Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 >Daily Dispatch #336

December 17, 2014: Agility and Horses

I have in the past ten years spent a lot of time with Raudi, working with her to more readily accept the strange and unfamiliar, by exposing her to objects of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. She’s always been a good sport about it all; this is because she is at heart a very confident and fearless mare. She also is adept at letting me know when I’ve pushed the limits, mainly by flaring her nostrils, pricking her ears forward, and raising her head. Then, I’ve backed off, and again approached her with such things at another time.

I began desensitizing her a few day after I moved her to Bill and Katie Long’s Moose Creek Ranch. I took her into their arena, got under a tarp, and had her find me. I then got up, and with tarp on shoulders, walked around like I was the Queen of England. And then, together, we walked over the tarp. It was a lot of fun then, and it continues to be fun. When this sort of thing ceases to be fun, we’ll call it good.

I began doing less desensitization work on the ground and began doing more in the saddle when Raudi turned four. This is because I was spending more time riding. I knew I needed to resume doing ground work stuff because my sense has been that she and Hrimmi and Tinni are bored.

The answer materialized in an interesting way. Claudia Sihler, who trains dogs and recently along with her husband Frank acquired two Icelandic mares, told me about the International Agility Horse Club. It is run and orchestrated by Vanessa Bell, who lives and works in England. Essentially, you train for and enter semi-virtual competitions – your membership fee includes x number of courses. You train and compete, doing these courses, then videotape and submit these courses to Vanessa.

I got the online December course. Today I went outside and began gathering up my obstacles. I then worked Raudi, Hrimmi, and Tinni. I had a wonderful time and I think that the horses did too. The obstacles themselves included a tarp, five cones (substituted red and green buckets) a wood square filled with water bottles, a sack filled with hay, and a festive hat. Those competing are judged on how well they go over, around, above, and beneath these things.

I set up the course, minus the streamers. I have a grotto, but lacked the decorations. Raudi, Hrimmi, and Tinni, both on and off lead, did very well. Tinni and Hrimmi were leery of the sacks filled with hay. Tinni remained leery, but Hrimmi was okay with them once she discovered that they contained hay.

I have a basis for comparison with Raudi. She was once like Hrimmi is now – playful, curious, and extremely lippy. In time she will be like Raudi is now, all knowing and very patient. She will also someday let me know that enough is enough, by walking away and wringing her tail.

In the late afternoon, before going to yoga, I went to the local thrift store and I purchased items for the next agility item on the list, which is a Christmas Grotto. It’s supposed to be decorated, so I sought out decorations. I was surprised to find anything – I figured that this being the holiday season, that there would not be much of anything in ye ole thrift store. But I got lucky. I found a large flat wood candy cane, three stockings, a Santa hat, tinsel streamers, and . . drum roll – a Christmas wreath. It’s a somewhat skuzzy wreath, but it’ll do. I got it home and bonus points – Pete discovered that it has little LED lights that are battery powered.

We’ll construct the course if the weather’s good tomorrow. I’ll take the horses through it a few times and then we’ll video it and send it via the internet, to England. I am doing this because it’s my profound belief that this will take care of the winter horse blahs. So add to my being chambermaid, cook, and personal trainer – being a home entertainment center.

Next: 337.12/17/14: Book Review: Part II, Animals Make us Human