Monday, September 29, 2008

Mom, Moseying, and Mondays

My mom is so sweet. She always photocopies the Parelli column from Horse Illustrated Magazine and sends it to me. The latest one was called The Art of Moseying and it was somewhat applicable to my horse's recent anti-catching attitude (which, by the way, was also also an issue on Sunday. He ran and ran this time, like he did last weekend. I eventually got the halter on him, when he gave up.)
In summary, the article suggested that with horses, it's about being in the moment, but with humans, it's all about our agenda of what we want to accomplish with our horse, and we almost approach the horse in a rushed state, which feels predatory to horses. For example, My Boy's pasture could be considered his "home." When I enter his home, I need to be aware of how he is receiving me. I would not enter the home of a person who appeared threatening, nor would I have a good time in the home of someone who didn't acknowledge me and turned and walked away as I started up towards the front door. Is My Boy looking at me, with ears forward, with interest? Is he turning at or walking towards me? If he does turn from me, I need to get his attention and curiosity. I might make an unusual sounds, turn away from him and jog the opposite direction, something to catch him off guard and think, hey, what is she up to? The goal is to get him to face me and give me permission to approach. I will quote Linda Parelli from the column: "Everything starts from the moment my horse sees me, not when I catch him." I believe this is true. I am sure I am bringing my anxiety about catching him into the pasture with me. Goodness, but I probably can't change that, not without medication!

This is how My Boy looked every time he stopped running from me in his pasture on Sunday. He would not face up to me. He was very defiant, turned his head towards the fence, and would not look at me. What does this mean? It appeared to be defensive, yet not aggressive. Luckily, he did not turn his hind end toward me. I could even approach his shoulder and then lead him from under his chin (away from the fence and hot wire strand.) I am going to go back to the groundwork basics in the arena this weekend, getting him to face up. I need to get him moving his feet, thinking, and seeing me as his leader again.

I think it is important to approach the horse with respect, demanding the same from him. And to not be in a rush. That is the whole moseying concept. Once I have him haltered, instead of quickly leaving the pasture, I can lead him out slowly, wandered the fence line, pick up and toss out a few rocks, stop at the water trough.....make it leisurely, relaxed journey out. Most likely, we will both expend a little emotional anxiety and just relax. Luckily we have a leisurely stroll to get to the grooming area. After his pasture romp on Sunday, My Boy was quite warm and to cool him down, I took him him on a stroll around the neighborhood. It was like walking a dog, except I had a big sweaty one at the end of my line. We both needed some time to walk out, breathe, and let the adrenaline settle. Because despite the fact that it was a warm afternoon and all of his running, I know that sweat was what Chuck Kraft would call "emotional sweat." If I'd worked My Boy like that in the arena, he would not have gotten that worked up.

I do think that someone commented the other day that I am undoing 14 years of a bad habit. I do not know where in My Boy's life this developed or how many years he'd been troubling his handlers off and on in this department. I know that it was a deal breaker for one of his previous owners, who advertised him for sale, then couldn't even catch him to show him to a prospective buyer. I do not expect this problem to go away overnight, at this point I consider it to be more of a chronic disease that just goes into remission, only to occasionally flare up and need treatment. So for now, we are in treatment mode. This too, shall pass.

Now onto my newest charge this week, the Border Collie. I walked this dog a couple of times a week when he was a puppy several years ago, but have not stayed with him. He has a lot of personality and Border Collie-sms, as I am sure many of you that own a dog of this breed know. As I write, he is whining and panting at my side, after a round of barking at his food bowl full of food, and attempting to herd up the cats (which are nowhere to be seen, but he thinks he will find them and is trying to tell them to show up for dinner.) You see, he gets to lick their plates clean, and no cats means no cat dinners which means no plate licking!
Today was a tough Monday morning for me, for some reason. Luckily, it all got better after a vanilla latte and a little sunshine!


  1. I thought of you when I read that column! But I was pretty sure you don't read HI so instead I suggested the column in Western Horseman.

    Hope your Tuesday is better than your Monday :)

  2. i have a anti-catch horse too. He is getting better after a year of work, but we also don't ride him as much as we should. He responds much better to my hubby than me in the field. I am not sure why. Maybe he senses my anxiety.

  3. So there is the Border Collie you have been telling me about! And you thought my Aussie's were high strung! They just want a job to do! Mine like to herd me and the cats! Makes for great entertainment. They can be silly at times.
    BTW- do you want a cat? Lately mine have been driving me absolutely crazy. I don't know what it is with them having to go in and out, in and out. They aren't typically this bad.

  4. Paint Girl: I'll trade you my hard to catch horse for your indecisive cat! ;) I imagine it's the's warm, the squirrels and mice are in abundance as they prepare for winter....
    You'd love this collie. He's a hoot! He is fun and quirky. He likes to give kisses. He barks at random things, though. I wish I could bring him up to the farm to run with your dogs, he'd love that!

  5. Patience. He will get it. It seems like he likes this game. The run and catch me if you can game!! :) It will get better the more you work with him. You are right about it being good that he doens't turn his put to you. Good luck.

    And have fun with the border collie. I watched a show on them the other night. They are such smart dogs.

  6. You know Pony,
    I love your photo's! The one of your Boy with the goat face peering through the throatlatch is
    Thanks for sharing, so eloquently so,your catching trials.

    well, there is this gal at our barn that does a lot more Parreli than I do...she not only does the chase me game till the horse turns and walks to her...she actually demands the horse turns and follows her to the gate without the rope or halter...sometimes she spends quite a bit of time doing it too...but, they always do walk up to the gate with her and it is a thinkg of beauty!
    I think that sometimes she walks to them..not in a straight line, like a predator does, does meanderingly so..stopping to appear like she is not caring and then... she may pet them on the shoulder and love them a bit..but she always askes them to follow her to the gate and if they don't..she sends them off till they do!

    I know this too will pass into something more managable for you and your boy...the point of it is not in our time, but theirs. We have the agenda and they have three things in mind always..Comfort, Food And Safety...not particularly in that order!

    Now there is my mare...she always seems like she is coming to me when I get to the field! She comes straight for me then stops and pees! Almost every time too! Then she will turn and walk away...and I susally do her outdoor stall so I am not to concerned about it as I am not "catching" her yet. The one surfire way for me to get her attention though may seem weird...
    I walk away from her in circles with a carrot stick wapping the lash of it loudly on the ground...and she always comes to me...right up to me as close as she can get..I stop wapping it, and that is what she wants...she hates the pressure. I started that in the arena and it was a surprise event to have her join up wiht me when I was making all that ruckus with the stick!
    I will be tuning into to see what gets your boys attention!

  7. PG - I think that your love for My Boy and your patience will help him to trust you enough to to get over this catching issue. He needs your help. One thing that really changed my relationship with my horses was moving them to my backyard. It gave me the gift of spending time with them without any purpose or plans. I know how you're feeling about waiting for time to be with your horse and then having a list of things that you need to do with him in the time you've got. It's frustrating. But maybe just some time sitting on a chair in the pasture or doing something in there that has nothing to do with him or with catching him will break his expectation that you are going to take him out and make him work. And do you know about Rescue Remedy? It's a Bach flower essence that you can buy in any health food store. A few drops will calm you and if I sense that my horses are anxious about doing something, I'll take a little piece of apple or carrot and make a little hole and drop a couple of drops of Rescue Remedy in it to give them. I don't know why it works, but it always helps us. You'll get through this, I know you will.

  8. Love your site. Adding you to my blog roll. I admire you for following your dreams. I hope to get in the country soon;)
    Thanks for commenting on my site;) Come back anytime!

  9. Don't forget the old "two eyes" that My Boy needs to give you. Clinton Anderson talks about it all of the time. Not that your Boy would hurt you, but you have to be smart. Know what I mean?

  10. Good luck with your boy! I think the fall weather plays a big part in behavoir as well. Mine are acting like complete idiots at breakfast! Oh I love the Border Collie-isms! We have a border collie and what a character. They have the intellegence of a 5yr old child. Too funny!

  11. Hey PonyGirl, I have an award for you over at my site. Mosey on over and pick it up!

  12. I sure wish I could offer some advice as you struggle with my BIGGEST horse pet peeve!! I've always been known to say that I refuse to ever chase one of my own horses.

    I'm not sure what I do....I just know that every time I walk into the pasture and holler for the mares, they all three come running.

    The only thing I can think of is the fact that I don't ONLY go into their pasture to catch them. Many times I'm out there for other reasons, and they all get some love before I leave. Do you ever go out with your boy just to visit in his pasture??

    Good luck. I'm not sure I could have the patience that you do.

  13. I agree with Pirelli's comment about everything starting the moment the horse sees me. I have a horse I have to bring in from the pasture who always gets very excited and worked up - the complete opposite of My Boy, however, still a challenge to get her to be calm and listen to me. So, as soon as I start to walk toward the pasture, I keep my eyes down, take big cleansing breaths that I blow out of my mouth, all the while visualizing a calm, shady pool of water with her drinking from it. I just talk normally to her while I get her halter ready. She's still excitable, but it seems to have an effect, at calming me, if nothing else.

    Border Collies are certainly busy breeds. Lovely, intelligent, and full of spunk. What a cute, happy fellow.

  14. I'm so sorry you're having this trouble with catching "My Boy". Sooo frustrating. However, I am so happy to hear that you're not going to give up! Don't let him win! He doesn't really mean it - inside he's happy that you keep at it. He's got some reason for doing what he does, and he's not any happier about it than you are. But, you'll see, he will come around...and you'll both have earned lessons learned. Relax and don't forget to breathe while you're moseying.

  15. Wow. Such intensity in those Border Collie eyes. I'm exhausted just thinking about him.

    Poor PG. Sounds like you['ve been going through some struggles lately.
    Dealing with horse troubles sure takes away sme of the 'free' joy that comes with owning them, doesn't it?

    I sure hope, with your new techniques, that things improve quickly, so you and My Boy can keep building positive experiences in your relationship.

    I know what you mean about taking things slow and not going into your horse's space while you are rushed or in a hurry.

    I had a similar experience with my horse this evening.
    I had been painting our chicken coop for most of the day and I kept thinking about fitting in a ride before it got dark.

    Well the sun was almoat touchng the mountains when I stole up to the barn and after tossing Baby Doll a little hay, I immediately started picking out her feet.

    She always lets me handle her feet in her paddock without being haltered, especially if she has hay to munch.
    I got the two feet done on her right side and went up to her front foot on the left, but she flat-out refused to give.

    I asked for her feet and slid my hand down several times, but she only stiffened up and refused.

    I got frustrated and ran her off the hay...made her work a little. But she only wanted to come back to me, just to stand next to me and nibble the hay.
    I kept chasing her off, and kept asking for her foot when she returned.

    Finally I walked back into the barn to turn the water off because her water bucket was full.
    I was able to calm down and relax.
    And when I came back, I petted my horse and took a deep breathe and asked for her foot...and voila...she gave it to me.

    I ended up not really having enough time for a 'real ride', but instead just hopped up bareback for a ride around the paddock and front yard instead.
    But it was worth it, because my horse taught me an important lesson.
    Never be in a rush when you are working with your horse. :)


  16. Your diligence and hard work will pay off. MyBoy will and can be respectful to you as you have seen, consistency is the key.
    Good luck to you and your precious MyBoy!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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