All The Little Things
Written by Nancy Okun on November 19, 2010 at 8:17 am
It’s November and the days are getting so short and ride time is getting even more precious. This always puts me in an anxious mood, but never as much as this year knowing that my young Reilly’s training will not be as consistent as it was all summer and fall. Plus, I’ll be moving my horses home next month. We’re in the process of building a barn which hopefully will be functional by Christmas!
I’m already planning my first CTR with Reilly in the Spring and (nervously) thinking about all the things he’ll be exposed to for the first time. Overnight camping with an electric fence(I think I’ll invest in a High Tie to be safe),Vet checks, trot outs, exposure to other horses, drinking on the trail out of strange buckets, trailering alone!!! Oh My!! All these things I’ve taken for granted with my Rianon for the past 12 years. She would get off the trailer at a strange campground, toss her lovely head and look around as if to say “I’m here…who would like to adore me this weekend”. For Rianon, it was “all about her” She loved the attention of a vet check. She is so very beautiful and she knows it! I remember our first ride. She stood like a Princess, gracefully lowered her head and blew softly, while the judges checked her over….. and her trot out was like a dance. I was complimented on all the work I must have done to prepare her. I graciously accepted the kudos…but to be honest, I never practiced the trot out or got her prepared for her first vet check. She was just a natural. Always poised and confident. Now, I’ve got Mr. Reilly. He will be a different story all together!
My young gelding is smart. Very smart. On the down side… he has a short attention span…on the up side he is a very quick study. Once you teach him something….he’s got it down and ready to move on to the next thing! Typical overachiever. Teaching him to tie and stand quietly at the trailer to be groomed and tacked up came easily. Thank goodness for that one! He’s now, after some difficulty, able to stand very still while being mounted just about anywhere. Second blessing. But during the winter down time.. it’s the little stuff he needs to learn.
We all know how often we need to syringe electrolytes into our horses and that’s something you don’t want to fight with on your first hot ride. Worming Reilly was not easy the first time. My fault. I took for granted he’d accept the syringe! Not! So I filled a syringe with apple sauce, put some on my finger, letting him see where it came from, and put my finger under his lip. Little by little he accepted the apple sauce “dose” without hesitation. I figured this would be a good time to get him used to fingers in his mouth to check for capillary refill time and gum checks. He’s very orally fixated so this seemed fun to him..
Every day I touch all four legs as if I were the judge checking for bumps. He’s a bit goosey still so that’s something we continue to work on. Hopefully I can get someone else to touch his legs while I hold him to get him used to strange hands. I learned while hosing his legs that he’s a drama queen about even a small cut!! Ouch! What a baby!
He’s been good about throwing blankets on and off him while standing loose in the pasture, but next time we ride in the cool morning I’m going to try a butt rug. Yes, I’ll lunge him with it on before I mount! I’ve got to remember to put my Snug Pack on and let him get used to the sound of velcro coming from behind him when I get my water bottle out!
Ah! And then there’s the EZ boot. I thought I’d borrow a larger size than he needs so I can easily get it on and off over his shoe….just to let him get the feel of that strange thing on his foot!
Leg wraps! Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Well, that will be a winter’s afternoon project trying to get him to stand still for that! Maybe I’ll throw some poultice on him, too. Yikes……….so much to think about!!
He lunges nicely so maybe that will be our trot out plan, although I’ve been practicing having him trot at my side and stop when I stop. It’s always good to teach them both ways so you can use what works best depending on the size of the designated area.
I think his biggest issue will be getting along with other horses. I’ve never had a dominant horse. Rianon was boss mare to my other gelding, but in a very gentle way. Surprisingly, Reilly challenged, and won, dominance over Rianon which astounded the heck out of me (and Rianon). With some help I’ve been working on being Alpha Mare to him but that roll does not come easy to me and he thinks because he’s so damn cute I’ll let him get away with unacceptable behavior. He needs to learn not to come into my space….or the space of another horse. Group trail rides will be first on our Spring agenda for certain.
I’ve just overwhelmed myself with training issues!! I think I’ll make a list and put it in my new barn and cross things out as we work on them. Distance horses need to develop a “been there done that” attitude. Most “get it” after just a few CTR’s and I’m depending on Reilly’s smarts and my experience to get us through the first few competitions.
Have a great Thanksgiving…….
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