Thursday, October 28, 2010

Watching the Combine!

I can't believe it has been 4 months since my last post! A lot has happened in that time, and as I have opportunity, I may share some of it. For now, I was amazed when I went to the barn last week to see Lady at the back fence of her paddock, standing there quietly watching a big green combine working the adjoining soybean field! For one thing, it was going back and forth parallel to her fence rather than toward her, and it was working far enough away to let her feel safe as she watched. But to see her standing there close to the fence instead of running to the other end was a first! I actually got a photo of it! I know now that something is working to help her get over some of her fears of big machinery!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lady gets better!

Using the Spookless CD has really helped me with Lady! We started using it with our riding lessons, then with clicker training. A few days ago, I turned on the boombox while standing next to it, and Lady did NOT spook at all. I picked it up, walked around the arena beside her, while carrying the boombox as it played all those "spooky" sounds of trucks and chainsaws and such, and she didn't mind at all. I've also been using Mare Magic in her feed, and that alone has seemed to calm her. Not long ago, I had her in the front paddock near the road. When that big spidery spray machine rolled by, she looked up a moment and went back to eating her hay. Then the big tractor came by, and she didn't even look up. She's been known to jump and run in the past. Next step is to test it out on the road!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Great Progress with Lady

Had a great vacation and ready to resume riding! But before that, I had 3 lessons with Lady and the Spookless CD, and saw real progress! First two lessons, I found myself gaining confidence in riding Lady closer and closer to those scary sounds. Third lesson, I noticed she was not as spooky as before and I was very happy with her responses. Then, a friend at our barn worked with us a bit on clicker training. Second session, I was able to walk with her up to the boombox while it was playing, standing quietly about 5 feet from it without any spooking. Wow, we are getting there, I think! I now have some ideas for my next session with Lady and the Boombox, and I am excited about the possibilities! I'll let you all know in about a week how it goes!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spookless Progress!

Yes,it's been too long since my last post. Hoping to get back to it from now on! Had a great lesson on Lady yesterday, with the help of my boombox and a Spookless CD. We started at a safe distance from the sounds, riding around barrels doing figure 8s and circles, asking for lengthening and shortening strides. Gradually worked closer and closer to the scary noises, trying to be aware of her reactions and stress level, sometimes walking further away, for relief, then closer. As my instructor, Cindy helped Lady feel safe, standing between us and the boombox noises. Ended up quite close to the sounds, with Cindy offering a mint for reward, then just stood and talked and listened for maybe 5 or 10 minutes, taking one or two steps closer as we talked. Ended up a lot closer than I imagined possible. I had an urge while standing there, to restart the CD at a close distance, but I reminded myself that Cindy often says to stop while you are doing good. We'll do this again another time. As I rode Lady back to the barn, she seemed to be looking for whatever it was that had been making all those noises. Spookier than usual, but I felt able to handle it. Trying to breathe and relax more and not grab the reins. Lady is a smart gal. I'm beginning to think that we may yet find a way for me to ride her down the road without so much fearfulness inside me!

Friday, February 26, 2010

New book review

I was so amazed and overwhelmed yesterday to see a new book review by Linda Ann Nickerson posted on Facebook, for my first book, Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse! Thank You Linda, for your kind words and very thorough review of this book. You captured my purpose so well! I guess it's ok to talk about the book on my MARE blog, because the horse in that book was a very special mare! Fanny was my first real riding horse, and I've learned a lot since then. That book is still doing quite well in sales, more than 5 years after it was published, and even earned an award last year: first runner-up in the Eric Hoffer awards, in the Legacy Nonfiction category (of older books published).
OK, here's a link to Linda's book review:

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Mare with Fluctuating Weight!

I would like to share a friend's situation and see if anyone out there has some helpful advice before she invests in expensive lab work. Her 7-year-old TB mare had a foal about 11 months ago, and since the foal was weaned (about 5 months ago), the mare's weight has fluctuated from week to week. One week she looks good, the next week she will look ribby. You can definitely see a difference, the owner tells me, especially since it's been winter! She is in a pasture with 10 other horses, and they have 3 large round bales available at all times (orchard grass/alfalfa mix). This mare is pretty high on the pecking order and is not being pushed away from the hay. She was getting 3 or 4 pounds of grain in the summer and doing fine, but now she is getting about 8 lbs a day during these winter months (complete feed) to keep weight on. The owner tells me this mare loves attention and has a great personality, not a nervous type. She has a good winter coat, no need to blanket. In good health, good hooves, UTD on shots and worming. It's not like she has lost weight and stays that way, but her weight goes up and down, week to week. Anyone else have this kind of experience?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lady's Escape

Lady will usually go from stall to paddock or from paddock to stall without being led, so I give her a lot of freedom. She recently made it quite clear, however, that she still has a mind of her own. Her stall door was open and her hay snack was inside and I expected her to follow the usual routine. It was a complete surprise when she walked past her stall and headed for the back door of the barn, which was still frozen only partly open. I was sure she couldn’t get through, but she proved me wrong. She stopped just outside the door to munch on hay droppings, and I tried to grab her halter. She resisted and took off across the road toward the farmer’s gate. As I walked after her, she seemed to be looking for some tasty grass, and perhaps decided it wasn’t there after all. Before I could get close to her, she came back to the barn in her fast gait and a bit of canter, back for more of that hay dropped outside the barn door—where I was able to capture her. You see, when horses are not under human influence, they do whatever comes naturally, which could be dangerous to themselves and others. Although Lady is about the most reliable horse I know about some things, she does have a mind of her own. I'd love to hear about other mares and their special ways!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back in the saddle again!

Yes, it's been a long time since I added any comments. Christmas was a busy time; drove 1876 miles round trip to enjoy it with my kids and their families. But yesterday, I knew it was time. After 2 months without riding, I brushed off Lady's coat of crud as much as possible, and rode in the indoor arena. She was perfect. Stretched out so I could mount, did everything I asked, including stop, back, slow gait, faster gait, sidepass over a pole both directions, turn in place, and then she stretched out so I could dismount. And she was quiet and attentive all the way. What a girl! After I trimmed off about 4 inches of bridle path and cleaned out her hooves (which looked better than I thought they would after all my neglect!), I had to reward her. Four cookies this time; she deserved every one. I'll bet my young gelding won't be that good after a two month layoff! We'll soon see. This warmer weather is a welcome incentive.