Monday, April 17, 2017

Walking Through Water: An Easter Miracle

On Easter, we had my two sons, and my brother and his family, over for dinner and an Easter egg hunt.  Every year, we have a hunt for kids and adults where many of the eggs contain vast sums of money  a few dollars.  To be exact, I  hide $60-$80 in 1's & 5's.  This tradition has served me well to lure my adult kids back to their mommy's house. 😆







Leah, I Brought the Posse!

After Easter dinner & egg hunt, I had  a date with my trainer, Rebecca, to take Leah to the state park and practice water crossings.  Like Superman, I ducked into the bathroom and changed wardrobe from Easter mommy to bad-ass trail boss. 😂  I texted Rebecca--"done early--ready anytime." And, she texted back, "putting up my trailer and will be right over."

Soon, we were loaded up and hauling Cowgirl (Shiloh's palomino horse) and Leah down to the trail head.  There was a significance in Rebecca riding Cowgirl--our alpha mare--which you will soon discover if you choose to read further.

The big, bad water puddles.

Saddled up and heading down the trail, Leah saw a long, skinny bit of standing water, aka teeny puddle, in the far-off eastern distance.  Leah began to veer off the path and drift southward, through the stands of trees, to avoid it. I directed her back.  Here is what we did.

1.  Approach water. (Leah wanted to bolt away.)
2. Approach long, skinny puddle from the side and try to go over. (Leah would bolt away.)
3. Approach long skinny puddle from side, crop in hand, Cowgirl (alpha horse) blocking her bolting path. (Leah bolts other way.)
4. Repeat above items. (Leah finally steps through.)
5. Immediately praise and move forward.

Quite quickly, we were upon the 2nd and much bigger puddle.  This one was wide and long and, apparently, an incubator for viscous little bugs.  Here is what went down at puddle #2.

1. Approach water (Leah veers away.)
2. Approach water from side with two trees in order to block her in. (Leah makes way around trees.)
3. Park alpha mare to the side of Leah, hold crop in other hand, ask Leah to approach and stand at puddle's edge. (Leah approaches and stands. Tries to bolt, but can't.  I praise her. She starts to relax.)
4. Approach and stand again. (Leah is happy and relaxed again.)
5. Ask for a step into the water. (Leah gives it.)
6. Ask her to cross water. (Leah bolts to the left again.)

At this point, we're starting to get the picture that Leah won't be pressured across the water.  The only clear success we had was getting her to approach it and rest--which was a big step up from seeing water in the distance and trying to avoid it.  The approach and rest became our main goal.

1.  Approach and rest. (Cowgirl--alpha mare-- is sick of the bugs and Leah not going over the water.  By this time, she has shown her how it's done a million times (Leah doesn't care) and she has blocked her path about the same amount of times.  Cowgirl is at the end of her rope. Leah, however, is perfectly content to rest at the puddle's edge with bugs swarming her legs and belly.)
2. I stand up a bit in my saddle and free up Leah's back, then ask her for a step.  (Leah, for some reason, decides it is time, and she crosses the water. (Yay, Leah!  I praise her to high-heaven, not knowing what encouraged her to finally make that decision for herself.)
3. We move on to next puddle.

The last few puddles, one rather large, were much easier to cross.  In fact, Leah crossed the largest one immediately.  The last couple were small puddles and she gave me a bit of guff--but not near as much as when we started out.

We have a plan.

Leah learned an important lesson last night.  She learned that she cannot avoid puddles and, if she wants to save time and get back home to her food, she needs to confront them sooner rather than later.  If she doesn't confront the puddles, her partner (me) will stay at the puddle until it's done.

And that is my plan for the future.  I don't believe Leah is scared of water, I think she has chosen it as the newest thing on which to disagree.  She has to learn that if she does a good job, that is the surest way to end the trail ride.  I have to always be prepared to spend the time to get her through it.  I will not use high pressure, I will use patience, and I will wait for Leah to make the choice to cross.

16 comments:

  1. " I don't believe Leah is scared of water, I think she has chosen it as the newest thing on which to disagree."

    You've got a handle on her, for sure. For those of us who want long term partners, it takes time to find all their sticky spots (or whatever they're considering sticky at the time) & work through them. So worth it.
    p.s. Love the idea of bribery for larger family functions.

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    1. Yes, a sticky spot can just be a distraction, a vote against getting the job done. I think she will learn that the job is going to get done anyway and she's only making it worse.

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  2. I believe patience and persistence is the key to Leah's puddle problem. I don't know if it's true or not but I've been told horses don't like to cross puddles because to them it looks like a hole in the ground. They can't judge the depth so they are afraid of them. That said I've had horses that liked nothing better than to paw and splash in puddles and take the occasional roll.so who knows...

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    1. There was one of those on our last trail ride. I hope Leah gets there. I want her to know to trust what I ask her to do.

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  3. I have video of my adult children hunting for their well hidden baskets & a handful of $ filled plastic eggs (with me laughing in the backround, guess I had way more fun then they did). I've tried a variety of bribery methods, but in the end they didn't want to do it anymore. Bunch of party poopers! You are never too old to have fun. Glad you enjoyed your family time. Great water crossing work!! I think it's a struggle for a lot of horses, including mine.

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    1. We've had egg hunts with the entire family in years past. Grandparents, parents and kids. I don't think we ever outgrow them.

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  4. Leah's water is like Carmen's rustling grass. Good for you for dealing with it.

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    1. Yes, I think so. It's just a thing to distract her from the job. The last ride, she suppressed all those silly fears because she has learned that they prolong the ride. :)

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  5. Great finish for you and Leah! I am by means any expert, but I tend to agree with your "newest thing on which to disagree" comment.
    Long ago my cousin had a horse that I chose to jump on and ride bareback one day. We had a great ride and I decided to ride up to their house to join the picinic. This involved crossing a bridge over a small creek. Everyone was shocked when they figured out I was riding up by the house and I was met with.. how did you get her to go over the bridge and water. We just went and neither of us thought twice about what apparently had been a block for my cousin and that horse for some time. But I had never rode this horse before. We had no history, we just wanted an adventure. You are doing a great job!
    Glad you had a wonderful day!

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    1. That's amazing and I've seen similar scenarios 100 times. It's a you and that horse issue, not necessarily a horse issue. The confidence we have in ourselves and our horse shows in our expectations.

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  6. Sounds like a productive day. My son is living with his "in-laws" temporarily while his girlfriend finishes school. He has a job, but they want to save money. Anyway, his girlfriend's mother is so sweet that she kept apologizing for taking my son away from me. She encourages him to call us, and when she asked him what we'd be doing on Easter day, he said, "My parents probably don't even know it is Easter." When he told me that, I said, "Oh, I knew it was Easter by all the people fighting over Easter baskets in Walmart." Also, the neighborhood got quiet with everyone going to church. That's always suspicious. I do miss putting on egg hunts for the kids, whether they be big or small, and it's only a matter of time before my son and his girlfriend get sick of all the snow where they are at and move back here, I'm sure.

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    1. Lol. You're probably right. I know I'm sick of the snow this year!

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  7. Really good work! Beamer to this day will not cross small flowing streams, the kind that are only a few inches to a foot wide, unless I get off and lead him over. He will go in and through any other kind of water, silly boy. I let him get away with it, I figure it is his only flaw and he only gets ridden occasionally so it isn't worth retraining him.

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    1. That's how I am with Cowboy, but oddly enough,he has started crossing water more willingly. Maybe I pressured him too hard in the past and it became a thing.

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  8. Hi there, sounds like you are making good progress with all the horses! We are still having rain, rain and more rain, so no riding for me, yet. Soon, I hope! I saw your comment about not being around much, tis true. But, I've been keeping up with your blog because (for some reason) it shows up in my emails, but I can't comment from there. ? I've just been putting one foot in front of the other, trying to dispel my boredom with this relentless rain, feelings of fatigue and a problematic sciatic nerve which has got me bogged down. See? Not much of anything interesting or amusing going on and I am so tired. Hoping to feel better soon when the sun shows its' warming face on us again. Horses, dogs and hubby are all good. My egg count is up to 60 - can you believe it? :)

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    1. That's a heck of a lot of eggs!! This winter has been hard on everyone. You're not alone. I've heard that you had good weather last week though. Unfortunately, more rain to come. Do you have a plan on how you're going to start back up with Eags and what you want to do with him this summer?

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.