Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Gaining Experience

with 4 comments

It is not surprising that the horses experience a little anxiety about being surrounded by fields of fresh green grass they can’t access.

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We have to control the horses’ amount of time grazing on lush springtime grass to avoid the condition called founder, or laminitis.

For the second day in a row, yesterday we opened the gate to a small section of grass and let them freely graze for about 30 minutes. Cyndie had come out again to watch them, and I consulted with her about options for coaxing them off the grass and back into the paddock. I was hoping to avoid the panic response they demonstrated on Monday.

She suggested I try using a lead rope around Legacy’s neck to guide him, with the hope the rest would follow. Her idea was brilliant, because it worked like a charm. I figured it would be a challenge to even get the lead around his neck, so I brought a treat to encourage his cooperation. I approached respectfully, and he returned the courtesy by pausing his grazing and lifting his head. I rewarded him with a treat and he let me drape the rope around his neck. We calmly walked back toward the gate to the paddock, and without hesitation, the three chestnuts followed. Two of them came with us into the paddock, but Hunter stopped to get a few last bites of grass. I walked back around him and guided him the rest of the way through the gate.

They made me look like a pro, or at least, like someone who knew what he was doing. Obviously, I do know a little bit, it’s just that I have no previous practical experience to work from. I told Cyndie that my success with the horses is entirely based on confidence I gained from the one weekend of training I received at the Epona seminar where Cyndie, Dunia, and the other trainers did their “student teaching” at the completion of their apprenticeships.

It comes easy to me because the methods they taught for interacting with the horses make total sense to me and resonate with my intuition. The positive feedback of the horses’ responses serves to verify my perceptions.

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Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2014 at 6:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. I have 1 small lot of grass I can put my guys out on. They are up to about 40 -50 minutes of grass now, as I’ve been able to let them graze over the last 2-3 weeks.

    My lot connects to the outdoor, via a little tiny human gate. It’s wide enough to allow my 16.2 horse through. When I start walking towards it, they stalk me, eagerly hopeful I will let them on grass. They get so happy they tear through that gate and run about 15 feet. Then they don’t move after that! lol!

    It’s hard to coax them back off of it, when their “time crunch” is up, but usually if I can get 1, the other either follows or is not hard to catch there after.

    I’ve had some days in the past though, where NOTHING was getting them off grass. Then, when it’s terribly buggy, they can’t wait to come off the grass and are waiting at the little people gate when I go to open it. Most days, they have about 1/2 hour of grass and are ready to come in, if you can believe that. Of course “come in” means come into the barn to eat treats before going back out to their dry lot.

    kshai1715

    May 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    • Sounds very familiar. Lately, I’m sure wishing ours were better able to self-regulate their drive to eat. Another thing I noticed yesterday is that their hoof prints are sinking in about 6-8 inches in spots. Our turf still isn’t firm enough to support them. Little do they know, their feet are wrecking the grass grazing!
      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      johnwhays

      May 7, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      • There’s a saying about grass horse paddocks — the best looking ones are the ones that don’t have horses in them!

        At my barn, the grass lot is only maybe 40 x 60. It is quite small and it does not take much to ruin it completely. It connects to other paddocks, so you can open certain gates to allow horses in & out freely. When that is done, and maybe 6 horses are on it – the grass is gone inside of a week and the lot is ruined. Most times, the gates remain closed.

        It’s literally the only grass lot on the farm (besides the “dog pen”) and I have put my horses in there, too!!

        kshai1715

        May 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      • Ha! That’s great. Both statements are great: “best looking ones are the ones that don’t have horses,” and “I have put my horses in there, too!” Thanks!

        johnwhays

        May 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm


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