Monthly Archives: February 2007

Hey! Two days in a row!

I did another session with Rowan (and I’m very proud of that). Today I introduced her to the first stages of being tied. When we first started, I looped the lead rope on her halter through an Aussie tie ring. I didn’t tie it, or even loop it around the center thingy. I just ran it through the ring and held the end.

I groomed her right side, and she stood quietly. When I switched sides, I looped the lead rope around the center thingy so it would be a little more taut. I held onto the end so if she pulled back, I could control whether or not she got any slack. When I moved back toward her back end on her left side, she pulled back a couple of times. I held the rope and waited for her to offer even a bit of slack. She thought about it… and then took a step forward. Click! She didn’t even seem close to panicking, even when she was unable to pull away.

After I groomed both sides, I decided to see if she remembered any of the work with her hooves I did last summer. I ran my hand down her front right leg, and she shifted her weight and lifted it. Click! I did it again, and she again stepped back and lifted the foot. I held it several seconds, and then set it down. Good girl.

Next session we’ll work more on her feet. The problem I have with her feet is that rather than just lifting them, she always takes a step back first. It doesn’t matter whether the foot is back, forward, or square; she takes that step. I need to figure out how to communicate that she just needs to lift the foot, not step back and lift.

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First 10 minutes under my belt

I did it! I worked with Rowan for ten minutes. Thirteen, actually. Of course it took more than thirty when you add in all the pre- and post-stuff I have to do. The hardest part was getting her back in the dry lot without letting the other horses out!

I started by just letting Rowan out in the front area, sans halter. She has had a halter on, oh, half a dozen time maybe, so putting it on was to be my first exercise. I got asked her to target my hand, then the halter, then I put my arm over her neck, and then I spilled it on. No fuss.

Next we worked on leading. Really, we just worked on following my target hand and walking beside me. We did just a step or two at a time because when I did this with her a couple of times last summer, she was cranky and bitey. Today she wasn’t cranky at all, so no problem. Still, we did this just for a minute, and then I decided to introduce her to a brush.

I honestly can’t remember if I’d introduced her to a brush before. I tossed a rope around her a bit to see if she was going to be spooky with me working around her body, and she had no problem with it, so I began brushing her.

By this time I had gotten rid of the lead rope because I didn’t want to hold it, so she took a step away a couple of times. She was particularly prone to do it if I moved back to stand near her middle or back end — she prefers me to stand in front of her. But even when she moved away, all she did was turn around and position me in front of her again.

Very successful first session! She remembers a lot.

I’m in no real hurry with her. Although she hasn’t had her hooves trimmed, they look fantastic. (Really. Very even and beautifully shaped.) Even if everything goes 100% perfectly, I wouldn’t back her until she’s three — summer of 2008, and I wouldn’t have someone begin lightly riding her (walk/trot) until a year after that. So we’ve got nothing but time.

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Caught in a whirlwind

Yesterday I had a session with a shamanic healer. I met my power animal (a bear), my spirit tribe (a lovely group of fat, happy women), and my spirit guide ( a shapeshifter). I want to lose weight, and among the advice I received was the suggestion to join a group of like-minded people. “You are very good at focusing a whirlwind of people’s thoughts,” I was told, “but now you need to find a whirlwind that will guide you.”

I remembered an invitation from a friend, and so I checked out SparkPeople. Enter the whirlwind.

The site has a mind-boggling number of features. Of course, so does any number of other weight loss sites. What makes this one different, though, is that it gives you “points” for desired behavior. For example, every five minutes of cardio exercise earns one point. Reading a SparkPeople article earns three points. Posting to a SparkPeople forum earns three points. Heck, just logging in earns points!

I’m enamored with the site — especially the points, which appeal to the TAGteacher, clicker trainer in me. The teams, the articles, the recipes… I could get lost in this whirlwind. This morning I could hardly wait to start drinking water or to record my breakfast or read an article. I even went for a walk so I could earn some cardio points!

Still, I’m going to try not to go overboard. Too many changes all at once will overwhelm and frustrate me. My Fast Break goals are to drink no soda, do ten minutes of cardio per day, and to keep a journal. Rather than go nuts trying to force myself to work out, I’m going to stick to those goals for the first few days. I have an appointment with a personal trainer on Monday, so that’s soon enough to worry about kicking the workouts into high gear.

Check out the site. Sign up — it’s free. And then look me up; I’m Rainsmom.

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10 minutes a day

Can you train a horse in ten minutes a day? I’m considering giving it a try. Ten minutes. Surely I can commit to that.

I’m thinking about Rowan, although it makes more sense for me to work with Guin, the horse I could actually RIDE come summer. I figure that if I work with Rowan regularly, though, I’ll be more likely to spend some time working with Guin later. Besides, she’s so easy that even if I don’t work with her, I’ll be able to ride her, if I’m ever confident enough to try that again.

Anyway, ten minutes a day. How about just one day? Let’s see if I can spend ten minutes working with Rowan tomorrow.

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Naughty horses and a darn good dog

For the last week I’ve been turning the horses into the front area for a few hours every afternoon. There are bits of grass to nibble and room to play, and it makes them happy.

I turned them out yesterday, and then went back to my computer. A while later I noticed Guin staring at me through the sun room window. I waved, and she took off, cantering down the driveway, Rowan at her heels. Oh, how cute. They’re playing. I walked to where I could see them better. Hmmm. Why isn’t Blue playing with them? I went out on the front porch.

You know, I had four horses when I turned them out. Why do I have only two now?

Gate closed. Fence up.

Surely they’re just hiding. No, that doesn’t make sense — Guin wouldn’t be upset if they were just in the barn or something.

About the time I decided I’d better start a search, my neighbors, Tim and Pam, come walking up the road with Blue and Princess in tow. Blue came back in the fence willingly; Princess wanted to explore their garden a while longer before coming home. Once everyone was in, we looked around and decided they must have gotten out through the arena, so I shut that gate. Problem solved!

Um, no.

In the time it took me to walk downstairs and retrieve my cell phone, Blue and Princess decided to head to their real escape route: through the supposedly impassible woods. The woods, I discovered, aren’t so impassible in the winter. So the horses are locked in the dry lot again until we can get the woods fenced. That’s really not so terrible, though, because fencing the woods means Aslan can spend more time in the front area of the property.

Speaking of Aslan, I just have to rave about what a good dog he has become. I was worried about him as he was maturing. When he was intact, he had a hair-trigger temper. He never aggressed toward me — he redirected that anger onto Pax — but I was still on pins and needles around him.

Although I know it’s sacrilege in the United States, I’m not a big fan of neutering. Controlled breeding, yes, but not the removal of hormone-containing body parts. Testosterone is a multipurpose hormone, and removing it has lifelong effects, so I don’t like neutering without good reason. With Aslan, though, we had good reason. With testosterone in his system, he was just a nasty-tempered dog.

It has been about six months since we got him neutered, and I’m blissfully happy with the changes. Only a couple of fights, and he’s a lot more biddable. He’s two and a half now, so part of that is maturity, but bottom line, he’s just a nicer dog now. In fact, he’s terrific. He’s lovely to snuggle with on a cold nights, and he’s fun to play with. He’s more tolerant of having his nails clipped or poop trimmed from his feathers. He doesn’t compete with Pax anymore, just patiently waits his turn.

He’s a doll.

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