01.03.2013 - 31.03.2013
So finally I have settled into life at Loose Rein and I am really enjoying working with the horses and learning all about Clinton Anderson’s way. My routine goes a bit like this:
• 6am Wake up and get some breakfast, although sometimes I just don’t feel much like eating so early! Think I must not be quite adjusted yet so I have an apple if I can manage it, cereal on other days.
• 630am Start working with the horses. Could be either of my grey girls, perhaps doing some desensitising with Trigger or a bit of Groundwork with Rosie.
• 1pm Lunchtime! If Bec and Darren are home I eat with them, either outside or occasionally inside catching up with Revenge or Packed to the Rafters.
• 2pm Back to work. Sometimes I had to refill water troughs, move horses to a different paddock, build a new one, clean my living quarters, (although this was mostly done on my time), work with the other horses and I also had to ensure that all horses got fed everyday so I would do this too, if they hadn’t all been done in the morning.
• Sometimes if we managed to get all the work done with time to spare, then Darren would take us fishing/crabbing locally. This was great fun and it was good to get away from the ranch for a while and for Bec and Darren to show us around their local area.
• I would finish work when it was getting dark, so around 4 or 5pm usually. I just had to make sure that all horses were fed, had plenty of water and I had worked with the ones I needed to.
• After work I would be so tired!! It was all I could do to pull myself together to go in the shower and walk over to the house to have dinner (which we’d help prepare or clean up afterwards). If they were at work, I’d make something in my little kitchen over the shed before collapsing in front of the TV! ZZzzz!! That is if I didn’t have a nosebag or three to fix!!!!!! :/
Learning all of the exercises was good fun, not least because with some of them I would end up quite literally going around in circles trying to figure out what on earth I was supposed to be doing!!! :D This was especially true with ‘Circle Driving’ where I was meant to have the horse trot around me in a small circle with my stick resting on their withers (they had to be a stick’s length away from me at all times). I had to face forward and walk a small circle myself until it was time to change directions, this was where I got totally confused! (as in, I was already confused and this just topped it!), I had to pick a spot on the fence, look at it and when the horse came around to that point I was to move my stick from on their withers to beside me and use it to tap on their hindquarters to get them to disengage and then I had to walk forward with the horse on my right and my stick at my side (hopefully!). Once the horse was trotting beside me, I would again resume the position of my stick at their withers and them going around me in a small circle! It sounds difficult right? Well it sure was for this girl who has zero coordination skills, barely knows her left from her right and gets confused easily…………….Rebecca was almost in stitches watching me and said it would of made an hilarious video!!!! Thanks Bec, thanks A LOT!!
This video was shot on location at ''Loose Rein' in 2012, it shows one of the girls working with 'Snazzy Jazz', the exercises she is doing are the same ones which I learnt. I also shot one video with 1 of my grey girls but I will keep that for later.....! Hopefully this gives you a good indication of the works I was doing with the horses.
Thankfully, most of the other exercises were more straight forward than this and I learnt them quickly enough. It would be the horses that got confused not me! Although I tried my utmost to prevent this happening, as a confused horse doesn’t learn anything!
My two grey girls were coming along really well. As well as learning to have a halter on them, I was teaching them to lead beside me. They had to go when I said go and stop when I did, I taught this to them in the round-yard and the lighter one of the 2 got it fairly quickly and without much fuss, but the darker girl kicked out and wasn’t really having any of it! Good job I couldn’t see her kicking out as I would have been quite worried! As well as this I was getting them used to being touched all over and desensitising them to my stick and string and my rope, two items I would be using around them a lot and would not want them to be worried about. They had to get used to me picking up their feet, being trimmed and all the associated tools I would be using for this job. That included the rasp, hoof-pick and hoof stand. I would ask them to pick up their front legs by pinching the walnut all horses have on their legs and then letting go as soon as the hoof was picked up. I would then use the hoof pick to make sounds against their hard hoof wall so they got used to it. I would also ask them to place their foreleg onto the stand so I would be able to trim easier. This was always tricky but with time and repetition they learnt to tolerate it. (They could still be buggers when it came time to trim their hooves though!!!! So frustrating!!!) To ask them to pick up their back legs I would just twist the skin on their hocks –or knee joint- to get them to pick up, I would then stretch it out a bit and rest it on my knee so I could again use the hoof-pick and then bring the leg forward to have them place it on the stand. Essentially, I picked up their hooves every day I was working with them and then would bring the stand/hoof-pick out only on certain days.
Along with teaching them to lead, to pick up their feet, to stand still whilst being trimmed, I was teaching the girls to be good whilst being wormed and when the dentist visited. (She was due to visit not long after I arrived and so this became a priority whilst working with them. All my others were taught this too as I think all of them were seen when she arrived.) It is a well-known fact that horses love molasses and so it was this I used whilst training them. Although I think I ended up covered in more of it than they did! I put a bit of this onto my fingers and worked them into the corners of the mouth where there aren’t any teeth, moving them around inside, taking care of course not to get bitten! I would then touch them all over their muzzle and inside the front of their mouths to get them used to being touched there. Eventually I would try a snaffle bit covered in molasses on a bridle (without a noseband) and leave it on them whilst working in the round-yard. This was so they would get used to a) having a bit in their mouths in the first instance and b) make them ready for when the dentist came and they had to wear that contraption which keeps their mouths open. Much to my relief, when the dentist did visit all of my horses passed with flying colours, even Trigger who was pretty much scared of everything!!!! All except Rosie were fine and didn’t need to be seen again until they were being broken in. Poor Rosie had to have a wolf tooth taken out! She was very brave though.
I worked very long days and even though I was learning a lot and really enjoying being with the horses, I couldn't wait for some time off just to recharge my batteries!!! Trips to town were frequent and I did enjoy going but somehow it doesn't feel like much of a day off when you have to come home and feed up!!!! What I didn't know was just how quickly that time off would come..................