Friday, October 31, 2014

First day of ownership

So last night I met with Elk's owner.  The plan was for me to put down a deposit--she was allowing me a while to pay off the full purchase price, since she'd initially said I could lease her for six months.  But I decided to just pull the trigger and pay the full amount.  So we still have to get the paperwork finalized, but she's MINE.

I'm also going to rename her Arya.  I think it fits a little better than Elk, plus it's easier to holler across a pasture.  :-)

So tonight I went out to Shar's.  There had been a plan to ride tonight, at Skull Hollow--appropriate, right?  But due to weather, the ride got called off.  The weather at Shar's was such that we probably COULD have ridden, but I was cool with just doing groundwork.  Sound like we're going to get a LOT of miles (for me) tomorrow.

So I got Elk out, and finally measured her for a blanket (for the coldest/windiest of nights--I'm not going to clip her, and she's a mustang, so she'll be fine most nights.  We also eyeballed her height using a tape, so VERY inaccurate, but it seems like she might be closer to 15.2 than to 16 hands.  Whatever.  She's certainly BIG--she's 80 inches from stem to stern (you measure mid-point of chest to mid-point of rump around the side of the horse when measuring for a blanket).  She also weighs approximately 1,200 pounds, according to the tape (also not very accurate--you simply run the tape around their body, and the tape reads out in pounds, so of course it can vary from what the tape says.  Maybe someday we'll have to put her on the truck scale at work...

Anyway, then Shar got Goodwin out and we took them to the arena.  We attempted to both work with our individual horses separately, but Elk/Arya was VERY flirty.  Yeah, she's in heat.  So she'd sidle up to Goodwin and sniff his rear end then squirt and flirt.  Goodwin wasn't very impressed.  But it was distracting for both horses.  Shar and I were working on "clicker" training--teaching the horses to touch a specific target.

Then we took both their halters off to free lunge them a bit.  Goodwin has more energy and is a lot more graceful than Arya, but they seemed to enjoy getting the wiggles out.

I tried to work with Arya on picking up (and HOLDING up!) her feet.  Meanwhile, Shar took Goodwin to put him away and feed all the critters.  Whenever I'd make a move toward her feet, Elk would start to meander off.  So rather than let her just walk away when I was clearing working toward a purpose, I MADE her go away, at a trot.  Not far, and not for long, but then I'd invite her back to me, she'd come, and I'd go for her feet again.  A couple times of that, and she let me pick up one of her front feet.  Then she got a treat for not trying to slam it down.  Then I went for the other one, and she walked off again.  So I sent her away again.  This time, she bucked and KICKED, and hadn't gotten far enough away from me for that to be allowed--her hoof made contact with my hand.  Luckily, it wasn't a more immovable part of my body, so no damage done, but that is absolutely NOT ALLOWED.

I tore after her like she was in big trouble, because she was.  I made her run and run and run.  Then, when I invited her back to me again, she was a little more contrite and cooperative.  I successfully picked up both back feet (for a few seconds, not long enough to actually pick them clean) and called it a day.

I took her back to her pasture.  Shar had already put her hay into her feed bin, so for the first time, she wasn't content to just stand around while I un-haltered her, and wait around to ask for some face rubs before meandering off.  No, now she had motivation to get away from me ASAP, and she started to plow into me (I was between her and the food).  So once again, I had to remind her about boundaries--I whapped her face as she plowed it into me.  She stood pretty nicely while I finished unhaltering her, and I let her go.

Sheesh--you buy a horse and all of a sudden she thinks she can walk all over you.

Tomorrow--likely our longest (and most strenuous) trail ride together, but nothing she hasn't done before.

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