrive at the pasture, which is something I was sure I would lose once he had pasture to graze upon and buddies to play with.

So my conclusions over all this  is that when G was paddocked by himself, even though he had horses on either side of him, that he was the boss of his herd of one. So when I showed up at the barn, he would continue to try and maintain that position in our herd of two. Now that he's #3 horse in a herd of 5, I think that this has taken a little of the wind out of his sails so to speak.  He's learned that if he doesn't challenge the #1 or #2 horses he has quite the content life right where he's at. Now as I maintain my status as #1 in our herd of two he doesn't feel the need to challenge it any more. So maybe I’m reading too much into this, maybe not. But whatever “it” is, I’ll happily take it because this reward just seems so grand in our 7.5 year journey.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stewards of the Animals

Yesterday I received a message from a fellow horsewoman so poignantly written, that it got me to thinking (such a dangerous thing). In it she stated that we as horse(wo)men should see ourselves as the stewards of the animals whom we bring into our lives. I believe in this statement, and I (we) also believe that others should do the same. When we see something happening with another horse person that goes against all that we feel is in the best interest of the animal over the course of 7.5 years repeating itself over and over, do we stay silent and let it pass, or do we stand up and make our feelings known? Even when we know that our thoughts will be construed as a personal attack by others, no matter how worded?

I am by no means a perfect human being and have never professed to be one. But there are some things I do know. Like knowing the difference between what is good for a horse’s psyche and what is damaging, and understanding that there are basic steps in looking for our lifetime equine partner. Knowing enough that if I were to make a mistake in that process that I would need to review my prior actions and rechart the course for the next time, not simply repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Horses are not shoes that are tossed aside if they pinch a little. They are not perfect beings, even the best of them. If a person isn’t willing to put a true effort and time into them, they will receive nothing in return. My friend Beeswood’s favorite saying is “Show me your horse and I’ll tell you who you are” and it has become one of my favs too, because it is so true. We leave our marks on our horse’s behaviors and personalities, as they do on ours. Just as we do with our children, they are, in most instances, a reflection of the effort we put forth.

God blessed me with more common sense than book smarts, and although at a few times in my life this has bothered me, today as I see many highly intelligent humans making serious errors in judgment over and over again, I thank God for the gift that he gave to me and I will never question his decision again.

So truly when is enough enough? How many horses should one person go through in 7.5 years searching for their lifetime partner? And how does one know a particular horse is their heart horse in the first 30 days and then have a change of heart and decide its unsuitable 90-120-250 days later? And most of all when you see someone go through 7-8 (I’ve honestly lost track) horses in this time span; should you stay silent when another is sent packing back to the seller or remain an enabler? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ride for the Cure 2010 - 10/3/10

This past Sunday began with the alarm clock going off at 6:00 a.m.  UGH!  We hopped out of bed, quickly dressed, ate a quick breakfast and got ready to roll.  My big sister Susie came over at 7:00 and we loaded up the car and headed to the barn.  Susie was excited to see a few of the horses hanging around in their runouts so early....
Barn owner's horse Tristen

G getting his breakfast in bed :) 

We'd hooked the truck up to the trailer Saturday night so we could quietly roll into the farm and quietly roll out.  Surprisingly G loaded up quickly and at 7:38 we were on our way to Pomfret CT, which is called "the Quiet Corner".  I've actually never visited this town and hope to go back one day soon as it seemed like a lovely community.  Based on the amount of BMW's,  Mercedes and Lexus vehicles we saw in the center, I have a feeling its a bit of a pricey community too.  

Anyhowzer, our destination was Tyrone Farm which is host to the 10th Anniversary of the Komen CT Ride for the Cure. 

Breast Cancer has been an important cause to my family, as my big sister Susie who joined us today is celebrating her 10 year anniversary of being cancer free (first ovarian then breast cancer).  Today we were riding to honor my sister Susie and it was special to have her with us.  But kick me now cause do you think either one of us thought to ask hubby to take our picture together?  Duh!

We passed the equestrian facilities where the big rigs were parked and were directed about 1/2 mile up to a large field that sits across the road from the house and barn in the picture above.  About two rows of trailers came in after this picture was taken...

Getting G ready to go....all the while hubby is saying "ahhh man, he's a boy horse, poor thing"
Rider up and ready to rock 'n roll with my Glam Rockin' Tennessee Walking Horse!
While waiting our turn for the professional photographer we snapped some pics of other riders and their horses.  It was so neat to see horse's and riders in all sorts of shades of pink and to see how far some would go to "pink it out".  Some of the best I saw were out on the trail when I couldn't get my camera out.  And then there were some that didn't have any fun with it at all.  I guess I'm just a big kid!


The trails traversed meadows and fields; through Tyrone Farm's cross-country courses and through the woods in between them all.  

I'm guessing it was about 10 miles in total which I covered in about 2 hours with a couple of rest stops which came equipped with porta pottys, water for horse and rider and a live lawn jockey....

G was quite high headed to start the ride, and it lasted about 15-20 minutes of continuous half halts, leg yields, one rein stops, etc. to try and get his head back on me rather than the horses out in front of him.  He hates, absolutely hates to have horses out in front of him unless his head is about touching their tail.  Since I won't allow that, I get to ride the prancing pony who can almost do a canter in place!  I finally worked him in one of the fields doing circles until the horses disappeared from view.  Once he couldn't see them any more he went back to being the relaxed horse he is when we ride alone or with one other horse.    With his big walking horse stride it didn't take long until we caught up to the groups ahead of us.  I asked if they would mind if we passed and no one objected which was great.  We spent about an hour basically riding in the woods all by ourselves, it was absolutely beautiful and a peaceful way to spend a Sunday.  I was really surprised at the amount of stone walls and foundations out in the middle of the woods.  It made you wonder what it looked like back in the 1800's.  
While we were standing here soaking in the quiet, I realized that no one had taken a close up picture of G in his bridle.  Now that he had on his ribbon honoring my big sis I thought it would be a great time to take one.  I'm know I'm biased, but isn't he handsome?

These woods were gorgeous and they led us deeper into the forest into a private hunting preserve.  When we turned the corner we came upon this sign....uh oh!

Now it's a damn good thing that G does not know how to read, cause at this point if he did, he woulda lost it right then and there and he would've been galloping through the forest all the while yelling "I told ya so, I told ya those trees would eat me!"

While we were out on the trail, hubby and Susie had set up a small table up at the barn to sell bridle charms.  They were supposed to be inside the barn but I didn't find out until after I got back that they stuck them and the lady selling t-shirts outside in the cold (not happy).  Here's pictures they took up at the "event" barn.  Events being, weddings, anniversary parties etc.

Here's our Too'Shay leather cross that Kysa made special for our ride.
This was our first time riding in this or any fund raising event, and I have to say it was not only rewarding, but a lot of fun.  It doesn't hurt that it is a cause near and dear to my heart either.  I love my sister Susie, the little things she does for me.  Like to take a picture of this for my scrapbook :)
I was extremely pleased to have raised $625 for the event!  Many wonderful people by way of monetary donations, bridle charm and other sales, exceeded my expectations.  My goal was originally $500 so this was a nice bonus!  The last posted dollar amount on the Susan Komen CT site was on Friday and dollar amount raised at that point was over $85,000 !!  Wonderful.

And last but not least, how can a certain someone I love pass by a statue without whispering in its ear.  I once asked hubby what he tells them and he said "dirty jokes to make them smile".  So if you pass by a smiling statue somewhere around the globe, stop and ask if they know any dirty jokes.  Hubby just may have been there before you.....

10/6/10 Update from Komen  CT Ride for the Cure ~ 
2010 was their most successful ride event in their 10 year history ~ 125 riders raised over $111,000.00!!!  Nice!

Until next time......


Myles Standish Camping - Part 2

Got much more sleep Saturday night.  G and Sprite weren't calling back and forth so much and G seemed to have gotten used to hanging out in the outdoor corral versus his comfy stall.  He seemed to spend more time looking over toward the bathrooms now.  Hubby thinks part of the reason he stared over toward the bathroom so much is that he thought it was the barn and he was wondering what he did wrong to still be outside, lol.  Breakfast was Entenmanns'schocolate donuts and fresh fruit salad, forgotten from the night before.  Diet, what diet?  We had talked to the Bob, Sue & Lauri the host campers late Saturday and arranged to meet up for 9:30 Sunday morning.  They host a ride every Sunday throughout the riding season to show folks the trails not marked on the maps.

And the whole group...left to right:  Me & G, Jill & Sprite, Bob & his TWH and granddaughter's pony; Al & his MH; Lauri & her QH and Sue with her TB cross.

Al started us down the trail from campsite 34 and it was a pretty nice ride.  About 15 minutes into the ride G started to get full of himself (even though he was in 2nd position) and because Al had just recovered from a stroke Bob was concerned that his horse would feed off of G and thought we should split up.  So Lauri took me & Jill in one direction and Bob, Sue & Al went off in another.  We think Lauri thought we wanted to go fast cause she just started trotting off with no warning.  G of course thought he was being left and wanted to canter.  It took alot of half halts and sitting deep to get him to start thinking about me.  The trails were way too narrow to do any turns; the shrubbery too dense to go off the trail. 

After about 10-15 minutes of go fast she slowed down.  All the while she was talking about the trails we were on and then what she felt made a great trail horse.  Not surprisingly, G didn't fit her description lol.  After another 20 minutes we met back up with the other group in one of the meadows between the major dirt roads.  If I remember right there are at least four of these.  Each planted with different vegetation to attract different wild life for hunting season.  Apparently this is a big area for hunters during hunting season. 

Jill & Sprite

Through G's ears:

Bob ponying the pony
We rode through a couple of the meadows together and then split again.  Our destination was one of the ponds in the southeast corner of the forest.  It's one of the few you can take your horse into, so we both obliged - this is my favorite picture from the weekend.

At this point Jill piped up that she thought it would be good if the two of us split off for awhile since we weren't heading directly back and wanted to take it slow.  We followed our path out and then moseyed a bit down a trail we hadn't taken before.  After 10 minutes Jill thought we should retrace our steps and then follow the groups hoofprints back.  So that's what we did and we did eventually catch up to them chatting with another group of riders on the trail.  We were probably out for a little over 2 hours which was enough since all of use had a 3 hour trailer ride ahead of us.

It was without a doubt one of the best weekends I've had in a long time and it really rejuvenated my spirit!!  Jill & Sprite were marvelous trail partners and we look forward to many trail miles together in our futre.