Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No one ever said this would be easy...

What do you get when you mix a naughty Quarter Horse, a fresh mustang, some round pen panels, and a rainy night?

Well, I'm sure you can guess:

Needless to say, it was a scary thing to see both horses in the same pasture and the round pen obliterated. However, the two didn't seem phased or injured, and they were calmly grazing together. (Luna and Gabby in the pasture next to them were quite upset at the ruckus the "kids" had caused, though).

Of course my main concern was whether either had been injured, but I could see no blood and they both trotted up to the fence to see me. Then, I wondered what the heck I was going to do about the whole situation. Thankfully, the perimeter of the property is solidly fenced, but the pastures are cross-fenced with electric braid wire. I could see that some parts fencing off the manure pile had been knocked down, but otherwise Sage seemed to respect the barrier between her and the other two horses.

I called Patrick to let him in on the news and see if he had any suggestions about where to put them. In the end, the best thing to do seemed to be to run the girls up to the barn (where the other three know to go in the morning to get grain) and corral them up in the arena. I knew Sage would follow them, and with little fuss, they were all in the arena.

The arena only has a 4 ft wall, and I was a little worried this wouldn't be a barrier enough. However, she seemed content to stay in there even when I took the other horses out and put them in their stalls (where she can just look across the aisle to see them). She was even comfortable enough to roll! She found the other horses' favorite spot and had a blast:

Soon afterward, I left her and Brandy to explore the paddock near the barn while I set up the round pen panels in the arena. Our initial idea had been to move the panels inside for the winter to make half of the arena a 60 ft round pen. However, we were going to put some extra boards up on the perimeter first to make the arena wall higher. Since I didn't have any way to do that, and it seemed as though Sage would stay wherever the other horses were (naturally), I figured it was the next logical step. Now that she knew she could bust through the panels outside, I wasn't going to take the chance again.

While I was setting up the panels, Sage learned a lot. She learned to drink out of the big trough, lick the salt block, and respect the electric fence (it bites!!). She was very offended when she first got shocked, trotting away with her ears back shaking her head, wondering how anything would have the nerve to do that.

It was easy enough to get her back into the arena, and I had a great time working in our full size pen. I went back to square one with Sage, teaching her to go, turn, and stop again. It was great to work in a place where she didn't feel constrained and the footing was even.

Now was the real test of whether she would listen to me, because all she had to do was trot away at any moment. We worked for a while, and she was a star. She learned to face me all the time, and to follow me when I walked away. I didn't try to touch her with my hands, but I used the lunge whip to do the same thing we'd been doing yesterday. Occasionally, she offered me her hind end, but every time I drove her forward and connected her back to me. She realized it was a much better idea to face me and pay attention than do anything else.

Afterward, I knew that the other horses were getting hungry, so I figured the safest place for her would be with Brandy and the barn while Gabby and Luna ate outside. With a quick horse shuffle, she eagerly went into the barn to eat with Brandy. She even explored the stalls all on her own!

Since the horses are loose in the aisle and have free access to their stalls, Sage had a chance to explore and trade places with Brandy several times. When I left, they were both calmly eating--with Gabby and Luna calmly eating outside. Let's just hope it stays that way!

No comments:

Post a Comment