Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Art of Letting Go

When it comes to ponying, said I to myself, who should lead whom? Out of the four horses in my pasture who need exercise, who will best tolerate riding with which other herdmate at her side?

Obviously, the lead ponies must be Starlight and Hudson, since they are trained to ride.  DeCato and Stormkite need to follow.   So, I would ride Hudson or Starlight and hold the rope connected to DeCato or Stormkite.

Too close to Herself
After thinking about it for a while, I decided there were really only two possible combinations.  DeCato is afraid of Hudson, and she would not dare walk that close to her, but she is on friendly terms with second-command-in-the-pasture, Starlight.  So Starlight and DeCato would be a pair. 

That left top boss mare, Hudson, leading low-gelding-on-the-totem-pole, Stormkite.  This might not have worked, except that Hudson has shown a tolerance for Stormkite being near her personage (horsenage?) that she does not extend to the others, and he has even been allowed to sniff her Royal Privates, if only fleetingly.  Stormkite is game for pretty much anything, so this could work.

In fact, yesterday, it did work.  I first rode Hudson inside the pasture, near the others who were in the paddock, going in both directions so she could have a look at it all.  This caused the others to became so giddy  that they raced around their paddock in high gaiety.  And Stormkite was most excited, keeping the others running, kicking and bucking and farting.  That was good, because he expended a lot of energy.

Then I tied Hudson to the gatepost, and lunged Stormkite.  Satisfied that he was fairly cooperative, I managed to work the logistics of mounting one horse while holding another, and we started off, up the pasture.

As expected, Stormkite did not want to walk too close to Hudson at first, and when he did, she objected, so I had to reprimand her when I saw her ears go back.  Hudson has been known to throw a kick, mainly due to lack of this type of exposure.  Then, Stormkite started to trot.  Mind you, I was holding his lead line and was focused mostly on making sure it doesn't accidentally become looped around any part of my body.   When Stormkite trotted, Hudson abruptly did her mighty, hopping bolt up the hill.  Hudson can't get much air, but she is powerful and fast in these short bursts.  

Sensing disaster, I dropped the rope.   If you knew me, you would know that dropping the rope is not easy for me.  I'm a hanger-onner, and have many times become a sort of kite, flown by a horse, for this reason.  But this time, hallelujah, I dropped the rope and stayed on my horse.

This actually worked out pretty well.  Despite the lack of a physical connection, Hudson, Stormkite and I stuck together and played follow-the-leader through the pasture.  We had fun, with Stormkite leading at times and Hudson leading at others.  I eventually was able to grab his rope and we started ponying again.  The follow-the-leader game seemed to help them understand what we were doing, and they were fairly cooperative for the rest of the training as we walked this way and that through the pasture together, DeCato and Starlight watching with mild, marely interest from the paddock.

It was raining by the time I thought we had done enough, so I didn't attempt it with the other pair.  But I will continue to work with all four on this fun and new (for us) way to exercise two horses at once.

1 comment:

  1. Anytime you need a riding partner, let me know. I'm adventerous. :-)