A few weeks ago a friend of mine was having problems getting close to one of her horses. It was a new horse that had been neglected and didn’t trust humans. The mare also had a 4 week old foal that no one could touch. I explained that sometimes doing nothing is what we need to do. I suggested “undemanding time”. This is where you simply go into your horses paddock area and sit. Don’t watch or stare at your horse as this can create pressure on the horse. Watch your horse or if your horse is comfortable, groom them. The point is you don’t ask them to do anything. Most people are always asking their horse to do something, stand, walk, ride, etc.. This is your time to just hang out with your horse. My friend’s son went out the next morning and did just what I had told him. I received this heart warming picture of him and a foal that came to him, just because she wanted to. Isn’t that amazing! If you really want a relationship with your horse they have to know you are there for them in this very simple way. Try it, over time you will notice a difference.Did you visit? Leave a comment!!
Archive for the ‘Natural Horsemanship’ Category
Yesterday, I returned to Whirlly Bird Farm to help Elaine and her sons with their horses and to check on their progress. A few weeks ago I played with 2 week old Summer (the white one) and was able to play with a string and almost got her haltered. During this visit she came to me within a few minutes. Our shy little foal, Libby wouldn’t get close enough to touch but did get within a few feet of me. The two foals enjoy playtime away from their mothers. I also got to see the newest arrival, Sadie who was just a few hours old. It was extremely hot and both mother and foal were due for some much needed rest.
During this visit I played with two of their miniature horses demonstrating the use of the friendly game with a carrot stick, the porcupine game to move the front and backend of the horse, moving the backend with a carrot stick and backing the horse up with the stick and using the porcupine game. I also demonstrated the yo-yo game. With all these babies there will be plenty of playtime projects and Elaine and the boys will continue to work on haltering so they can begin leading the mothers and foals around the pasture. The best thing about this family is they aren’t in a hurry and understand that’s so important in the building of any relationship. I look forward to hearing their progress and my next visit. Did you visit? Leave a comment!
A few weeks ago my friend, Elaine asked me if I could help her with a few of her horses. She had two mares (miniature horses) that each had foals. Breezy had a two week old foal and Lady’s was four weeks old. Lady had been neglected, she didn’t like being touched and her foal wouldn’t let anyone near her. I am a firm believer in natural horsemanship and find that Pat Parelli’s seven games is the best place to start. All games begin with the friendly game. If we are to build a relationship with the horse they must first know we do not intend to hurt them. I began by playing with Breezy, first by rubbing her all over with my hand. When I went to pass behind her she turned. This tells me the horse does not trust me. When this happens I go back to the beginning, starting at the head and play the game until she lets me go all the way around her.After sucessfully playing the game with my hand I played it with a savvy string and with a rope halter. While playing with her I played with her baby Summer too. Playing with her feet and legs is important and eventually I was able to get the halter on her foal. I didn’t tie it, I will save that for another day when she is more comfortable with the idea.
Lady on the other hand was a different story. I let her and her foal stay in the pen while I worked with the other horses. From time to time I would get close enough to let her sniff my hand. I never let her know I wanted to touch her, it had to be her idea. Eventually I was able to touch her face and then rub her on her body and even hug her. Libby, her foal wouldn’t let me to close. While hugging her mother I would stroke her back gently and then take my hand away. The idea was to get her use to being touched without asking for to much. Elaine, was quite emotional when she saw me with Lady. She really wanted to get close to her horse. If we take small steps it will make a huge difference in the relationship with our horse. That night Elaine and her son went out to play with the horses. While she was successful with Summer and Breezy she was quite upset that after almost an hour of trying, Lady wouldn’t let her near. She wanted to be with this horse so much that she didn’t realize the pressure she was putting on her. It’s like when someone is giving you a dirty look or starring at you, you can feel the pressure without them even touching you. Once she understood this she tried again and was more successful. I look forward to more stories about the horses of Whirlly Bird Farms. Did you visit? Leave a comment!
I was sitting with my 4-H members doing a word puzzle (matching one word with another, example horse – shoe) and the word barn – sour came up. “What is barn sour?” they asked. When a horse would rather stay with his buddies then ride with you or races back to the barn at the end of a ride, it is often referred to as barn sour. But, is this what your horse is really telling you? Horses are prey animals. They eat grass and therefore are at the bottom of the food chain. They live in herds as there is safety in numbers. A foal is taught to stay close to it’s mother and that the place of safety if he is separted from her is with the herd. If the lead horse senses danger he runs and all the other horses follow. He who stops to ask questions ends up being dinner. Horses who live in domesticated surrounding find the barn as their comfort zone. When we ask a horse to leave his buddies and the barn we are taking them away from their safety and out of their comfort zone. Until the horse feels we are a good leader this will not change. When spending time with your horse it is best to venture a short distance away from the barn, adding distance with time. As you develope a trusting relationship with your horse he will respect your leadership and feel more confident about leaving the herd.
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Tuesday I got to spend the day with my trainer, horseman, Carroll Williams of Mardela Springs, Maryland. It had been about 2 years since our last session and we were both pleased with all that I have accomplished. When I met Carroll, I was a desperate woman. I had had my horse, Sundae for about 5 years and was at a dead end. We were at the point I just couldn’t get her to go. The trainer I was working with at the time told me Sundae was to much horse for me and to get rid of her. I thought some riding lessons might help as I really didn’t ride much. Which is why I couldn’t understand how this horse was to much for me. At my first riding lesson I rode a lesson horse. At the end of class my instructor told me I rode fine and I needed to get a new horse because Sundae and I weren’t a good match. She had never even seen us together! After a few lessons I quite. I was learning the Parelli method of horsemanship and this Parelli instructor just didn’t seem to fit into the program as I understood it, if you know what I mean. She did give me the name of a natural trainer, Carroll Williams. A few weeks later I was riding on the beach with Sundae and within minutes of getting on her she crow hopped and flipped me over her head. All the way home my husband, Terry kept saying “Your getting a new horse”. We decided to call Carroll and if he said I needed a new horse I would do what he said.
My first class with Carroll was stressful to say the least. What I noticed about him was he never made me feel stupid like some trainers did. He was polite, he asked if he could show me something or if he could ride my horse. He told me my saddle was all wrong, darn that salesman! I knew we needed something with a wide tree. He could tell me a lot about the horse. He wanted to know everything about us. At the end of the class I held my breath as I waited for his verdict. Would I get to keep my horse? I will never forget his words.
“Lady, I don’t know what people have been telling you but, you don’t need fixing. There are a few things we need to work on but, you have a great horse here and there is no reason to get rid of her” he said. That was probably about 8 years ago and Sundae and I are still going strong. We are now preparing for a big charity event in New Jersey called the Dancing Horse Challenge. Carroll worked with Sundae and I and all the other horses too. He finally got to meet Savannah and fell in love with her. I’ll keep you posted on our progress and it won’t be another 2 years before I have a day with Carroll. His insight on the horse and his guidence have been the reason for my success. I would suggest Carroll to anyone, it is far worth paying to spend the day with him. He works with me one on one with my horses and that sure beats any clinic where I have to share an instructor with 10 other riders.
When it comes to horses, Carroll Williams has been the most influential person in my life.
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Well, our little horse,Savannah is now 14 weeks old ( 3 1/2 months) and is now having playtime with big sister, Cheyenne. The two horses seem to get along great and Savannah really enjoys having a close relationship with another horse. I am hoping to start socializing her with other horses when she is about 6 months old. This week was bath time for Savannah. I don’t want Terry feeling left out so, I asked him if he’d like to help with that first bath. Needless to say he had some ideas of his own which included using a long wand to spray her. The end result was me getting very frustrated and getting knocked on my butt!
We have to remember that those first few baths are not about getting the horse clean but, introducing her to the bath experience. Any animal, human or other will be uncomfortable having cold water sprayed at them. I bath my horses in the back yard and don’t ever tie them. It is important to have room to work. The horse is on a lead rope and when spooked will run in a circle. The last thing you want is to get you or the horse tangled up in the hose or other objects. What I noticed was Savannah’s fear of the sound the water made coming out of the hose. Once I played the friendly game with the spray nozzel and set the water on mist setting she calmed down. We played friendly game with the sponge, towel and scrapper. If you don’t know what I mean by friendly game, it’s taking an object the horse fears and playing with it by rubbing it on them and letting them touch it with their muzzle. This week Savannah received four baths, her pretty white coat was getting dingy and I had started calling her dirt ball. After her bath and a good towel dry I put her in a stall of clean saw dust to finish drying. I think one of my biggest challenges with her will be keeping my pretty little horse all snowy white.
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It has been a busy week for Savannah and it’s not over yet. Savannah is about 11 weeks old. This week she had her hooves trimmed for the first time. She did a great job, as did my farrier, Cindy Lowe. I guess all that time playing with her legs and feet paid off. She didn’t kick, bite or run away. I was so proud of her. She also did her first trailer loading, it took about two minutes to get her on the trailer. Other things we are working on include, the circle games, left and right and over the pole, she gets two feet on the pedestal and is doing the squeeze game between barrels. Her first assignment as a therapy horse was a visit with Ethan and Jewell Cox from Kentucky. Both children enjoyed petting her and look forward to future visits. For great horse gifts visit Country Time Creations. Did you visit? Leave a comment!
Well, Savannah has been with us for four weeks now and is 9 weeks old. She is adjusting to life here and is a picture of perfect health. She has a nursery beside the other miniatures for now and a play yard just for her. We will be moving a small play yard into the pasture with the other horses so she can begin to socialize daily. When she first arrived she was drinking 12 ounces of foal formula every four hours. She drinks from a bowl and only I feed her so we can develope a mother-baby relationship. She is now drinking her bottle of milk every five hours. I do look forward to getting to sleep through the night but, that won’t happen for as few more weeks.Here is a record of her training so far. Day 1: play with savvy string, play with legs & feet so she learns not to kick. Day 5: learns first trick, the bow. Day 6: porcupine game, front & hind quarters. Day 8: introduce halter. Day 10: introduce lead rope. Day 12: first grooming, feet too! Day 14: introduce yo-yo game. Day 18: introduce first obstacle, the pole. Day 22: walk out into smaller pasture, introduce other horses. Day 28: introduce circle game. Stay tuned for more on Savannah. For great horse gifts visit Country Time Creations . Did you visit? Leave a comment!
Photo’s by Leva Taylor
Part two of our story:
Before going to get our new baby, I made two quick phone calls. One was to my vet and the other my trainer. I knew that they would both offer two different pieces of advice, but I needed to have some idea as to what was ahead of me. If I took this little filly home, I wanted her to have a good chance of making it.
We loaded the trailer with hay to serve as a bumper and off we went. Loading her was easy, one of the boys just picked her up and put her in the trailer. I rode with her in the back of the trailer. It was a good thing I did, she got her leg caught in one of the strings of the hay bale. She was able to get loose but, tried to climb out getting all four legs stuck in the hay bales. As we rode home I comforted her and talked to her. Considering all that she was going through, she was pretty calm. Once we got home, Terry carried her to the stall and our new adventure began.
The foal needed milk every four hours which meant a 3:00 a.m. feeding . I feed her from a bowl so, it doesn’t take long to feed her. The next day, Terry took down the old round pen panels and built a play yard. Caring for her was important but, most of all I had the responsibility of taking over as her mother. I wasted no time in playing with her using my carrot stick and savvy string. If she kicked at me I had to discipline her just like the mare would. Most of all I had to keep her safe.
It took two days before I finally named her, Savannah. I was so scared she would die I didn’t want to name her. She is a spunky little filly and I know she is going to bring much joy and just like Cheyenne, teach me many lessons. By day five she had already learned her first trick, the bow. She is absolutely adorable!
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