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December 2009

Keeping Warm

Days are short and nights long.  Slowly they switch rolls,  each day gaining a little more, until the climax of the first day of summer. Then the light slowly retreats again.  

 Currently,  I feel like most of my day is consumed by either lugging water or breaking ice.  The piggies love warm water and drink it up fast.  I got the fun idea to take this picture after one of my friends emailed me "I hope our oink-er is bundled up in a hat and mittens"  I couldn't resist giving it a try for the camera.  One of the pigs would tolerate me trying the props out.  Luckily digital was invented otherwise I could have spent roll of film on this alone.  After twenty or so trys,  he stopped shaking the hat off while I focused in.  Piggy in winter

When NOT being Green is Good!

Have you ever wondered how a trainer decides when a horse is no longer green? Like people,  horses learn at different rates.  Also like people,  horses may or may not understand their teacher. 

Liza Dec face
This spring and early summer while Liza was in her early education,  many people called to inquire about her.   Although Liza has a good head on her shoulders,  I told everyone she was still green.  To me,  that means the horse doesn't know how to negotiate new and sometimes scary situations.  Usually the horse will try to get out of a situation,  rather than listen to the rider, ie. baulking or rushing.  Any horse has the potential to do this if the rider or handler isn't communicating fairly and clearly.  This is why green horses are not for beginner or passive riders.  It amazes me when people say "he's green but safe"  Thats like letting a teenager drive a Nascar.

Pushing a young horse past a scary culvert will only leave negative feeling in that horse each time it encounters a frightful object.  The more times you encourage the inherent curiosity of a horse,  the more self-confident they get.   This specifically brings me back to a trail ride a prospective buyer took on Liza this spring.  Liza was wide-eyed and standing puffed up because the neighbor had put out new holiday decorations.   The prospective buyer didn't want to deal with that,  even though Liza didn't bolt or spook,  it was not the ride she was looking for.  Today I took Liza out for a ride in the woods.  A tree that once covered the trail was cut and one end protruded up out of the snow.  I thought,  "this will get her attention!"  Liza looked,  and went over to the log and touched it with her nose.   For Liza,  this was a big step forward in her self-confidence and attitude toward accepting her surroundings.  To me this means even though she doesn't know a flying lead change,  she is fading out of being Green.   Now I am sure some of you are saying, "my Morgan isn't scared of anything.   Yet  he doesn't listen to leg aids,  does that make him  green?"  No,  not necessarily,  you have to look at the whole picture.  Again,  like us,  we don't all graduate at the same age.

I still think trail riding is the best training for horses.  Liza went to a Parelli Clinic and learned to listen even though she was somewhere new.  We went to Green Mountain Horse Association and jumped fancy obsticals in new rings.  Plus she got to see a lot of new horses.  We trailered to friends houses to trail ride and road ride.  This summer she got ridden by a young girl who was a great match for her.  It was awesome to watch her perform in the hands of someone new.  All of these contributed to her well-roundedness. 

This winter,  we will hone in on Liza's dressage and jumping.  This summer was too short and I didn't make it to a show with her.  I will try one this winter,  maybe down in MA.