Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overdue Update

My god, not really too sure where time is running off too, but it certainly seems to be flying.

Apologies for the total lack of meaningful updates on the mare, but I suppose this is where I'll assuage my guilt by saying "no news is good news."  Right? especially with the beast ponies.

So, just to recap, last week's visit was a blast.  Getting there took a little longer than normal, since the Lavender Festival was in full swing (apparently that means every woman over 50 and hippie in the Seattle area was cramming onto ferries and crowding the small highways that The Boy and I needed to use to get to the mare).  It did make for some fairly fragrant pit stops, but that wasn't exactly high on my priority list...

Upon our arrival, the mare was out in pasture with the herd, pretty calm.  Apparently the herd integration has gone pretty well.  She spends her days with the group (not nights yet) and moves with them, when they move.  They only exception (and slight trepidation) that she's been showing is that she won't follow the heard around to the back pasture.  Instead, she'll return to the barn (where there's a sweet old mare she loves) and wait for the group to return.  I guess this means she isn't totally comfortable with the group yet and that her night time stall still offers her a lot of comfort.  But, to the untrained eye, she looked pretty darn content grazing away with her little birdies on her back in the middle of her new friends.

She was kind enough to nicker when we showed up and came ambling over right away with ears perked.  It was the sort of friendly, loving attention that this horse deprived girl totally needed.  My heart melted a little and The Boy commented that "we're gonna be here a while, aren't we."

Uh, yeah. Yes we are.  I miss my pony and she's being cute. In fact, we might never leave.

We chatted for a bit with Cowboy man about how she's been doing and discussed her ongoing groundwork.  Her body looks GREAT.  Stance is relaxed, feet are growing, her hind hooves are doing great barefoot, and P's shoulders continue to look looser and more relaxed.  On top of that, Dr. Finn has been doing level 4 laser treatments on her knees and they look fantastic.  The hair is still course and discolored, but the skin is soft and totally healed.  Two things it definitely hasn't been since she took that spill after her second myelogram.  Apparently additional treatments might even return the hair to its natural black, but I'm less concerned about that.

Once I was satisfied that the mare was happy, healthy and looking like a champ, Cowboy Man led her (at liberty) up to the barn so he could show us the sort of groundwork he's been working on.
getting ready for a snack...
 He reiterated that when he's working the horses in the arena, he takes a few buckets of alfalfa cubes/grain/whatever with him so that P doesn't just associate the ring with "work" and "frustration," but also with goodies and snack breaks (a girl after my own heart..).

Seems like a basic principle, but making a conscious effort to keep something obviously positive associated with the geography of "work" makes a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, first he demonstrated the basic "rating" work he's been doing with P.  Essentially, asking her to maintain a distance of 6' (give or take) regardless of the speed Cowboy Man walks.  She's supposed to be cuing off his body language as well as a very exaggerated exhale when he slows and stops.  The actual word "whoa" is saved for once P's feet stop moving.  The idea is that she associates "whoa" with an actual stop, and not the discussion or request.  That way "whoa" becomes our safe word of sorts, or an emergency brake should when we need one.

Sounds simple enough, but I was a moron at it.  When it was my turn to try I felt like an eight year old pony camper.  It was really hard for me to get P to respect my 6' bubble at all.  She followed me ok, but the whole stopping before she was in my space thing, was... well slightly more difficult.  So were the exaggerated body movements, which I was having to make much more dramatic than cowboy man.... A sweeping bow/open arm to ask P to step forward, and square stop/arms over my head as a request to stop.

If/when she invaded my space, I wiggled her lead and stomped at her feet (she was unimpressed).  We did get a bit better and the frequent stops for snacks seemed to keep P mostly interested.  The Boy even had his turn with the mare and did a pretty darn good job for someone who enjoys patting and looking at ponies, but not leading or (god forbid) riding them.
Frankly, they both looked a bit suspicious of each other, but points for trying!
When P's attention started to wane, Cowboy Man took her out of the ring to play with Obama the Llama.  Apparently his new role is to be nosed and herded around by P.  She is still somewhat terrified of him, but does a good job of being a big girl and eventually getting her nose on his matted self (good mare). Obama the Llama did attempt to spit on P... but she scooted away..

Anyway, we did a few different exercises.. working P on a longer line, at liberty, etc.

All in all it was a great day that we capped off by Cowboy Man demonstrating how he's been working with P on her "food aggression" in the stall.  She's getting a lot less witchy about her food, but it's taking some serious work to get her to be polite when you are close to her (as opposed to only being polite when you chase her off her food).
Playing nice with our foods
It was a great trip and the really fun news is that for our next visit, we'll likely be on a trail ride!!!!!  Cannot wait.

I'm quite certain that I'm leaving out important details.. but my brain is fried from a week of family events, more moving and total lack of horsey stimulation.  Hopefully this isn't a continuing trend (yikes, I'll be a marshmallow brain in no time).

Hope everyone is staying cool and getting some great rides in!  Now if only summer would return to the northwest....


  1. Hey girl, some of the photos didn't come through! Sounds like she is doing awesome and it sounds like this is turning out to be such a GOOD decision!! Happy for the both of you :)

  2. I think I fixed it!! It was our videos that blogger was refusing to show.. hopefully they come through now :)

  3. Pia looks wonderful, and it sounds like this is really turning out to be a fantastic experience. Really interesting to read about, and the llama's adorable!

    P.s. I was able to see all the pics and vids, so I think it's fixed.

  4. Pia looks great! Aren't you happy you decided to send her to nice cowboy horsey camp?! Enjoy the trail ride :)

  5. She looks really good!! I wish we had a horsey summer camp like that around here! I love the videos and she must make you so proud! My monster has been away at "great grandma's house" for 4 months now. But no one works with him :-( I don't even see him because he's too far away. He has nothing to do with the herd he is with. if they are at the barn he will stay in the pasture and vice versa.

  6. I was so hoping for a video of said boy working her. That would have been fun.

    She looks fabulous. Hope you get more pony time soon.

  7. Sounds like she's doing fantastic! What a good girl. You must miss her so much. I'm glad you get to visit her. I can't wait to hear how the trail ride goes. :D


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