My herd!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

There have been so many cool things going on in my field lately I’m having a hard time keeping up sharing the highlights!

I am so glad I made the decision to purposefully take the time to enter their world as it’s been interesting- and in many ways I’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve ever enjoyed riding!

I’ve dedicated time to groundwork before… and I’ve given my horses time off- but nothing has been quite like going into the field to ‘work’ together, explore our relationship and learn from them in quite this way.

Here is a little story of one of the days last week.

I went in as usual and fed the mares.

For the record I do not keep a feeding schedule. This is on purpose. My horses will never stand at the gate at a predetermined time of day wondering why I haven’t shown up. I also do not feed every day- though I do feed most days. My horses always have grass or hay available.

I also do not use food as a deal maker of any sort: I don’t catch them while they are eating. Sometimes if I’m planning to do barn things (feet trimming, riding etc) I may not bring food to the field and will feed in the barn. It all depends. But I do not use food to catch my horses. After they eat I allow them to walk off which usually entails a trip to the water trough before I go in to halter.

So this day I fed first and was considering what I’d like to do when Khaleesi and Wild Heart walked off and hit the fence line very focused somewhere else. The gelding herd was coming up from the far field. In no time they were now part of my day.

The boys.

I rolled my eyes.

There’s a herd of about 6 horses a local guy keeps on the property that are rarely handled. It’s common for them to spend time hanging out along the fences with my girls.


Can’t these dumb horses just go away and leave me and my girls alone!?! This is going to complicate my plans. Khaleesi is in heat and the geldings are excited to take turns visiting with her. There’s no way I’m getting anything of value done here.

I am non existent.

Now what.

Use it as an opportunity. These horses are here to teach me something so let’s go.

This is my herd. Actually that’s where I’ll begin. Taking back my herd so to speak. At least I’ll see how it goes and I’ll learn something.

It ended up being a fascinating day.

True to form the bitch in heat was rowdy and squirting all around whenever she could stand still long enough.

If Wild Heart was getting attention somewhere Khaleesi would run in and push her off and chase her. It was fascinating.

Also- it was all ok. This is what her many generations of instinct insist she do. It’s not even a choice at the moment. I wasn’t annoyed with her. I understood.

I began walking up the the fence and pushing the boys off [get back!!] and each time K wanted to back up to the fence I simply asked her to walk along and move her feet.

My intention was to get her to pay more attention to me then to them.

First the geldings began to stay off the they were not approaching the mares anymore and were watching me. One gelding came in to me and we greeted; I asked him to step back and he did. All the geldings at some point were now focused on me.

Khaleesi started to pay attention to me gradually as well and I’d ask her something simple like back up or turn on her haunches a step.

I had managed to change the scene.

Occasionally a gelding would come up to the fence line and either try to connect with a mare or come closer to me than I wanted and I’d ask them first with my body posture then with my rope to back up.

It worked.

When I was ready to leave I’d had the attention of my mares and asked them to do some things with me in the field successfully, the geldings has stopped approaching the fence but were still close by watching, and then my mares were grazing peacefully without paying much attention to the boys anymore at all. The entire hormone and adrenaline crazed scene was now just horses hanging out in a field.

I left for the gate and looked back to see them still in about the same way I left them. My mares not at all involved with then gelding herd.

It’s been almost a week since that day and I’ve never had to deal with the geldings since on a visit. They’ve been far off and not come up while I’ve been there. I’m not saying it’s because of that interaction or not. I don’t have that kind of certainty of cause-effect. But no matter what it’s been nice not to have to compete with them for the attention of my good mare- and that day seemed to really turn the tide for me getting her more focused attention on my visits.

Things really began to get good after this day.

Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

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