July 7, 2017

A Boy and His Pony

Learning to post at the walk
Pixel has quickly become part of the family, and JR has been enjoying riding him. JR is still on the leadline, but I'm trusting Pixel enough that I think he's ready to ride solo on a longeline at least. Baby steps. Regardless, Pixel continues to be a love and JR adores him.

JR and Pixel's first ride consisted of walk and a little trot on the lead. I also introduced him to the concept of posting and had him practice it at the walk. He did quite good at the walk, but I just let him sit at the trot. He loved trotting! It was the first trot JR ever experienced and he couldn't get enough. The entire time he laughed and wanted to go faster, of course. However, Mom isn't quite ready to see them canter off into the sunset. JR had a blast though and it is my goal to have him ride Pixel at least once a week this summer.
Happy Kiddo!

June 7, 2017

Peace in the Pasture

It took a week, and some good advice (thank you Alanna), but today we finally have a happy peaceful herd.

After last Tuesday's scary attempted introduction of Pixel to Gentry, I had to go back to the drawing board when it comes to herd introductions. Honestly, I've never had to take a gradual approach before. I just put the horses out in the pasture, with food options, and let them do their thing. However, Pixel is tiny compared to the big boys (who are not really that big). I was pretty sure Gentry was going to do some massive damage to Pixel that day if we didn't intervene. Intervene we did, but then what was I to do?

I immediately put Pixel back into his paddock. However, I needed a shared fence-line for them to safely get acquainted. The dilemma therein, is that we don't have multiple paddocks; this isn't a boarding facility. So I scratched my head a bit and drank a beer. After a bit of thought and a second beer, it came to me. During the day, I could turn the big boys out into the pasture and put pixel in the dry lot. That would give them some fence time, and also establish Pixel's presence in the dry lot (I purposefully left his manure piles laying about). The dry-lot is where Gentry lost his friggin' mind on that fateful Tuesday.

We did this for about four days, mostly because I was out of town for two of those days. Thank you AJ for being on top of crazy helicopter horse mom duty for me while I was away! The boys were all well behaved at the fence-line, when they were there that is. Gentry and Daiquiri spent most of their time grazing the top of the pasture and ignoring Pixel's presence.

Whateves.

Once I was back in town, the next step was to hand graze Gentry on a lead line in the front paddock with Pixel. After a minute or two I remembered to breath. Shortly after that I was feeling comfortable that Gentry was not going to eat Pixel, and I let him off with his halter still on. No fireworks, so I put Pixel's grazing muzzle on him and let them graze for a while. In quick order, they seemed to be bonding and enjoying each other's company again. We were made some good progress and ended the day on that good note, aside from the fact that I was out of beer. I gave Hubs the stink eye. Apparently no one (me) went grocery shopping while we were out of town.

The next day, I decided to let Daq meet Pixel in the paddock. Again, I kept him on a lead for a time, until I felt comfortable letting him go. They completely ignored each other the entire time. In hindsight, perhaps I should have introduced Daq to him first. The whole time we were doing this, Gentry was in the pasture and completely freaked out that he was separated from the other two, and more specifically Pixel. He spent the entire time obsessively stalking them and trotting the fence-line.

Note, terribly concerned Gentry in the distant pasture.


Mad man trotting the fence line. Must have Mini-Me!
During the same two days that we were doing the paddock grazing introductions, I decided to section off a portion of the dry-lot as a paddock for Pixel. At this point Pixel was familiar with the dry lot, and all the horses had some time together one on one. My only concern was the fact that the fence that would be separating the horses was hot-wire rope and Gallagher pigtail stakes. Had Rose been part of this equation it would have been a no-go. Enter my seven year old hot-wire PTSD. However, Gentry and Daq are very respectful of hot-wire, and Pixel has shown to be as well, so I decided to put on my big girl pants and risk it. The gamble paid off and all was well. I kept Pixel in this dry lot paddock set up the past two days.

One dry-lot becomes two.
Side note: check out my partially painted barn. Red is up, now I need to do the white trim!
Finally, I let them all out together for morning turnout today. There were some minor shenanigans, and all was well. After an hour I put Pixel's grazing muzzle on him, and they all enjoyed turnout for the day. I was also happy to see that Pixel happily came in at the end of the day to be put away in the dry lot with the big boys. All three of them even shared a cup of oats out of one rubber tub!

Two peas in a pod!

Peace and relief! Oh, and I finally went grocery shopping today, so I've been celebrating with a glass of Chardonnay.

June 5, 2017

Ponying a Pony

One of my goals for Pixel, is that he will be a good companion for Gentry. Like it or not, Gentry hates our outdoor arena. It is in our park, and it is surrounded by mature Cottonwood trees and brush; forest if you like. It is far enough from home that he can't see our place, but not so far that he can't hear the other horses if they call. In addition, he is quite certain that a mountain lion will jump out and eat him. Every. Single. Time. He is fine in our arena if there is another horse present, and he is fine alone in every other arena I have hauled him to.

After several years of dealing with this non-sense, and spending 20 minutes of every ride "working through it", I have finally thrown in the towel. My plan at present is to pony Pixel to the arena with us and tie him up while I ride Gentry. Then I'll tie up Gentry and work with Pixel. The one caveat of that plan, is that I need to be able to pony Pixel.

Today was my first attempt at ponying off of Gentry.

Last time I ponied a horse, was 15 years ago, and it was three polo ponies at once! This was sure to be a piece of cake comparatively.

Both boys did great! Despite the fact that I haven't fully integrated Pixel into the herd yet, he and Gentry had been turned out together for an hour prior to our ride, and had been getting along well, so I wasn't too worried about fireworks. After mounting up and grabbing Pixel's lead, I could tell that Gentry hasn't ponied another horse before, but he figured it out quickly. It also helped that Pixel knew what was going on, even if he was a bit eager and wanted to be right up front with Gentry. I was happy to see that they swiftly settled into a nice rhythm, with Pixel walking politely alongside my leg. Since things were going well, we did a lap around our pasture and headed down the road for a nice 45 min ponying ride at the walk - trot.

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