By Patty Wilber
I was talking to my friend Dr. Stacie about treats as training aids. I am not a big treat giver, although I did train horses to the clippers with treats. It got to the point that when the horses heard the clippers they would come and offer to have their ears clipped in return for a horse cookie.
I am not into indiscriminate treat giving because then I have to tell the horses “STOP TOUCHING ME!” as they nose around my pockets for treats.
Treats as a training aid, though, well, it worked for the clippers.
So, I am proposing to recruit you all to try an experiment, and then you can send me your results and I will write a blog titled “How to treat your horse”. Stacie made up the title, and it is just too good to pass up!
Here is the admittedly weak study design: From the ground, train your horse to touch its nose to the ground. (Apparently, this could aid in shot giving because if you can get the horse to do this, its neck will not be so stiff and the shots won’t hurt as much.) It needs to be a horse that doesn’t know how to do this. Either do it with treats or with out (but not both). Tell me how old your horse is, whether you feel this a a smart, easy to train horse or not, how long it took and anything else you want to throw in. Feel free to send pictures and commentary. firstname.lastname@example.org
I am going to try to teach Indy and Atti. They are both young (4 and 3), they are both girls, but after that they are about as different as could be. I think I will use treats with Indy. I already have to remind Atti to keep her lips to herself several times a day!
My hypothesis is that things will go faster with treats.
Now on to the real topic: Remodelling! Over the years, we have redone fences and shelters in all our pens except one, and we finally got to it! You can see the old fence, the old shed and if you look closely, junk (fenced off from the horses, but junk none-the-less). This was some time ago, as there is green stuff. We are currently back in a drought and there is not much green going on.
Jim removed all the surface junk. That seemed like a simple job until we realized that for more than 20 years, things had been silting in. I spotted a couple of T-posts and pried them out. Each time I got one out, another appeared! I unearthed more than 20, and finally brought the tractor over to dig deeper and make sure we found them all…and we hit a few more! Then I got to play with the tractor to move dirt and crusher fine to bring up the grade.
We also replaced that nasty fence with 5-foot horse fence that we hot-wired top and bottom. As we were working on that, we discovered the charge strength was a bit weak, so we rewired a good part of the acre lot, too. One thing always leads to another!
Then on President’s Day, while I was teaching my Microbiology classes, Jim took out the old shed including the footings and a lot of rock. Then, he fenced off those trees in the corner to keep any horses from sneaking around behind them or eating them. Horses will find a way to get in trouble, even if you bubble wrap them. In our case, Indy, especially.
Case in point: Two weeks ago, Indy about killed herself (again) by somehow getting entangled in Atti’s horse blanket. The blanket ended up in pieces and Indy, scraped up her eye and had welts on her neck where she evidently was nearly strangled. Atti, whose blanket was completely removed from her body, was just fine.
Meanwhile behind and a little left of us (if we are standing in the pen picture, not the blanket picture above), Peter Harris built our new shelter. It is guttered so we can catch rainwater in the blue tub, and Peter and Jim both worked on moving the frost-free spigot to the outside of the pen, so that there will be no more accidental spigot bustings. LT broke the last one, not Indy, but it was probably all Bossy Penny’s fault. Just saying.
The new shed matches the other sheds Peter built a few years ago, so we are pretty upscale now!