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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Horse Handling and Safety 101

Sherry over at Fern Valley Appaloosas has been doing a series of posts on handling horses and asked if a few others ould put in some info too.   She has been doing an excellent job and not sure if I have anything better, but I will put in my two cents anyways.

A few years ago I was down at Doug and Carol Schaffers place and we walked out in a psture of about 30 mares, and Doug was telling us the pedigree and earnings on all them.  I was amazed he could remember that much cause I can hardly remember my own, but thats off topic.  Anyways even though the mares came up for attention there was no fighting or anything and I was amazed, so I asked him and he says its not allowed when he's out there.  Just that  simple.  So ever since then I have made it a point to not let my ponies fight when I am around.  I dont care what they do when I am not out there, but when i am they can behave. 

And I found out it really wasnt that hard, once you expect something from a horse, they come to do it pretty easy.  I just had no idea it was possible in such a big herd.  But since I seen it was now I make it just happen.  I started small with making them back up from the fence when I throw hay over.  This was really important to me cause I feed off a round bale with a fork and didnt want anyone to get hit with the fork.  It was really easy to teach cause the reward is instant.  A couple horses that have done lots of leaning on fences for feed (like Neils horse) were a little harder to teach and I actually had to scare him a little the first time to get him to step away, but after that he just takes a step back as soon as I lift the fork. 

This video is me going out to feed the horses grain like I do every morning.  It is a little shakey cause it was around my neck while I was feeding.  
 A few things to note in the video:
--as I walk out there, they do not crowd around me and my bucket
--Even though they move around to other piles there is no kicking and chasing
--When I walk around by George, he lifts his head to look at me (respect)
--Even when Jamaica walks to me, he doesn't come completly to me cause I never invited him in and he never had a pile but still never got pushy with my bucket
--There are all ages (foal to 15) and genders of horses out here
--I walk towards her, Bailey walks away, even though it looks like she is turning her butt to me, she is just leaving.

I have no worries walking out there with a bucket or anything.  There is always a certain amount of space around me.  Even when i just go out with no reason, and they all come up for scratches, they move slowly around me and never do I feel I am in danger out there.  When i go catch a horse, I can get a hlater on the one I want and lead them away with out a problem.  And if I put a new horse or even one I just rode, they stay back till I have the halter off.  This saves me alot of trouble and the horse I am putting in there is more relaxed as well.  It gives them confidence that I will protect them out there.  Maybe I will try to get a video of catching them too.

This is long enough, so I will quit here and maybe continue on later  cause this is far from all there is in safety around horses.


Shirley said...

That looks like a well balanced, well behaved herd. I think you nailed it when you said, " once you expect something from a horse, they come to do it pretty easy." Because, when you expect something, you (un)consciously take the steps to make it happen. The trick is not to expect bad behavior.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Good post. I liked the video, too.
Even though some of the horses showed a bit of body language telling other horses to move out of their way or claiming a pile of food, there was no kicking or biting.
And best of all, they all gave you your space.


Kate said...

I agree - it's all in our expectations and consistency - that's really all training is when you come right down to it. That said, conditions may also depend to some degree on herd dynamics - very aggressive horses (horse on horse) take some special handling and care when you're in a loose herd situation - horse on horse aggression can be very dangerous to a human who is nearby.

fernvalley01 said...

Yes! Thanks Crystal! I hope KAte, and Shirley get on board too! .Well put post . Expect it to happen and it will, or put another way . Ask like you already know the answer is yes!

Cheyenne said...

I love the stuff Sherry has been sharing...and am glad you are in on it too. Even when you grow up around these animals it's always a good reminder and we should never be complacent.

Janice said...

Good post Crystal, very well behaved. My little herd is pretty good when it comes to feeding. They all stand a distance away while I fork hay into the wheelbarrow and they stay out of my space while I put it into their feeders, we still have to do some reminders on aggression while I'm amongst them but overall they are pretty good.What you said " once you expect something from a horse, they come to do it pretty easy" is a good thing to remember.

Linda said...

Great post Crystal!

Cheyenne said...

Found this from Ride a Good Horse, good post! Mind if I tag along?

aurora said...

Good advice, with visual support. It was nice to go along with you during your morning chores. You have a well behaved herd!