Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Heat Wave Continues

It was a second sweltering weekend here in Virginia. With temperatures over 100 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, I didn’t ride Buckshot, but we had fun doing other things.

On Saturday, after I groomed him, I thought we’d walk through the trail. The flies aren’t too bad right now (they’ve all died from heat exhaustion!) so a walk in the woods seemed like a good idea. But when we got to the trailhead, Buckshot didn’t want to go into the woods. He did his impression of a statue- standing totally still and unmovable. I pulled, and reassured him that I’d protect him, and turned him in a few circles, but everytime he stood absolutely immobile and wouldn’t go into the woods.

So we did plan B- a walk down the farm road. It wasn’t a smooth, easy walk, either. LOL! I had treats in my pocket and after a short ways, Buckshot stopped in his tracks, so I gave him a treat, and he gladly walked forward. Then after a few steps he stopped again, no doubt ready for more treats. I didn’t have enough treats to actually let him eat his way down the road, so I used my crop and tapped him on his shoulder to get him going. A few times, I led him in a zig zag pattern to keep him going. And them another treat. We finally made it down to the arena and turned around. He walked easily and gladly back! LOL! It was too hot to really make an issue of it. But we did accomplish our goal of taking a walk. Then I gave him a bath, some more treats and walked him back to his pasture. Because of the heat, I was spent.

On Sunday, I decided to just take a grazing walk around the farm with Buckshot, and forget about actually getting anywhere. So we walked in this area and that, and went to see the chicken coop, and say hi to the stallion, and just meandered around. The last place I walked us to was the edge of a neighbor’s field, but right before you get to the field, you have to go past our farm’s major muck pile. It is about ten feet tall right now. As I walked Buckshot right next to it, he stopped. He wanted to sniff everything, and sniff he did! And sniff! And sniff! He was in sniffing heaven! He didn’t care about walking anywhere else, now that he had found this. I had no idea how enthralled he would be with the muck pile. After a few minutes, I led him back to the barn for his shower. Now I’m thinking that maybe I can use this new delight of his – as a treat, I can take him to the muck pile to sniff to his heart’s content! Who knew?

Here’s another new thing about Buckshot – he believes in magic! Yes, that’s right. I have taught him that the mounting block is magic! And he believes it. And for the record, I didn’t set out to teach him about magic. Here’s the background. I use treats when mounting to get him to stand still. When I mount him, I line him up at the block, and give him a treat by hand. Then I place a second treat on the top step of the mounting block, and I get on him. I then turn him around to face the block, and he sees a treat right there, on the step, and eagerly eats it. And then he checks the mounting block carefully again to see if another treat has popped up. We go ahead and do our riding, but a few times when we pass the mounting block, Buckshot will walk up to it and look all around it to see if a treat has magically popped up. He now believes treats come from the mounting block! And he wants a mounting block put in his stall! LOL!

It is so funny, but also it is very interesting. It was easy to train him that the mounting block dispenses treats. He remembers it, and revisits it, and he has never forgotten it. What else can I teach him so easily, that he will be eager to repeat , and he will never forget? I must use this new talent of him somehow!

Has your horse learned something funny from what you did? Hope you had a great weekend!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Funny about Buckshot and the mounting block. My horses think I'm a giant Pez dispenser of treats. Every time they do something good they check my pockets or give me the sad eye like they're starving. I know that's a bad thing but I usually have a pocketful when I'm working with them. If I put a treat on the mounting block Dusty would never stand still for me to get on but would back up and snatch the treat. I've stopped giving her treats before I mount only after I'm safely in the saddle.

Hope it cools off soon. We've been hot here too with a few days off in the 80's for good behavior. This weekend it's soaring to the 90's again. Can't wait...ugh. I hate the heat.

mackenzie said...

The heat waves this year have been crazy. My air conditioner broke during a heat wave and not having air conditioning in Louisville is unheard of. I don't have a horse but I wish I did. I absolutely love this post. That is so funny about Buckshot believing in magic. I can't wait to read more about Buckshot. Thanks for sharing!