Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mare Love

Thanks for all your lovely comments on our field trip.. I have to say I was pretty impressed too..

I spent most of today driving all over the mountains for work, so I had lots of time to sit and think about the mare and how the first month home has been and our progress.

I have to say that even I'm impressed at how much better we are going now than we were 4 weeks ago.  And honestly, the 10 days since our Mountain Trail adventure have been our best yet.
Before MT, it was a struggle to get the mare comfortable in the far end of the outdoor... she was still spooking at birds in the rafters in the indoor... and doing a really good job of leading me to/from her stall/paddock/arena.  Even without any deliberate follow up on our groundwork or obstacle work - since we've come home the mare has been quieter, braver, and more respectful of me on the ground.

I hadn't really put two and two together until today, but that long weekend of thinking outside the box seems to have given Prairie a lot more confidence in dealing with the drama of everyday rides (and life).  Yesterday's trip was the icing on the cake.  I definitely jinxed myself by mentioning we "hadn't had a spook/scoot in a while..." right before Prairie dog decided to spook/scoot away from the grandstand.... but she came back easily and immediately walked right back up to the grandstand area and sniffed the railing with her big elephant nose.

In point of fact, I'm pretty sure that was her first spook/scoot since the MT trip, because I can't think of one that's happened even inside, or down by all the scary jumps in the outdoor.. even at the canter..

So that's pretty cool.  That's really cool actually.  I can't remember if I've ever had a horse that was as calm and forward about new things as Prairie is (right now).  I guess my first pony was pretty spectacular.  But she was a nervous wreck for dressage (even at home) and really only calmed down at shows once you galloped out of the start box for cross country... so I wouldn't accuse her of being level headed, but I guess it wasn't really spooky...

All the other beasts I've had were head cases away from home.  puddles were scary, trailers were scary, new people??? also scary....

As a result, I'm going to make one of my tippy-top-top priorities to keep this mare's brain intact.  I want to be sure that I give her enough fun new stuff to think about that she doesn't have to get all demonstrative, spooky, or strung out just to express herself.

Anyone out there have fun puzzle/challenges that you've enjoyed with your horses? I can only ask Prairie to walk over the flower boxes and into ditches so much. :)  I think I'm going to be sure to keep free-jumping a part of our routine (she seemed to enjoy it) as well as maybe practice some targeting and get her a ball to chase around the arena... P1 seems to really enjoy that game...

What are some other fun, easy ways to keep her brain engaged and thinking?


  1. Cross training does wonders for horses and their every day problems. Love that photo.

  2. Definitely get a giant bouncy ball! Those are so much fun to play with :)

  3. I love Prairie!!

    I use clicker training for everything really. You could try to make obstacles like what they do in trail classes. Mailboxes, the L things you have to back through, sidepassing over poles, etc. Plenty of fun exercises you can do just with poles. I like the idea of the ball too. You can introduce her to things like slickers and umbrellas if she's never done that before.

    You can make a pedestal easy enough. I made mine out of an old tractor tire and plywood. I don't know if you really want to make things though. Is there water you can play in? You could teach her to pick things up. Picking up a whip or glove you "accidentally" drop is adorable!! There's lots of things. You might try doing a search on it for more ideas. Have fun!!


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