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

Posts Tagged ‘spring grass

Herd Reunited

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I am very happy to be able to report that Dezirea has made enough progress toward good health that Cyndie decided to allow her back with our other horses. In fact, to celebrate the milestone, Cyndie let all 4 of them step out onto the green grass for their first brief taste of the spring.

We have now arrived at the difficult period when we meter out their minutes of grazing on the lush spring growth. In years past, the strict constraints on the time we allowed them were merely applied to ease their digestive systems into the change. Then we came to realize that they don’t work hard enough to justify the rich diet full-time.

We have to limit their grazing most of the year in order to keep them from becoming overweight.

Cyndie has purchased some muzzles in hope of giving the horses a chance to roam the pasture without over-eating. They can eat through the muzzle, but it takes a bit more time and effort. It will slow down their intake.

Since they are not out on the pasture full-time, they’ve been eating hay longer into the warm months. Last night we visited a new local source of small bales that Cyndie found through an ad. We filled the back of the pickup with as much as it would hold and hustled back to the ranch, quickly serving up a few test bites to the horses.

They loved it! That was a relief.

Hauling hay at the end of the day was a lot of work, because we were already fatigued from continued sprucing of the labyrinth, mowing the lawn, re-hanging the vines across the path out of the back yard, spending time with chickens out of the coop, and turning the composting manure piles.

Today will be a much more leisurely day. It’s World Labyrinth Day! We are expecting visitors around noon, so after a few small chores of preparation in the morning, we will be lounging, snacking, visiting, and walking for peace throughout the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to having the afternoon off.

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Gaining Experience

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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