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April 5, 2014: Hrimmi’s Second Birthday

Last night my good friend Vicki Talbot asked me if I’d begun doing groundwork with Hrimfara. I was momentarily tongue tied because what came to mind was what most people think of when asked this question – formal sessions in which the horse is worked in-hand over a set period of time, for a set number of days.

I may have said that I’ve done some, but not a lot, which is the truth. I’ve taken her over obstacles, and worked with her on whoa, back, move this way or that.

I should have said what follows. Problem is, sometimes things don’t come to mind as fast as I’d like. This may be because

Hrimmi's second birthday

this is an instance in which I’m figuring out things as I go along.

I actually did considerable formal ground training with Raudi and Siggi. But in the case of Hrimmi, I have taken a more informal approach. This is in part circumstantial. Back then I had just one riding horse, and because I had never raised a horse, I went by the mental model that was clinician based. This time, we have three riding horses. And I, who have now raised two horses, am going by a model that is more experientially-based.

In Iceland, the horses are handled minimally until age four. They are raised in herds, and pastured. If I could, I do would things this way. However, our horses live in a paddock, which is primarily why we’ve done things differently. Hrimmi was an accident. We did not know that Signy was pregnant when we purchased her. So it’s been an instance of making do.

My motto in working with Hrimmi has, by default, been “what big horses do, little horses do.” This is now near laughable, for Hrimmi, at age two, is taller than Tinni and Raudi, and gaining on Lifre. So, the motto is now what Tinni, Raudi, and Lifre do, Hrimmi must do.

Here’s where we are now at in our more informal approach:

I have been working with Hrimmi since she was a foal on her pen manners. So she now stays back when I take the hay out of the shelter and distribute it to all the horses. And she backs when I point at her chest. She stands quietly when I put the halter and lead rope on, and she follows behind when I take her out of the gate. Once out the gate, she turns and faces me, so that I can then latch the gate.

Hrimmi is quite used to being tied at the hitching post and stands quietly in the company of other horses when I groom her and clean her feet. I have been giving her hay and grain at this time, so as to keep her stress level low.

Hrimmi stands quietly for the veterinarian and farrier, and she has now on a few occasions done well when being trailered. I have taken her out alone – she did not resist. She leads well, and does well being ponied.

We allow her to run off lead when on the trail. This has made her very trail savvy. She readily crosses creeks and avoids mud bogs. When possible, she goes around ice patches. Going over downed logs is not a problem. The best part of all is that at the ride’s conclusion, she’ll wait for us at the Murphy Road Trailhead.

I am really pleased with how things are working out in regards to Hrimmi’s upbringing. Informal training – this works for us.

Next: 125. 5/6/14: What it Means to be Human