Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bea Yewtee & The Blue Tarp

Horses spook.   It's part of their nature and what helps this large prey species survive in a world full of horse eating predators.

Unfortunately, when we are riding the horse, they also tend to spook at things that really don't strike us humans as being worth giving a glance at, let alone turning tail and running away from!

Things that can fall into this "What!? Are you kidding me!?" category include scraps of paper, leaves floating in the wind, sparrows, shadows, and reflections.   More understandable spook causers are falling tree limbs, dark potentially deep puddles, mountain lions suddenly appearing out of nowhere (or, yes, a kitten), and blue tarps.

Yes.   Those very popular blue woven polyethylene coated all purpose lightweight tarps.   With their easy movement in the breeze, their crunchy noisy texture, and their bright blue sheen, they can truly make a horse very worried very quickly.

And so, accordingly, blue tarps make for really good training tools with horses both young and old.

This past week, while doing groundwork with one of our younger horses, we brought a blue tarp into the arena.   This was her first encounter with it.   And even though it was quite some distance away, she snorted and was on Ultra High Alert.   But with a little help and guidance, she soon discovered it was not going to kill her.

In some trail classes, blue tarps are part of the obstacle course.   I would speculate that a true good working horse on the range would be expected to be able to cope with tarps and so much more.   And of course police horses would be trained to tarps as well.   But a dressage horse?

By nature of her breeding (Da Vinci x Bustron) and her owner's ambitions, Bea's planned future is as a dressage horse.   So this young mare is not likely to have to perform over or even near blue tarps.   At least, that is what one would expect.   (Never say never.)

Tarp training goes beyond showing off, having a horse standing on or even UNDER a tarp.   It works on the general relationship of horse and handler.   It gets us closer to being able to tell the horse something is safe and having them believe us.   The tarp training helps the horse develop mentally while also encouraging their natural curiosity in a safe training environment.

And actually, it is good fun!   All good things.   :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

White Pastures & Spring Vaccinations

Winter has arrived, albeit a bit later than usual, but it is here now.  At last for a while anyway.  We have snow everywhere.  However, with maple sugaring weather forecast for this week (pleasantly warm days, crisp cold nights), winter does not have much longer to go.

With the approach of Spring, we are once again looking forward to a visit from our veterinarian and the delivery of spring vaccinations.  And for those horses who will be leaving the farm, whether for pleasure trips, competitions or training sessions, blood will be taken and submitted for Coggins tests for Equine Infectious Anemia

Now may also be a good time to check on how long it's been since WE have received our most recent Tetanus boosters!  Ouch.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Winter Browns

Last winter, we had A LOT of snow.  And no really good January or February thaws.  The snow piles and snow banks grew to impressive heights.  Managing the snow became a chore in itself.  And an added expense as we paid to have snow moved from one place to another.

This winter has been just the opposite.

We had an impressive 15 inches of the white stuff just before Halloween!  It quickly melted away.  Then, we had another storm for Thanksgiving.  Then.  Well.  Nothing really.

The snow plow has been sitting idle.  The snowblower has been collecting dust.  The new snow shovels still look brand new.  We have grass exposed in the pastures.  We're even considering tapping some of our maple trees.

Instead of a snowy white winter, we have been dealing with a rather brown winter.  It's not right.  Meanwhile, family and friends in Europe are being pummelled by heavy snows and bitter cold weather.  It's just not right.

Some people suffer from winter blues.  Not us.  No, we are suffering from winter browns.

Having said all that, an article in this week's Intertown Record newspaper reminds us that only a few years ago, we had a similarly snow free start to the winter.  Then all hell broke loose on Valentine's Day and the local Sunapee Mountain received many feet of new snow during the weeks that followed.

So, I guess there's still time for more of the white stuff....  But for now, the horses are fully coated and nibbling on brown dried grass in their pastures.  Odd.