Thursday, April 23, 2009

Willing Partnerships

Here's a picture from my last trail ride with friends. We went out to find all the M.I.A. carrots from the Daughter's ride.

We had great weather for it, and I spent some of the time working Cowboy through water--walking, trotting, and loping him through large puddles. You'd think he'd do that naturally, right? But not my Cowboy. He usually avoids water like crazy! This year was his best ever for going through it.

The first puddle we came to, of course, was the hardest. But I decided, this year, to work on our partnership. So, I reassured him AS I put the pressure on him to go over. I didn't release the pressure until he did it, but I added my hand on his mane as reassurance, and really praised him for doing it well.

Usually I'm a little more hard-nosed about it, with Cowboy anyway. When I first got him, I'd only had gentle, willing geldings who were easy to partner with. Cowboy, on the other hand, lacked trust and respect. He was very smart and could size up a rider. If you didn't know how to make him, he wasn't going to do it. He'd just as soon yank the reins out of your hand and run home.

Working with Beautiful is really rubbing off on working with all my horses in general. It reminds me that I need their willing partnership, not only their obedience, and I have to figure out a compromise to make it work with Cowboy the same way--a balance between respect/firmness and partnership/softness.

Also, it helps to reassure Cowboy in safe situations because it will carry over to stressful ones. When I first bought him if you comforted him by rubbing his mane, he'd look around like, DANGER--WHERE IS IT? So, someone must have done that a lot in his early training when it was time to be SCARED! Better I break that ASAP.

After the first puddle, he went through all the other puddles--which were much longer and larger--without a problem. Whereas, in the past, every water crossing was a new experience--a new battle.

The farrier came yesterday and trimmed a few of the horses--Beautiful was not one of them. He did look at her, though, and commented again how much like a "horse" she looks now. She is definitely more relaxed. The warm weather really mellowed her. She has been wonderful to work with.

She's still shedding off, so she's a bit scraggly, and looks thinner, though I'm feeding her the same. I'm wondering if she's not in another growth spurt. There are times when what I feed her makes her put on weight too fast and you can feel it in her neck--but now she can eat quite a bit and not get fat. I just watch her closely.

All the horses seem happy even though the weather has taken another turn toward the COLD end of the spectrum. There has been no rain since we planted our hay, but lots of clouds!! We need rain!!

Don't forget to stop by and enter the drawing as many times as possible at my gardening website. I'm going to draw a name on the morning of May 4th. Just leave a comment or link it to your own blog and you will be entered once for every comment and three times for every time you link. . I know a lot of you who follow this Mustang blog or work with Mustangs yourself, also garden--so I look forward to seeing you over there as I plant my own and replace weeds with something, hopefully, beautiful. (I haven't had any die yet).

Happy Trails!


  1. I like that idea of a partnership with your horses, or with any animal. A relationship where you really read one another, and work in sync, with respect. I think the animals sense this, too.

  2. That sounds so much like what I have to do with Willow. She cannot be pushed into things just taken through it together! Love reading your blog!

  3. I think that Cowboy and Cody are kind of similar. Cody is very smart and can also size up her rider. She can also be the most gentle but will try to get away with all kinds of stuff if she can (usually that's eating). I find that with the mustangs I'm really patient and clear when I'm asking them to do things or teaching them new things, but with Cody, because she's a little older and is domestic, I expect her to know things better than the mustangs, but in reality, she's just like them. I need to remember to be more patient and make sure I am clear (and fair) when I'm asking things of her.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.