Sunday, January 17, 2021

At Liberty In An Open Field With a Barking Dog and No Pivo

Yesterday, I did our At Liberty work in the pasture to see if I could keep Tumbleweed's connection when there was more to compete for his attention--greening grass, an Irish Wolfhound who likes to herd and play with him, and room to run.

*Remember, I do use treats in the "treat position"--both handler and horse facing the same direction, horse's head points forward, raise treat to mouth. I don't treat him all the time, but enough that this 'following' that he naturally does is becoming a more deeply ingrained habit. If not for the sporadic, specifically timed treats, I don't think we'd have had this connection in the field.

That said, here are two very short videos.  Short, because I don't have a PIVO, goshdarnit, and for half the time I was out of the camera's view.

In yesterday's post I said that this at liberty work might teach me what my horse will do when surprised by....fill in the blank....a barking dog.  Well, here it is: At Liberty with a barking dog.

Upon reflection, I noticed that Tumblweed is better trained than Piper, our dog. 😊  Bad dog mama!

Today, my husband and I are going to haul Tumbleweed and Foxy to a new trail for a hike. Tumbleweed still loves his Foxy Mama, but there is definitely a new dynamic between he and Beautiful Girl. It appears that Foxy was allowing him to get away with too many bad behaviors, and BG stepped in to be the disciplinarian.  However, she is sometimes his cow, too. So, I'm very confused exactly what their relationship is.  Whatever the case, his behavior with me has improved.  His curiosity and courage have improved. His ability to leave the herd has improved. His "At Liberty" has improved. Ergo, whatever Beautiful is doing must be working, even if it is a case of good cop, bad cop!

Um, BG is the 'bad cop', right? 


  1. My horse would ditch me for food in a hot second, and also for an active dog. Interesting change in herd dynamics. Have fun exploring that new trail!

    1. Ha! You’d probably be surprised if you did some at Liberty work. So, we didn’t make it to the trail. My husband started a bathroom project. Maybe today.

  2. You can't really fault T'weed for going after the dog; in the wild that would be a predator so he was protecting both himself and you. The true test is that he came back to you and trusted that you had the situation handled.
    Building a relationship with a horse is a beautiful thing!

    1. I give Tweed high marks! I was so impressed with his response. But I didn’t look at it as him going after the predator. That adds a different perspective, and makes my heart melt even more. The way he came back to my side was just amazing. If he had wanted to leave, it would have been the perfect opportunity. We come across loose dogs all the time. It’s my pet peeve. Every park has leash laws, but especially the equestrian park. Yet, no one puts their dogs on leashes. Horses run, dogs chase, it’s not safe. Your horse has to learn to stand its ground against them. There have been many times the dogs have come at us. Once, there was a homeless guy with a pack of 5, and they all surrounded us. The horses kicked one and threatened the others and we got by. I’d say it’s our number one most dangerous situation on urban trails. Tumbleweed will have plenty of practice, thanks to Piper.


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