Feb 12 building trust

irrigation came this week..on the ranch flood irrigation means hundreds of gallons of water travel down a two mile concrete ditch from the water district pump entering the acreage thru round ports..twelve inch holes in the ditch that allow life giving water to pour over dry ground like a river  making it’s way to back pastures thru shallow old dry rocky stream beds ..it’s back in the standing water in the pasture and mesquite park that this weekend’s trust building exercise met the 4 rescue horses..standing water has yet to soak in the ground and mesquite trees are starting to take their drinks..
having built trust with the horses in leading, handling and various basic horse skills a question now is how do they feel about water..not a bath or being sprayed but walking thru it..there are many opinions on horses depth perception..how they see things and many questions on it also..it appears it’s very different than ours..a shadow or wet area or water may be danger in the wild..instinct says flee..leave..run..it could be quicksand or unstable ground or very deep crevice..some horses follow you easily across these areas and some horses have to be reassured..the goal here is to see who is who..to see if any have resistance to the task..starting with the stream bed where the water came in..which in now just damp and dark the horses are led to it..Bella has proven to be a “water dog” since yesterday when the water came she was the only one that went out .. walked around in the middle of it..walked and explored and nibbled little tufts of grass that poked out of the water..the other three stayed on dry land and watched her..
so today it’s start with Bella..she walks up to the dark damp stream bed and stops..lowers her head..sniffs..tests it with her nose and raises her head and walks across..Jade..Sally and Sampson watch..Sampson is next as he is usually a willing guy..he follows Bella’s lead..checks it out ..lowers his head..sniffs..puts a foot out to touch and reassured it will hold him walks across..Jade does the same and Sally is last as the youngest and least handled..i put a long lunge line on her and we stand on the other side and gently coax her..toward us..the long line protects the person coaxing in case she jumps it instead of walking across..sometimes a horse will look .. lean back on it’s haunches and leap across instead of walking and it’s a guess where they will land..but we didn’t need the line..Sally has been watching and follows the rest..test run went well..off to the standing water in the pasture and mesquite park.
leading all four to the water’s edge it’s the same procedure on their part..sniff..touch with a hoof and hesitantly follow into the shallow water and soft ground..Bella and Sally are interested and curious..Sampson and Jade the blacks are less interested..Bella the paint and mustang Sally keep sniffing and following .. Jade and Sampson ask to leave..we let go of their lead ropes they wander to dry ground to graze and wait for everyone to come back..
wading around every once in awhile the horses paw at the water with a front hoof..splashing and pawing..sending water everywhere..horse people that have been around horses and water know it means they might roll..might lay down and roll in the water..when leading them it’s not so bad but when riding thru water better get em moving..horse people know too when swimming with horses don’t get in front of them..they might try climb up on you to get to higher ground..some get behind to hold their tails and let them pull you around in deep water..something to remember too..
not all horses can swim..
but no worries here it’s only inches of water..
                     inches of fun..inches of trust..the pictures tell the rest.
                                      water046.jpg image by agreenstories           
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