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November 6, 2014: At Play in the Fields of the Equines

My title was taken from a title by Peter Mathieson – “At Play in the Fields of the Lord.” Same difference – working with horses can be spiritually uplifting. Today was such a day. Today, like yesterday, was another day in which the focus was on doing agility/obstacle/groundwork with the gang. I did get Ryder and Tinni out for a short jaunt on the lower trail; however, I primarily did agility with her and Hrimmi and Raudi. Tinni watched.

I used to do more of this kind of thing when Raudi and Siggi were young. But I started doing less when they came of riding age. I’m resuming doing more of this because they all really enjoy it. It’s play, and play is important.

Raudi entering the agility curtin

Today I first began working with Ryder who prior to our session sits on the stool/mounting block and waits to be given her marching orders. She did well again today, going over the jumps and cavalettis. And we also had two major breakthroughs. The first was that she willingly scooted through the tunnel, a short piece of large, corrugated black plastic pipe. (I was going to throw this away but now I’m glad that I decided to keep it). The second was that Ryder willingly jumped into the empty swimming pool. Yesterday she laid down next to it and refused to go in it, but today she leapt right in and gobbled down the handful of treats that I’d tossed into the center. I also had her jump onto the picnic table – this to her is now no big deal since she spends considerable time on the picnic table outside the house.

Hrimmi was next on deck. I am having to chunk her training way down. We are working on stand, using the clicker so that she doesn’t mug me for a treat. She’s a smart filly and is getting the idea. I just have to be consistent about this. Hrimmi, who was on the lead line, had no problem with any of the obstacles. She’s not yet as experienced as Raudi, who I can work with off line – but like Raudi, she’s fearless and has a strong interest in agility.

I also did some boy work on Hrimmi. I had her back several times, walk and trot up the driveway, bow, and do stretches. When she’s Raudi age, she’ll have surpassed her herd mate in terms of her ability.

Raudi also did well – she was most interested in playing with the soccer ball. I first had her stand on a piece of plywood that I’d placed on a tire. She stepped right up to it and began pivoting her rear legs around her front legs. This made me wonder if someone worked with on this when she was a weanling at Virginia Crawford’s place. Perhaps she learned from her herd mate Sifra, who used to this quite often.

Back to soccer – after working with Raudi I decided to play a pick-up game (literally) with her and Hrimmi. I got the ball that earlier Raudi had been pushing around – and I set up two traffic cones. Raudi and Hrimmi then went back-and-forth, touching and pushing the ball. And when I kicked it, Raudi ran after it and touched it. Hrimmi didn’t have Raudi’s high degree of interest – she preferred to gnaw on the cones.

We all had a good time. I’m going to keep finding things to do with all the animals – this is going to include the goats. Yesterday’s momentum carried into today. Tomorrow will be much the same, so I need to go with this momentum. One thing I am thinking of doing is getting both horses to put all four feet in the pool.

Most importantly, this is all about having a good time with all the animals. If this ceases to be fun for any of us, those who are unhappy will explore other alternatives.

Next: 298. 11/7/14: One Tough Dog