Monday, September 20, 2010

The wrong side of the fence

Poor Gwen got stuck on the wrong side of the fence yesterday. The big pasture is bisected by a piece of fence that was left behind when their pasture was enlarged. It extends almost 3/4 of the length of the field, leaving an opening next to the smaller pasture where the run-in is. Somehow Gwen managed to be on the opposite side of the fence than the herd.

I had walked out to the pasture with just my bag of treats and a brush because I like to groom them both before I take Coriander out to ride. I could see three horses when I got out there but Gwen was missing. I finally saw her moving on the other side of the fence and had a little panic attack. All the times I can remember Gwen being on the wrong side of the fence it hasn't ended well.

I went over to her and tried to get her to follow me around the fenceline using the treats. She'd follow me until the rest of the herd got out of sight and then she'd wheel around and book it back to them, giving me a heart attack as my mind imagined her ripping through the wire. I finally just ran up to barn and grabbed her halter (That was interesting, ankle still doesn't want to do that. I swore at it a little and made it run anyway.). I brought the halter back and she threw her head into it without issue, but leading her around the fence was a little bit hairy. I had to pull out the tai-chi wall that Alexandra Kurland teaches to keep her from wheeling away from me and charging back at the fence. When I finally got her around it, she stood very nicely while I unclipped the leadrope and gave her a treat, then she took off running to reunite with the herd.

I gave her a few minutes to get sorted out before I walked back over to her and checked her for wounds. Not a mark on her, thank heavens! I think that the work we've been doing helping her gain confidence away from the herd had something to do with her not getting hurt in that situation. Well, I hope it has anyway.

I wanted to work with her but I decided that she had had enough emotional turmoil that day, so after I rode her brother I brought my mounting block/stepladder into the field and did some liberty work with her. We did some free-shaping- I leaned over her back and wrapped my arms around her barrel, when she lowered her head I stood up and rewarded her. She's pretty good at this on the left, the right needs a little more time.

I keep working with her with the intention of riding her but I have to admit I'm scared to try it. When I came off of her and broke my ankle she shot out from under me so fast that I didn't even touch her hindquarters on her way past. She's very fast, very powerful, and very emotional, i.e. a spook machine. This is why I haven't gotten back on her yet and why I'm asking her to lower her head at the mounting block. The more emotional control and relaxation I can get from her now the better. I'm not going to throw a leg back over her until I know for sure that she is beyond ready for it. If that doesn't happen until next year, so be it.


  1. Poor Gwen! Poor you!...your heart must have been pounding when you didn't see her with the others! No need to rush anything.....when the time is right, she'll let you know when you can put your leg over her. :-)

  2. That's the only thing I don't like about their new home. The pasture is so big it takes me a while to find them sometimes.

  3. I hate it when I can't find a horse and it's usually Blue who hiding somewhere in the trees or gone after he picked a locked gate. Glad she was okay.

    When the time is right you will get on her. I had a very spooky 17'2 hand Warmblood and some days I just knew it was going to be bad and it usually was. But I've taken a different attitude with Dusty, when we started we started very slow. Maybe ten minutes at the walk and practiced softening and bending on a circle. After a few months of upping her riding time she was softening and bending and most of all listening. It takes a long time but it built her confidence and relaxed her because I think she knew exactly what I wanted. Part of her problem was that she tried to anticipate and then she'd get nervous and just go off on her own. Now she's learned patience.

    Good luck. Hope your ankle is feeling better.

  4. Exactly GHM, if my heart starts pounding just at the thought of putting a leg over her we're not ready. And I agree, bad days are a self fulfilling prophecy, I've never had a good day that I initially thought would be bad.

    Your Blue sounds like an equine genius. You sure he hasn't joined MENSA behind your back?