Wednesday, February 03, 2016

All 4 Feet!

No pics, just bragging. Today after going for a short walk, Duncan picked up all 4 feet and I picked them all out for the very first time. No fuss. Just like he'd been doing it every day. Doesn't sound like much, but this has been months in the making. Granted, I wasn't in a rush because his feet wear so well on their own. We could've maybe done it sooner, but whatever, we did it! I was so happy with him, and he was pretty proud too!

Monday, February 01, 2016

First Hike!

 Duncan is going to be a kick-ass mountain horse. He really enjoyed himself today.

First Bit and Saddle

Duncan had a whole week off because I haven't been feeling well. I still don't know for sure what the heck's wrong with me this time, but I was tired of it yesterday so I played with my horse. Duncan and Tylenol are a good remedy.

I put a bit in his mouth for the first time. He didn't love it, but he didn't throw any fits. We've been doing a lot of preparing for this, learning about lowering and turning his head just right, playing with his mouth, and passing the lead rope in front of his face and over his ears as you do with a bridle.

We walked around and he fiddled with his bit. There were some idiots on motorcycles next door so he was pretty distracted. Then I took it off. I wasn't expecting perfection in one day.

Then I brought out his saddle and threw it up on his back from both sides, walked him around & flapped the stirrup leathers, and took it off. All without cinching it up.

I picked up a all 4 feet, congratulated him profusely, and went inside.

I really wanted to put the saddle fully on, but had some apprehension after what Tonka did years ago. Duncan has worn a saddle at least once that I know of, but obviously hasn't been totally fine with the saddle going up on his back, so I wasn't sure what to expect about the cinch. 

Turns out it was a total non-event.

I love his forelock in this picture:

And I love his sweet face in this picture:
He walked and trotted in both directions quite a bit, and then we went for a short walk through the hawthorn trees next door.

After unsaddled him I picked up all 4 feet again and praised him a lot.

It was a very good day!

Sunday, January 24, 2016


So yesterday I wrote about things I'd already written about, and forgot to write about something important. Sometimes I think my brain is old before its time.

On Wednesday Duncan and I had a frustrating session working on picking up hind feet. We both were tired and desperate by the end. He would kind of pick up a foot then step down on it, or sometimes he wouldn't even try, and he'd move away. I'd yield his hindquarters around and around, then try again. A few times toward the end I trotted him off in a small circle instead of yielding hindquarters.

He really is such a sweet boy. Through all of this, he never once thought about kicking me. He just doesn't want me to have his leg, so he stands on it, moves it away, puts it down. He is apprehensive and off-balance. He isn't mean spirited, he just never learned that this is okay.

Finally, as it was getting too dark to see, he let me set his pastern on my knee. I kept it for a split second, then gently set it down. Praise and pets! Step back and let him soak that in. Licking and chewing. Two more times we did it, the last time I was able to leave his hoof on my knee and rub his leg all over. Super proud, pleased praise.

I left him after that, his reward my absence.  I didn't even go to the other hind leg at all.

We didn't work on it again until yesterday, and I wasn't sure what to expect. Either we had a breakthrough or we didn't.

My first ask made him move away just slightly and weight that leg. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked again without "punishing" him for moving off. He did it! I went to the other side and he did it there too! I didn't ask for anything more than a brief hold. Short and sweet. We'll build on that.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

We Haven't Been Idle

 We've had to do some work inside the stalls because of the cold wind. He is jumpy in bad weather (aren't they all) so asking him to do stuff and remember we can be calm is good for him.

I let him wear his blanket around until it fell off. He thought it was interesting, but not scary.

Pedro was jealous.

 I got him some used easyboots and put pads in them to see if they'll help with his sore feet. Then the ground thawed and he didn't need them.

Duncan and I went for our first walk down the road! He was a rock star. He looked back toward home a few times, and was extra watchful going through the neighbor's farm equipment, but he never spooked or threw a fit wanting to go home. We didn't have any cars go by. Maybe next time.

He's also been spending a little time tied up. I ordered a new blocker tie ring so I could tie him without worrying if he really knows how to stand tied. It turns out he does. But he's a little nervous being groomed while he's tied. That's easy to work on.

I put a new piece of fabric on my flag and introduced it to him. He prefers if it stays still in front of him, but I also flapped it around and touched him all over with it. We will be doing more of that.

Have you ever heard of the Masterson Method? It's kind of similar to acupressure, I guess. Check it out on YouTube and maybe try it out. I did this with Duncan and he really responded well on his left side. Lots of releases with yawning and licking and chewing.

On his right side it's been more challenging. He doesn't want to let go of whatever is going on there, so he fidgets so much I can hardly keep my hand in position. I know the feeling. Sometimes my chiropractor does that to me and it's very unpleasant right before it releases. It's funny, because it's just the lightest touch, held without moving, so you wouldn't think it could do anything, let alone make you feel uncomfortable, then much better.

We went out to the Great White Pine area and went hiking the other day. It was kind of rough going in the snow, but it was just what I needed. I love being in the woods. So does Huckleberry.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Glad for Stalls

The weather today was gross. Wind and snow and rain. Blech. So we played in the stalls.

Duncan has a tendency to be a little goofy in cold, wet, windy weather. I don't blame him. He worked through it though. Interestingly, he really prefers if I talk to him when we're working on something worrisome. Which doesn't come naturally to me, and sometimes I forget and get quiet. He did much better with the blanket flying over his back once I started babbling.

We also did some moving of various body parts. At one point he had me wondering if someone had taught him some showmanship or something, he's so sensitive and maneuverable, one tiny step at a time. It's probably just who he is, though.

I also picked up his feet, and worked on stretching one of them forward, but then my mom called and we just stood together for a bit while I talked on the phone.

Then I turned him loose with the saddle blanket on and watched.

No big deal.

Going back several years, I accidentally left all my Blocker tie rings in my trailer when I sold it. We haven't been super flush since then, and they became pretty expensive, so I didn't replace them. It made tying young mustangs for the first time more of a production, with lots of preparation and thought put into how to do things safely.

I decided it was time to get one again, depending on the price. I found a deal on eBay, from Blocker Ranch, the inventor of the ring, that was totally reasonable with free shipping, so I bought one and it got here super quick.

Tonight I tied Duncan for the first time, using the Blocker ring to make me feel better about it. I didn't want him pulling back, scrambling, flipping over or any of that in my barn where the close quarters would make it more dangerous. 

When I brought him home I was told he ties no problem. It turns out to be true. Happy day. :)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bella, Agent of Chaos

Yesterday John took Scout for a walk in the big pasture and I tried to join him with Duncan, which required going through Bella's pasture. Scout was already pretty far away and Bella was being a flighty booger because her boy had been taken away. I tried to get through the gate to join John and Scout but she kept running up behind us and spooking Duncan, so that didn't work. (I can't take a chance of her getting loose right now because we have a deep trench she could fall in.) By now both Duncan and the distant Scout were pretty jazzed up.

Anyway, long story shorter, Duncan reminded me that he still needs a lot of life experience. Poor guy's heart was beating out of his chest every time he saw Scout off in the distance, and Bella racing around bucking didn't help. He could barely focus on me at all.

He did put all 4 feet in this puddle for me. Isn't he cute with his googly eyes all worried?

I made him a special new halter with beads that have spirals on them (kind of like his spiral curls). It doesn't photograph super well, but you get the idea.

Oh, and John got a new job! He'll be working for a company that makes custom homes. He's really excited about it. It's mostly commission based so things might be tight the first year, but then it should really take off. He's the good kind of salesman. Finds the right fit for the customer without being pushy about it. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Just pictures

 Did you ever read National Velvet as a child? I thought she was so incredibly... I don't know, lucky, rich, free, having all those horses to do whatever she wanted with. That's how I felt watching Duncan eat his snack the other day. :)


Bella has such big, pretty eyes.