the rain..rain..rain..rain day..in opening up the panels for the four horses so they can have some relief from the muck and get to the long narrow hilly pasture on Pima it’s interesting to observe the horses..
the girls go to the pasture and Sampson stands off alone..pellets please..that’s his cue..so pellets it is..he’s putting on much needed weight and looking like he feels much better..he has his snack..leisurely munching and looking around some to be sure no one is going to join in..the only horse up in this area and near him is Jae..thirty year old quarter horse..bay in color ..black mane and tail..furry as a bunny in this weather with his winter coat. as timid as they come..Jae asks if he can join Sampson..asking by looking Sampson’s direction..leaning toward him a little..”may i?”..and for the first time since he’s been here Sampson pins his ears back..”no”..i’ve seen Sampson share with Jae before but this time when Jae asks again..politely but persistant..taking one small step toward the pellets..Sampson pins his ears again and semi lunges forward..”NO!”..Jae wanders off to the hay pile..bermuda grass hay for him. ..
a few hours pass and rain starts again..raining enough to make the farm one big lake..standing water everywhere looking for a place to go..hopefully it will ease up soon..standing under one of the shades for cover from the rain i notice Sampson in between the tractor and the trailer..he looks at me..looks at the hay pile..looks at me..looks at the hay pile..am guessing he has figured out that would be a nice dry place to eat and his request is for hay..that’s easy to fix..
the girls are standing under the big branchy eucalyptus tree waiting for dinner there..so they have decided they would like to eat under the tree..out of the big green dish and together..he would like to eat alone..and so they do..and it’s all good..it’s just all good…
this a.m. is black sky..bright stars..and cold..cold..cold..but a welcome sight after days of rain..the ground is near frozen in spots also a welcome sight after days of mud and muck..
in the darkness the four silhouttes greet me..all four heads together..which is getting to be less common with them..every day they are experimenting with distance between them..Sally the Mustang especially..she’ll be off snoozing under a mesquite tree or grazing by herself or explore the arena..
next to expand his comfort zone is Sampson..his draw to alone time is his treats..the pellets..everyday his weight improves and after leisurely enjoying his snack alone he finds a quiet place and snoozes..takes a nap..takes a break..it’s been a long haul for him..he can relax now..he can heal…..
Jade would be next in learning to be comfortable with some alone time..she was the one with the most separation anxiety on arrival..she would bolt back to the group if led twenty feet away..now she grazes at a hay pile oblivious that the others are fifty yards away..each in a different direction..
and finally Bella..she wanders off to see other horses..not to explore..not to find food..not to snooze..but to tease..bug..play at the fence with whoever will join her..
and i see how various trainers and teachers found the “pressure – release”..”pressure – release” system..they learned it from the horse..they go away and come back..go farther and come back some..the herd is safety..the buddy is safety..a little mental pressure at a time..back off..try again..
my friend says “find the trouble line and work below it”..the pressure – release..go away and come back..know when too much pressure is too much..the trouble line..the mental trouble line..the horse knows where the trouble line is.the line where he gets in trouble..where mental pressure is too much..where flight or fight kicks in..where instinct.and adrenaline take over..
when you don’t know where the trouble line is it can be trouble..when you know where it is and push above it that can be trouble..and i wonder..is the trouble line the same with every horse..no..read the horse..he will tell you..by his body language..by his breathing or holding his breath..by his movements or lack of..by what he’s saying and isn’t saying..and sometimes he won’t tell you..”surprise!”..and i watch these four experiment and raise the line..raise the bar..extend their comfort space move away from being the little “cluster of grapes” they were when they first came..
Dec 16 – a new voice
Dec 16 Fri
It’s a cold wind this a.m…a nice wind though..just above a breeze..the good thing is the wind will speed up the drying process of all the mud..speed it up just in time for the rain this weekend..a couple dry days will be good..the horses enjoyed being in the arena all day..the area with a few hills and some sand..area to trot if they want..to snooze under the single mesquite that stands near the fence..to experiment with their expanding comfort zones..and horses to play with across the fence..
Am loading up the green double wheel hay cart with bermuda..taking hay to my guys..alternating the feeding schedule..so there isn’t a routine..a “we always get fed first”attitude..an impatient temper tantrum throwing horse can do a lot of damage..kick rails or fence..biting whoever thinks about cutting to the front of the feed line..so I alternate..mix it up..teach patience and taking turns..do they get it overnight..no..do they get it after awhile..mine did..that’s all I can speak for..one thing I noticed..if fed in a straight line down the fence it is far more orderly..more patient..more waiting their turn..if fed out in the open area in more of a circle there is more movement..more “I want what you’ve got”..more jostling and one sends one off their hay who sends another off theirs who sends another off theirs..
As the last big loose flake of falling apart grass hay is balanced carefully on top of the rest ..loading the hay cart with more than it’s meant to handle so two trips aren’t necessary..risking the chance it will all topple off the sides..i hear a nicker..a voice I don’t recognize..there it is again..a soft very low tone..throaty..calling not demanding..beckoning..it’s Jade..she found her voice..it’s the first time for her and only the second horse of the four to nicker hello in the morning..Sampson the high withered gentleman ..and Jade the fearful at first now wanting to trust mare friend..the two blacks..the two buddies..did she copy him..i don’t know..it was Sampson also that helped Jade thru the first trim..that came up on his own and stood by her still as a statue and appeared to offer moral support or was he the lookout..the watchman while she let her guard down to have her feet touched or showing her to stand still and trust..all I know is the more they teach the more I learn how much there is I don’t know..