Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This is how hooves should be trimmed

(In my opinion)

James Welz posted a video of his trim on YouTube, I encourage you to take a look at this video before he changes his mind and takes it off. I've been doing this trim since February and have seen many positive changes in the Quarter's hooves.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gwen's choice

I haven't been able to do much with my horses lately, as you might have ascertained by my lack of posts. Other aspects of my life have crowded into my horse time, add to the very swollen left knee that my handsome boy seems to have acquired and I haven't had much to talk about that wasn't depressing. Summer of maladies, 2012.

Gwen, it would seem, does not appreciate the fact that I'm "ignoring" her. She came up to me yesterday after eating her dinner and said, "I want to do something." Well it's hard to argue with that. I dug out her mat (a piece of plywood), put it on the ground and waited for her to put her feet on it. Mind you she wasn't wearing a halter or anything, so there was no way I could direct her to stand on the mat besides body language and her memory of what the mat means.

For those of you who may not know, standing on a mat is a foundation clicker training exercise. Horse get a high rate of reinforcement for placing both front feet squarely on the mat. It teaches impulse control and how to ground-tie. For many horses who really love standing on the mat you can use it to help a horse get comfortable in the "scary corner" of arenas or trailers or trails. It's a very handy exercise.

So there we were, looking down at the mat when Gwennie did what she normally does at first sight of the mat (which btw is not good) and pawed at it. Normally I back her up or step her forward to approach the mat again when she does this, but without a halter I couldn't do that. Fortunately this wooden mat doesn't stay put when she paws, it skates over the ground- which doesn't get her rewarded. So she tried that a couple times before her lightbulb went off and she planted one foot squarely on the mat. Reward!

Then I waited. "You have to put the other foot on it, babe," I said, pointing to it. Up went the other foot, plopped down squarely next to the first. Reward, reward, reward! I then slowly walked around her, rewarding her for remaining still when I left her head. At one point, she fidgeted and a hoof came off the mat. No reward for that, so I walked a few feet in front of her and asked her to target on my fist. She came off the mat to my hand for her reward and I figured that would be the end of it- that she would take the opportunity to walk off and graze. But no, she turned around and went right back to the mat! And she didn't paw at it!

To me, these are the moments when clicker training is the most rewarding. When the horse obviously chooses to do the exercise, when they're involved 100% and having a good time. It was also one of those moments when one of my horses approaches me and I know exactly what they want. It kind of feels like a thought pops into my head that's not my own, it feels strange but completely true, know what I mean?

Here's a picture of a horse standing on a mat by his own choice. This is not Gwen, sadly I had left my camera at home.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Happiness is a dirty horse- they can't get muddy if it doesn't rain! Grow grass, grow! Just look at that pathetic pasture. I know it could be worse, a lot worse, the Associated Press just reported that the drought is intensifying in the Plains states. Did you know that the American Midwest grows most of the corn for the entire planet? This drought isn't only affecting us, the whole world is feeling it.

Anyway, onto the dirty horses:

What is he finding to chew on?

Honestly, he looks a little skeptical too
Updated photo of Coriander's leg wound. About a week after he first cut it the flap came off, which was a little alarming, but I've been diligently spraying it with Wellhorse and I think it's been healing pretty well. I'll be getting another bottle of that stuff.
I can touch the camera too!
Gwen's chest and neck swelling has gone down too. It comes out that arnica gel will work even when applied over hair. The day after her first application the swellings had already softened a bit and were less painful to the touch. Now they are almost completely gone. Happy mare!

Are you hiding the good grass under your feet?

How do you like my sun flare?
There's more rain in the forecast, I can't wait. Neither can they I think.