Sunday, April 25, 2010

OBSTACULAR!!!!!!!

What an amazing weekend Linus had. To say that doesn't even scratch the surface for me. Saturday unexpectedly turned into a great day for obstacles. My 7 year old nephew, Griffin, was out from the city for a visit. He usually comes out on weekends and without getting into detail its safe to say he is from a broken home and the farm provides stability and comfort for him. I pulled Linus out to groom his still-shedding coat and Griff asked what I was doing. So I told him and was surprised by his interest. So I asked if he wanted to help, surprise again when he eagerly agreed. I gave him an overview on how to safely approach a horse, how to know the horse is aware you are there and the basics of reading him. Griffin caught on quicker than a quick thing, asked loads of questions and thoroughly enjoyed grooming Linus. Not to mention Sir Linus himself very much enjoyed the attention. My husband came over with our son, Owen, who of course also had to pet Linus.
Then our first obstacle other than all the people (usually just Linus and I) came along when my Dad went past on the tractor. No big deal, Linus is used to that, then he reached the field on the other side of where we were working and dropped the set of discs he had on and started discing the field entrance. Noisy metal griding and some rock scraping. Linus was great, he looked to see what it was, danced a bit (more so I think he was prancing cos' he felt pretty from all his grooming) then settled back in. The next obstacle was a 4-wheeler with the chain harrows in tow. Non-event there too. Then when we were out front in the field grazing Linus (yep, husband and kids in tow here too) the same 4-wheeler came and towed away the noisy, steel hay wagon. Non-event. Again. Then Dad moved the stock trailer to right near where we were grazing with the tractor, surely this would get a reaction from him I thought! But, nope, not a day to faze my brave boy. It probably doesn't seem like a lot but our tractor is big and Linus has never had that many people plus the 2 dogs around him all at once. I was very proud of him. It was great noise exposure.
Today was an absolutely fantastic feel good day for Linus and I. We accomplished so much! Yes, I do have picture and yes they were taken from my cell phone so please be warned on the quality!!
I started by a light grooming of the loose hairs. Then I took the saddle blanket, which he has worn under his surcingle, and I did some "sacking out" with it. It was a very windy day so I took full advantage of that. Below is a picture of Linus wearing the blanket which he was very quick to learn is not a threat. He had it opened all of the way and hanging on both sides, running from his head to his tail, completely covering his head and eyes and draping over his neck as you see.

He's obviously very bothered!!












About an hour previous to this I put this old (my great-uncle owned it when he was young, my Dad and myself learned to ride in it) saddle in with Linus for him to investigate. He sniffed, nibbled and pawed at it. Then I took it out so he wouldn't get tangled up in it. After our blanket session I brought the saddle back in and rubbed his shoulders with it. This didn't bother him at all, he was happy to have it back for more sniffing! So I set it on his back with the girth straps behind the cantle, just in case! He turned and sniffed it then looked at me asking for a treat. I happily obliged, walked him around a bit, slapped the saddle and got no reaction from him other than boredom. As Lynn said the day I brought him home "I love non-events!" So I took it to the next step and cinched the saddle loosely. Not a problem, his is used to this from the surcingle. So I continued walking him in his pasture, then stop and slapped the stirrups lightly against his sides, banged on the seat of the saddle and rocked it back and forth. All of this causing no stress for Linus. Good boy!!






Again, a very bothered boy wearing his first saddle!
I was pleased with the progress thus far...okay, major understatement. I was elated!! Even that is an understatement. This was my first experience introducing a horse to his first saddle. I brought him out front to graze as has become our routine spot. I took the chance to take another though somewhat hazy photo. My Mom came out front with Griffin and Owen so Linus got more attention!! Then I took him for a short walk up the road then up a trail that we hadn't been on before which leads to two hayfields. We walked and trotted up the trail so he got to really experience the slapping and creaking an old saddle makes!! He handled it beautifully. We took our time heading back. I walked him a bit into the front bush, last year's dead canary grass brushed his belly and crunched under him which he wasn't crazy about. To his credit, he did not bolt and trusted me to lead him back out safely. I took him back to his pasture, unsaddled him, gave him a good rub and got his feed.

I know theoretically this is a competition, but that part of it is so far behind me now. It has become way more than that for me. I am learning so much and thoroughly enjoying my horse. I am so thankful Lynn suggested this to me. Words cannot ever describe what I was feeling this afternoon. I was so proud of Linus but more so I had a feeling I never had with any horse before and that came from the fact that I am training him myself. I realised how much I have taken it for granted always being around already-trained horses in the past. Its a very gratifying feeling. Linus is filling a void I didn't know was there and I am so happy that I own him. He is only 11 months old, we have only just begun!!

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