In the twilight, an adorable little friend sneaks out to the barstool to replenish the apples.
Have you ever seen anything so cute in all your life?!!! These priceless photos were on the photo disc left on the barstool for us. Our dear neighbors have brightened our daily rides with juicy apples and now we get to delight in all the "behind the scenes" sweetness that is going on in the re-stocking. Oh, what a treasure! Thank you, friends, for the apples and the photos!!
Our rains finally ended on Sunday and I had the opportunity to review with Pie and Sovereign some easy ground lessons. Somewhere along the line, post-riding grazing has evolved into poor leading habits. Both boys had started balking recently when being led in from hand-grazing. The embarrassing culmination of this happened a couple of weeks ago when our veterinarian arrived to give shots and my friend, Ginny, and I were grazing the boys under the apple tree. Neither horse would walk up to the barn without much delay and head-diving for grass. Our vet commented, "Don't these horses lead?" and I was mortified. Ginny and I jokingly comforted ourselves with the fact that it wasn't too evil to choose apples over a shot, but I knew I had work to do. I also knew that it wasn't the horses' fault. It was mine. I have a history of poor leading behavior and I've come to the conclusion that it all originates in me and my ambivalence about ending the hand-grazing session. Like anything I do with horses, I think about a problem for a few weeks and decide what is the best way to solve it. So, I have been reading and brainstorming about this problem and my personal history with this problem. It really makes no sense. I am not ambivalent about setting limits with my horses when I am riding. I am certainly not ambivalent when leading horses to pasture. I know that I am kind, but firm - almost strict - with Maizie and we have reaped the rewards of that kind of parenting. So why do I get all mushy and passive when I lead a horse in from grazing? The only thing I can come up with is that I don't perceive grazing as dangerous. I am serious about riding and about leading out to the pasture because of the inherent danger in these activities. I guess by the time I am hand-grazing everyone is relaxed and calm, so I let down my guard. This is not good for the horse because it teaches inconsistencies, yet I really want the horses to be able to relax and graze at certain times. We don't have a ring with sand or dirt. Our pastures are grass, our hand-grazing areas are grass and our ring is grass. I have to teach the horses that there are sometimes that we are working on the grass, there are sometimes that we are walking over the grass and there are sometimes that we are eating the grass! On Sunday I started with Pie in his halter and a lead with a dressage whip in my left hand. I took him out of the pasture and alternated saying many "walks" and "stops". He responded perfectly. Next, at a "stop" I threw in a "graze" and pushed his head down. He grazed, although, I don't think it was the happy, calm grazing I am after. He was alert and waiting my next command. I said "stop" and he put his head up, and then I followed with "walk". We did this for sometime and then I switched and worked with Sovey. Sovey actually never really forgot this lesson because he isn't such a chow hound. Later in the afternoon, I took Pie for a bareback ride around the farm. Afterward, I hand-grazed him and he happily munched in his usual voracious manner. When I thought he had had enough, I firmly (no ambivalence) asked for a "stop" and he raised his head. Then I said "walk". He walked without grass-diving to the barn. What a good boy! Now, I have to continue this routine consistently.