As I ride by this beautiful tree on my trail rides I really wanted to have it be my opening photo. The sunlight just glistens off of the blooms. I just love it and it makes me smile. I welcome you to my weekend coffee share. I have so much to share, can I get you something to drink as I fill you in on a months worth of happenings? I will tell you that this post is all about Horse Stories. Yep, my horses can sometimes be so all consuming for me as I worry about this, that and the other with them. I know I have a lot of readers that are not horsey folks and I will try and share in a way that should make sense to everyone. I hope the horse adventures aren’t boring, haha, you know I’m going to share anyways! I’ve run across some challenges which I’ve decided to take as learning lessons instead of beating myself up for even deviating from my training methods. I’ll explain. 😀
Before I get to the training issues I wanted to share this next photo that I took after the blooms on the tree. My favorite view between her ears!! I am starting to realize that this could be bittersweet as I am not sure how much longer I will be able to ride Miss Chloe out on the trails. She is having issues with arthritis that is affecting her left front knee and is limping more because of it. There are two large lumps on the knee cap that are getting a bit bigger as the months go along and she is very stiff in the mornings. She walks better once she gets going and today I decided to up her pain medicine and hope this helps her out.
She enjoys going out and I don’t think my tack and myself are too heavy for her. If she starts tripping or limping too much I will stop riding her and she will be retired. I will try and keep her as comfortable as I can but I do believe that “motion is the lotion” and so our rides keep her muscles in shape and I know if she doesn’t use it she will lose it and decline at a greater rate. I will monitor her progress this year and hope I have many more rides to come. I didn’t like the way she was limping today, it’s been a rough winter for her this year. She has my heart and has been with me for the last 17 years. She is 19 this year. ❤
WHAT A WINTER! YIKES! I know I shouldn’t complain but I feel better complaining about all the rainy weather we had this year. Okay, I know we need the rain and snow pack but it took a lot of patience (I had to tell myself be patient Diana, we will dry out eventually!) when you have to deal with large animals in outside pens and try to have a dry place for them to eat and sleep or just stand without standing in muck. I’m thankful I was able to keep my horses high and dry through the worst of it all. They do have a shelter to stand under, here are a couple of photos.
I sometimes keep a support wrap on Chloe’s back leg. I buy bedding for their stalls. They sell lots of different forms of shavings which help soak up the water and provide a dry place for them to lay down or roll if they are itchy. 😀 We haven’t seen this much rain in years.
The lesson I have learned is with Murphy who is 5 years old this year. I can’t believe that I will have owned him for 2 years now. I had decided when he arrived as a 3 year old and with his size and age I would not feed him horse treats of any kind from my hands. He is very food aggressive and I would even say that food is his currency as he would do anything for food. I love listening to podcasts and have some favorite horse podcasts and even searched for some called Positive reinforcement training (R+). I even watched some Youtube videos but I should have never given this R+ training a try a few months ago because I turned Murphy into a monster! (You may be wondering why I was even looking at this training method and what led me down this road and that is Murphy’s stubbornness, I thought the R+ would help – that’s a big NO!)
Murphy is a growing 17.2hh Thoroughbred who is very smart and aware of his size. He’s not mean at all but can be very stubborn and when I hand fed him hay pellets and/or treats he did very well in the beginning. He really wasn’t a monster mind you, he just is this giant horse who lost respect for my boundaries and for me in general. He can’t be in my pockets with his size, and I can’t think of any other way to describe it but I had to stop all hand feeding of any kind. If I want to give him anything to eat I put it in a bucket.
I really do not know much about R+ training and since I do not have a trainer to go to for that kind of thing, I’m going to do what I know best. Murphy and I are back on track with him respecting my space and I respect his. Nothing bad happened, he just was pushy and was disrespectful. (What got us back on track is I have to use a stud chain which goes over his nose on his halter. For non horsey people its like using a slip chain for dog training if you know about dogs. He respects this and I know how to use it kindly. He is very respectful now and his stubbornness has all but faded away.)
Now that Murphy and I are back on track I was able to ride him twice this last week. We have had to take this winter off of riding with all the bad weather. I did lots and lots of ground work and turn outs to keep him exercised. I rode him once at the beginning of January and then three weeks later we had nice rides. I’m looking forward to riding him much more often with the good weather we now have!
I was so angry with myself over the hand feeding debacle because I knew better and yet I went down this road and it backfired. It took me a couple of weeks to connect the dots as his behavior worsened with his disrespect. Once I figured it all out I told myself to use it as a learning curve. Not all horses can be hand fed treats, it’s just not a good idea. Just put them in a bucket and give it to them that way. I respect all trainers that use this method and I am sure there are horse personalities that do well with the R+ training. I will say that it is not anything I had ever learned in the 50 years I’ve been riding and my work with all the horse trainers I worked for in my youth. Murphy, Chloe and I are doing great – so I remind myself to keep it simple Diana! I got this! 😀
I’ll end with a photo of my sweet girl. Although I wasn’t riding Murphy this last month I was riding Chloe on the days I could. Just our half hour trail rides. The trails are not muddy and I can ride out the day after rain. I so enjoyed sharing all my horsey adventures as I ramble on and on about things. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend as I am smiling from ear to ear with happiness with my sweet horses. I LOVE to call them my ponies even though they are far from being any kind of pony!! ❤
Thank you Natalie for hosting the #weekendcoffeeshare. I enjoy sharing my world and this weekend it’s all about my ponies. I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead. I know I will!
Crazy Horse Loving Gal,