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Trail Ride

We went for a trail  ride this morning. A family ride. Not of the usual sort. I got to walk for one thing. 8 rode his fourwheeler and The Goblin  Child rode her horse.

It was a great time.

As 8 took off leading us with the fourwheeler, Daisy mounted behind him, Lady wanted to go with. As though the fourwheeler was a horse and she wanted o stay with  the herd. She started off at a very fast walk. I was stretching my legs out as far as they could go to keep up with her. Then she broke into a trot. Sitting up there bareback a trot was more than The Goblin Child wanted to do. Very sick with a cold it was way more than I wanted to do jogging along side!

We went back to a walk.

With fourwheeler in  the lead we walked to the end of our road,  down by the corrals to check on our goat. She appeared to be fine. We turned and walked back. Towards the house but only inn a round about sort of way. We circled the stack yard and the quanset. We stopped to graze or to climb  on the swather/jungle gym. Then on again.

I was exhausted. It was time to head home for real.

The Goblin  Child is figuring how to get off on her own  bareback. Swinging her leg over so she can slide off is scary but she did it all by herself for the first time today. Then all by herself she lead Lady out and turned her loose, taking the halter off and petting Lady good bye. Soon she’ll be doing this without me leading them.

More Horse Stuff

I admit it. I’m more interested in the horse than she is.

The Goblin Child is loving Lady. There’s no denying that.

She is happy to lead her out to graze. She straps on her treats bag and is even willing to hand feed. Something she has refused to do with any other horse. I am NOT allowed to feed or work with Lady. I got in big trouble for using her to demonstrate teaching a horse to step onto a pedestal. Only she is allowed to do any training. She is also happy to sit on her while she grazes, to lay down on Lady’s rump, to lay down across her neck.

Then, when done, she demands the reward she’s due. She has earned her computer time or a bit of candy.

I’m willing to give it. Time spent with horses should be encouraged by what ever means necessary. A halfhearted interest can grow with time.

I want her to be horse crazy though! I want her to demand time with her horse, not computer time because she played with her horse for awhile.

I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Horse time is horse time. She does love Lady. If it’s not as much or the way I would like, in a perfect world, it’s better than nothing. Not everyone can be as horse crazy as me. Even my mom says I wasn’t completely horse crazy at that age.

So I will keep rewarding horse time and building the responsibilities she is accepting unknowingly, thinking it is just more of the horse fun. She caught Lady and put her halter on, all by herself. The last time she rode she undid the saddle, all by herself. She rode around, in a small inclosed area, and wasn’t even concerned when Lady trotted off with her to the gate, all by herself. She happily leads Lady to the gate and puts her away even taking the halter off, all by herself. Come to think of it maybe this horse thing is working just the way I want it to after all 🤔💜

After School

I took care of a few chores before following the kids in the house. After a long day in  school they always want their computers and food. Food is allowed.  Computers not for awhile.

The Goblin Child was in her room with the door shut. Do not come in! She yelled from behind closed door.

I didn’t go in.

A short while later she walked out the door changed from her school clothes into jeans and boots and her new shirt with the picture of Rusty playing fetch.

I want to get Lady, she declared. So we did.

There are no words dearer to a mothers heart. I was even willing to brave the suffocating heat of the miserable August afternoon if she was wanting to play with her horse instead of begging for a computer.

I caught Lady, because braving the herd is not something a small child should do, and delivered her lead to waiting hands. She was brought to the shade of the tree in the yard to graze and the hose demanded.

We were surprised to find Lady not a fan of fly spray, that always comes as a shock. Not sure how she would feel about water if she didn’t like to be sprayed we proceeded cautiously. Apparently water falls inn a different category and she accepted the hose with a sigh of disgust.

Of course 8 couldn’t have that. No  one is allowed to play quietly without him. He ran and grabbed her from behind. Cried when she sprayed him with the hose and the game was on. Lady would get a splash of water, 8 would poke The Goblin Child, The Goblin  Child would swing thee hose around soaking anything in her path, me, and spray her brother who would shriek and run away.

As long as she had that lush green grass Lady could care less.

I put an end to the game when they couldn’t control themselves enough to stay at what I felt was a comfortable distance from Lady’s hind end. The limits of a good horse should not be tested too well or foolishly.

8 went off to play in the hose alone and insist we needed to finish draining the pool. Together we hefted it up and dumped the water out. Once again, lady never batted an eye.

My daughter was done though. Her brother had somehow ruined her fun. I wasn’t going to argue. If horse time wasn’t fun anymore forcing it wouldn’t change things. It was still before the magic computer time but since she had asked to go outside and do other things I thought computer time seemed like a fitting reward. Lady got turned back out and the children went in.

Maybe we’ll get to do this again  tomorrow.

 

Out Riding

For the Goblin Child’s birthday this year she got a lovely little bay Arab mare. Tiny and delicate like she is,  they are working towards becoming the perfect pair.

Lady got a couple of days off with the start of school. Over the weekend we have been making up for that. Friday we saddled up and took long walks around the yard and down the drive letting both children get used to her. On a lead line.

They will be staying on a lead for awhile, until everyone is perfectly comfortable and used to each other.

Today we did it again. At the end of the lead. I told The Goblin Child that she was in charge of steering. I was only here as a safety so she didn’t get run off with. They had to fight the pull of alfalfa on one side and corn on the other. It was tough going.

We made it to the mail box and back though. On the way back Lady walked happily right down the middle of the road, not going after food and not caring at all about the sharp rocks. She’s got some nice feet.

In the yard we came across 8 who had just finished working on a pivot with his father. He jumped out from behind the trees, running and playing. Lady didn’t bat an eye. He led us to the crab apple tree where tiny tart apples were ripening. Red and tempting and just out of reach. We marched right into the front yard and used Lady as a ladder to pick apples from.

They were too tart for children and even Lady delicately turned her nose up at them 😆

8 wanted to pick apples too so we switched places, and helmets, then The Goblin Child helped heft hi into the saddle. He took his turn picking apples then  enjoyed a short ride back to the house.

Leading Lady

I was busy moving electric fence to enlarge the bottle calves pasture. it requires lots of trips back and forth and is very involved and more complicated than a simple electric fence should be.

Having children helping or even playing around the house and yard doesn’t help matters.

On one trip through the yard to check on them as I went I spotted them running back and forth to the horses gate. They enthusiastically told me they were getting corn for the horses! I stepped in the house for a drink and when I came back out they were working hard, together, to haul a bucket of water to the gate. Lady was standing there chewing happily on the grain offerings they had hauled earlier. They weren’t fighting. They weren’t trying to get out of work. Instead they each strained at their sides of the five gallon buckets handle, working together to get the job done.

I was so proud of them. So I tried to help.

Let me grab Lady and bring her out! You don’t need to haul the bucket any farther and  you’ll be able to play with her easier, I said as I walked towards the gate, halter inn hand.

NO! The screamed! NO Lady screamed, turning and taking off the other direction. I had ruined everything and they let me know it in no uncertain terms.

I apologized profusely.

They climbed the gate calling desperately for Lady to come back.

The whole herd came thundering up and they were quick to get back to the safe side of the fence. Luckily Lady came through and went through a gate that no one else did. I was able to redeem myself from me earlier blunder by shutting the get and getting them Lady all by herself again.

They hauled her hay and more water. My son and I had a chance to discuss how horses can only eat so much corn. They can’t have as much as they want or however much we feel like hauling for them. My daughter grabbed her halter and was trying to figure out how to get it on Lady. That sent Lady off again. Luckily the gate was shut. We had her trapped.

I was able to convince her that she should let us up to her. As she’s making friends with the other horses she’s less interested in us and not enthused about being caught. We’ll get that changed just like all the other horses, she’ll come running when she hears us before too long.

Giving the rope to my daughter she lead lady out of the corrals and into the yard. There they tapped and grazed and finally decided that sitting on Lady while she grazed might be fun.

It’s hard to get used to the feel of new horses. It’s also hard to get used to the feeling of new people. Lady walked quick circles around me as soon as I sat my daughter up there. My daughter clung to my hand and the mane. Once they both got settled and held still we were able to graze until everyone relaxed.

What better reinforcement, for both of them, than still quiet time spent grazing in the yard. Moving will come soon enough, there’s no rush.

Horseless Summer

Country kids grow up a little different than kids in town. I am forever grateful for our large backyard.

Right now that life isn’t so much about horses. They send their time standing out in their pasture, eating and fighting flies. We are busy hauling hay, working summer fallow, canning beans, freezing anything that looses it’s crisp when canned, working in the garden, and generally keeping busy.

As important as I think it is for the kids to work with us and learn the value of labor, we also do our bast to get out and enjoy the summer.

Hot days are much better spent in the shade or water than horseback though so we go to the lake or explore water holes out in the pasture. Soon enough they will be back in school and I will get to work horses again. Maybe even clean house! 🤣 Until then they will be happy with a bareback ride in from grazing the yard and petting noses over the fence. I will be happy that they are enjoying the horses, enjoyment doesn’t have to mean riding.

Riding

My daughter used to be a great and fearless little rider. Between loosing her perfect little mare and a few other things she doesn’t want to ride so much anymore.

I convinced her to go for a ride with me today while her brother was riding in the tractor with his father.

She noticed my new cinch right away! If that’s the first time she’s been around while I had a saddle on with my new cinch it has been awhile since we rode together!

Throughout the ride she kept saying how much she liked the cinch. It is beautiful in my favorite colors, all purple and orange.

By the time we finished the ride it occurred to me that this could be useful.

If you keep riding and start doing this more often, I told her, we can see about getting you a cinch of your own. When we get home we’ll look through her page and you can chose the colors and design that you want.

She was thrilled.

At home we sat down at the computer and looked at Lexy’s page. As we looked m daughter decided she wanted a unicorn! In purple and pink. Oh dear.

Since I had an on going message with Lexy I told her we could ask and see. It seemed like a bit of a stretch to fit that onto a cinch.
Lexy answered immediately and was very sweet, not only willing to try to get a unicorn on a cinch but encouraging my daughter to keep riding in order to get it.

We’ll see if she keeps up the riding or not. Hopefully this will be the extra push she needs to get back to it. She did a great job riding today!
Lexy’s fb page is here if anyone else is craving a purple and pink unicorn cinch, or even something a little less extra https://www.facebook.com/LNCustomCinchesMecatesMore/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

A New Pedestal

My sister in law has decided to clean out the shop. It’s a pretty impressive undertaking. Stuff has been accumulating in there for decades.

In the cleaning I have found quite a few items that will work as horse toys.

Out of the large collection of tires carefully stored away there were some smaller ones that I thought I might try for small pedestals. The first one I tried was for a three wheeler. It was too thick. I wanted wobbly but it was too wobbly.

The next one was an old fourwheeler tire.

I drug it out and screwed a small piece of plywood also scavenged from the shop to the top and tried it out. It was smushy but not too wobbly like the thicker one. When Rusty got both feet on it smashed almost flat. It would work.

I needed to take it back apart, trim the plywood to fit and add some of the rubber, also found in the shop, to the top so it wouldn’t be slippery. I asked where to find a saw. Starting to do things myself usually ends up with my husband deciding he needs to do them for me. Not entirely a bad thing 😉

A saber saw made quick work of the plywood. A carpet knife cut the scrap of bed liner surprisingly easy. Screwing it all back together was a little harder. The screws didn’t want to go through the tires, there was no getting them back  in the old holes. When  I pushed hard enough to go into the  tire it pulled right through the rubber on top. My husband found a scrap piece of metal tubing just the right length to hold the tire up and the screws went right in. Washers would also have solved the problem.

I may fill it with expanding foam at some  point or leave it as is. Part of the purpose of pedestals is to teach a horse to trust and step onto things that aren’t perfectly steady when we ask.

Once that was completed I started off to add some scrap pieces of old baler belt to my bridge! In horror my husband came to do that for me too. Between baler belts and the rest of the bed liner the bridge is now slip proof.

Now I just need to get out there and try it out. I wonder if the horses will be bothered by the new look of their old toys?

Oops, just realized after writing all of this out that it was on the wrong blog! I meant to put it on Rusty’s blog, it’s a piece for the Academy. Sometimes it’s easier to get longer ones written out here, or there 😉 then copy and paste after some proof reading. I guess I’ll leave it here because it doesn’t really matter where I put it.

 

Category: Horses  2 Comments

Positive Punishment? Negative Reinforcement? A Little Of Everything?

Sometimes the lines between the quadrants aren’t as clear as we would like.

My daughter hadn’t been sleeping. I need sleep, I found this to be very strong Positive Punishment. Walking through the days in a tired foggy haze made me grouchy and miserable to live with. That was not strong enough positive punishment to keep her from coming into our room every night just wanting someone to come back  to her room with her to stand there until she fell asleep, over and over again.

We tried all sorts of different techniques to get her to stop. After the first few times which were nightmare induced, it wasn’t because of fear so much as habit. She would be up and headed to our room before she was even fully awake. We tried patience, I admit I yelled a few times, my husband made her a noise machine that played audio books for her all night long. Please just lay there and listen to your book instead of coming to get us every time you wake up, we begged her.

None of it worked.

We were exhausted and our tempers were getting short.

This is where the lines start to blur.

I have been making the children come with me to feed in the mornings since they have been out of school. It’s good for them and they enjoy it once they get out there, even if they beg not to have to go every single day. It’s a fight to get them out the door.

It’s good for them, everyone needs to learn about work and responsibility. To them it is positive punishment though.

I told her that if she could make it through the night without waking us up she wouldn’t have to come with to feed.

It worked. She said the next day that she had been out of bed and almost to our door before she remembered feeding.

So she went back to bed.

What  category does this fall under?

Not positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement would be offering her a reward for doing the thing we wanted. We are, but only in the form of relief from  punishment. The one receiving the punishment, or reward, is the one who gets to decide what is punishment or reward, not the one giving it.

Had she not slept I would have been applying positive punishment by making her continue to go feed with me.

Positive punishment isn’t always a bad thing. We think of it as punishing, cruel and hurtful. By the scientific definition it is anything that stops a behavior. In real life the punishment I offered is something that is far better for her than not to be punished. So often we, our horses, everything, look at things that are good for them as a bad  thing. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s hard to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing to do.

We would  like the lines between the quadrants to be well defined and clear. Punishment bad. Reward good.  Really though life is a constant weighing and re-balancing of the scales.

She is still sleeping through the night. She is still not going with to feed. Responsibility and the importance of work in life will have to be taught at some point, right now getting to sleep through the night weighs far more heavily on my scale.

Great Timing

Now. Now when riding your horse isn’t politically correct, The Goblin Child has decided she wants to ride horses.

All this time I’ve been trying to get her to participate, to get her to do ground work or just sit on a horse and she’s refused.

I was working with Harvey the other day and she ordered me to lead him over to a place where she could get on. Of course I let her. The next day she decided to sit on Rusty while we worked and go for a ride. Yesterday I saddled Smoke for her and we went for a walk. 8 decided he wanted on behind and the four of us walked out to the mail box and back.

8 decided at the mail box that he wanted to walk. He is very slow. Smoke was headed home and going fast. It made for an interesting trip.