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July 16, 2012: More on Big Horses and Little Horses

Our July farrier visit had previously been scheduled for this morning. Fortunately, it’s now light out at 8:30 a.m. This will not be the case six months from now. I should ask Josh, our farrier, how he deals with the absence of light.

We were ready and waiting for Josh’s arrival. First up was Raudi, who was brushed to an inch of her life yesterday. (That’s a rather odd expression, I wonder about the circumstances that prompted someone to utter it). As Josh was nailing on the second shoe, Vickie arrived riding Hunar, aka Romeo, and Emily arrived riding Tinni. (We’d decided to have the same farrier shoe Tinni while in the Talbot’s care this summer.)

Emily holding Tinni
Emily holding Tinni

Raudi has always loved Hunar, and in fact, their relationship goes back a long ways – four years I think. She cares for him as much as she cares for any other horse because her self-love gets in the way. But this horse, a red roan silver dapple, she thinks is really something. I took off for a walk with Emily and Vickie and their horses. Raudi, who badly wanted to come along broke ranks and dragged Pete half-way across the yard. This was really the only incident of the day.

Next up was Tinni, who stood quietly as he was shod. Emily’s done a nice job getting him in prime condition. He’s trim, shiny, and alert. I miss having him around, but have to concede that he’s getting more trail miles in than if he was here.

Next up was Siggi, who I brushed as Tinni was getting his pedicure. He held still so he did not need to be enticed to do so with food. This was his loss.

Next up was Signy, who only needed a minimal trim. I brushed her as Siggi’s shoes were being nailed in place. When I held her for Josh. I couldn’t help but think what a difference it was from a year ago, when she was leery of the farrier. And with good reason. Signy had some nasty rope burns on her heels. That she willingly went with us with sore feet attests to her good character. She’s never, ever been a problem. I have sensed that she’s had no concerns that we might mishandle Hrimfara because she trusts us. And so, treating the foal properly is a huge responsibility since Signy’s mental health is also at stake.

I finished grooming Signy and then worked a bit on Hrimfara, who came over and stood next to her dam. Once again the adage little horses do as big horses do held true. I had left her trim to last because I wanted her to see what was going on with the other horses. And I’d decided that she’d be worked on in the same place where the others were being worked on.

I do not believe that horses intentionally imitate one another, but I do think they feel most comfortable when they discern that there’s some semblance of a routine being adhered to. These routines center around feeding, cleaning, and maintenance. In this case, the routine involves standing quietly while a two legged rasped, trimmed, and pounds on hoof walls. There’s no yelling or flailing of hands, no thumping on horse’s sides with rasps – just a lot of quiet talk about nothing of any great importance. Thus, there’s no reason for the newcomer to become agitated.

If I’d put Hrimmi in the small enclosure, she might rightfully have thought that something was up. The way we decided to do it, by including her in the lineup, was as far as she was concerned, business as usual.

I was very pleased with the outcome. I’d been lifting her legs and setting them down, so she’d grown used to my touching them. Josh took things a step further by holding onto her legs firmly as he worked. She didn’t pull away. After, she stood quietly while Josh scratched her.

Recall – a month ago --Hrimmi was not yet halter broken. Back then, I was worried about today’s appointment, and how we were going to handle her being trimmed. Working with her in advance of today’s visit paid off. She’s learned a huge lesson, which is to stand when haltered, so that the farrier can trim and the veterinarian can administer vaccines. We are leading Hrimmi, limitedly, in the evenings, from the big to the little pen. This keeps us from having to chase her around the property. She’s made the connection between having the halter on and having to go where mom goes. The next life lesson is going to come after Hrimmi is weaned, which will be in late August. We’ll then teach her to lead while being led by horseback. Until then, she can run about freely while on walks.

Hrimmi is now a very confident creek crosser, and has no problem negotiating brushy, rocky, or slippery trails. It seems to me as though she’s happy with things the way they are. And I’m pleased to have figured out a training philosophy that complements our place and lifestyle. It’s simply – little horses do as big horses do.

Pete and I took Siggi and Raudi out after Josh left. Their life lessons are also continuing. They’re learning to put on the brakes when going downhill, to back, to whoa, and to stand when asked. They knew all this before – they’re just getting better at it now. It’s very cool to have five horses that are respectively, two and half months, eight, nine, seventeen, and twenty three. The age range also allows for greater diversity in terms of things that I as their trainer can do with them.

Next: 221. 07/17/12: Catch up