Monday, April 25, 2011

Attack of the killer robins

Somehow, last week I managed to dodge the rain and ride. I rode Gwen on Wednesday, both Quarters on Thursday, Coriander on Friday, and both the Quarters again on Saturday.

I've been doing things a bit differently with Gwen. Traditional horse trainers would seriously wag a finger at me for what I'm doing, but I don't care. It's my horse and my neck so I'm going to do things my way. I'm letting her graze, a lot, then I take short breaks to ask her to walk forward and do a little bit of steering, followed by more grazing. So far this is working out pretty well. I rode her in the pine tree field across the driveway from the pasture on Wednesday where's there's plenty of grass and the herd is in view. We made our way slowly down the field, she'd graze a while and then I'd pick another patch of grass and ask her to walk to it- she really enjoyed it.

At one point we were standing next to a pine tree when a robin EXPLODED OUT OF THE TREE AND CAME AFTER US, BLOOD COVERED CLAWS AIMING STRAIGHT FOR OUR EYES!!! Okay, not really, but it did burst out quite unexpectedly. Gwen lurched to the left... and stopped. I was so pleased I almost hugged her but decided to settle for a click and treat instead. I was so proud of her I almost burst.

Thursday I let her graze down the driveway right next to the pasture. (I took a little gamble and sat on her with only the bareback pad, she seemed quite happy with it.) When we got to the end of the fence line, I asked her to turn around and walk back up to the barn without stopping to graze. She did it! She was a little confused at first because she wanted to stop and eat but I gently put my legs on her and asked her to keep moving. Eventually she just strode right on up to the barn!

Saturday was more of the same. She's really starting to understand what my legs mean and she's started listening to lighter touches on the reins. She's also really good about following my body- I love this about green horses, they're very honest in their reactions to a rider.

I'm so glad I was able to sneak in a few rides last week despite the nasty weather, and I'm so happy with my baby girl. I have a feeling she's going to develop into a fabulous working partner!


  1. Ever lucky to get so many rides in! I think when it comes to training a four-legged friend, you have to do what works for both of you. If letting her graze keeps her calm, then so be it. Perhaps it's the lowering of her head that helps. The end result is that you have been able to ride her. :-) A robin with blood covered talons aiming for your eyes and Gwen didn't freak out? Fantastic!

  2. I think you're right to trust your instincts about training methods. You know enough to judge the pros and cons and making the ride enjoyable and relaxing for her is important too.
    I had to laugh at your description of the robin - I think this is just what they see at times :)

  3. I like that about green horses, too--you're not learning to recommunicate--but to communicate in a fresh new way that is unique to the two of you! Fun!

  4. You've gotta watch out for those robins!

    Thanks so much for your support. It's really nice to know that I'm not going to get vilified for doing things a little bit differently. Or if I am at least they aren't commenting about it ;)

  5. Since I am no longer working with a trainer I have found that I really need to trust in myself and do what feels right...and in working that way I find I get better results than I ever did before! Sure, the results come a bit more slowly, but the results are also often "happier". Horses never lie (but I do think they maybe fib sometimes...silly boogie corners).

  6. Awesome all the way around. I don't know which is better, not freaking at the robin or going to the barn without eating just because you asked. Yeah! for Gwen!!

  7. That sounds like me and Gus - a little nibble, a little bending, another nibble, a tiny bit of trot, stop to look at the view. It's all about keeping it happy!

  8. Story- Well you know how it went between the tortoise and the hare, I think that story is horse training in a nutshell.

    Thanks Mikael, I know that eventually I'll be able to phase out 95% of the grazing but right now it's keeping her calm. If I was fighting her about the grazing she would probably have flipped out over that bird.

    June- that's it exactly :)