Ride 13: Lessons to learn

I did ride today–bright, sunny, chilly day–but not until later in the afternoon than I wanted, due to a site visit from the solar people in the morning and some internal upset.  Finally all that was out of the way, and I got on Rags with some difficulty but measurably less than when I started.   He was in the mood to “Get this OVER with; it’s too close to feeding time.”  He was reasonably cooperative at first, but increasingly concerned that the person on his back had forgotten about supper.  So we had a shorter ride than planned, and in some places some pretty determined resistance, but worked through most of that.  Getting back off was a struggle because he would NOT line up near the portable stall so I could use the top rail for assistance, let alone use a lower rail to brace my left foot on so I wasn’t standing in the left stirrup too long while hoisting my right leg over.  But it finally worked.

Besides “Never start a ride after 3 pm if you feed at 4 pm” which is kind of like not taking your preschooler grocery shopping too close to *their* mealtime…Rags definitely has a preschool attitude at that point,  I learned that for sure it’s going to take ground training + work under saddle to get him to shift his hindquarter where I want it…for instance, in standing near the portable stall or any other fence-like object.  He did better on some “whoa” commands today and just as bad on others.

Oh…the horses have started gnawing on the old trailer stairs which last year I had to use to mount Rags, but am not using now.  They hadn’t touched that thing for over a year (two years?) but now all of a sudden they’re gnawing on it and it’s dangerous–they could swallow splinters.  I don’t know what to do–it’s way too heavy for us to move.  I’ve never put feed on or near it.  They have abundant hay…(tearing hair out!)  Tomorrow I’ll go to the feed store and see if they have any deterrent products to put on it, but if that doesn’t work I don’t know what to do.

But on the brighter side, he is catching on to *some* leg cues for turns (trying them w/o using the reins), and is beginning to “weave” through the line of bur oaks more fluently.  He still alerts to the old deer feeder and the machinery in the construction yard, but appears less worried…just wants to stand and look for a moment, but when is easy to get moving again.  I rode him out of the Near Meadow into the south East Grass today and he suddenly spotted cattle in the field across the highway…THAT got his full attention and zero interest in getting nearer.  That field is higher than our side of the highway…not sure how a horse processes distance on slopes.  We walked, stopped for him to take a look, walked on a ways, stopped again. The cattle were looking at him, too, they and their calves, so was it being looked at?


6 thoughts on “Ride 13: Lessons to learn

  1. Hi – hope you and yours, and the horses, are both well and sane. If the stairs are not going to be needed for anything, take a chainsaw and saw it into pieces that you can handle and send it to the dump. Or you could dump kerosene over it and light it off – kind of dangerous if near anything you don’t want torched. Are the horses just bored that they are eating wood? This business of caring and raising horses is worse than children – children at least will grow up. But have fun with the riding.

    1. I don’t know why they’re doing it. Horses in stalls, or in very small paddocks, do often gnaw on wood, but these guys are loose all the time in a minimum of an acre, with access to the (metal) barn, water, salt, etc. Their mineral block is getting low, but it’s not gone and they’re still licking it, so it’s not mineral deficiency. They have goats and cattle to watch on two sides of the current lot, and they have each other, plus visits from us at breakfast, midday, afternoon, supper, and night hay distribution. If they’re bored, they’re working at it.

      The chainsaw is being worked on–it was practically new when it quit, and R- couldn’t figure out how to fix it. The steps are useful at this point to form a sort of chute preventing Rags from standing at 90 degrees to the mounting rock–without them, it’s a similar situation to the portable stall one, where he swings out with nose to the stall, and body directly away from it. I can also use the corner post of the top platform that extends above it, to grab onto and brace while dragging my right leg over, though I don’t need it every time now. I would like to have a chute-like setup–it’s a safety issue, since the most vulnerable time for any rider is mounting/dismounting, and mounting is a little more dangerous than dismounting (gravity will always get you to the ground, but head first on the other side of the horse is a bad way to go. Been there, did that, still have the brain injury.)

    1. And as some of us remember usenet stories about someone putting ‘anti-lick’ stuff on a fence then turning around to find the beaver disguised as a horse slurping down the hot stuff. I know that bitter apple discouraged our cats but I doubt it would help with horses. The nice thing about that was it was a spray bottle so you could get a good covering without using a lot. Maybe water and some spices mixed together and spray that on to see if it discourages them?

      1. I could always try putting the very expensive apple-flavor supplement powder he doesn’t like on it…but then Rags might like it. Rags seems to like everything. Our chain saw is in the shop waiting for “parts” and we’re due really bad weather tomorrow and into the weekend so…not going to try pry-bar and hammer dis-assembly until later. I’m offering extra hay in the hopes that deters whichever of them is doing the gnawing.

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