I've been experimenting again. (No surprise there!) Saturday I decided to try turning the herd OUTSIDE (my way of saying outside the fences...big deal to them, so it has to be in caps) in the evening before grain.
Talk about excitement! They knew what I was going to do when they saw me with the ropes I use to put up the temporary 'fence' that keeps them back from the road. It was a full out gallop from the back of their pasture...eyes sparkling, ears forward and "Whooo hooo hooo'ing" from Lucky, who loves to talk even more than I do.
I opened the gate and out they came, stopping long enough to touch my hand and to take off jumping, running and bucking into their long space OUTSIDE. It's hilly, like nearly all of our property is, so they look like ships in a rocky sea, disappearing in the valleys and reappearing on the hills. Every time they came to the top of the hill, Apache did a star buck straight up. Lucky was having too much fun running to worry about exuberant jumps. He just wanted to stretch out and go!
John came home part way through chores, so we finished together while we talked about the day. The days are shorter, so I was only able to leave them out for about an hour. I wouldn't worry about them, but Willow was with them and we have lots of predators out here who might find her a tasty little morsel. And it's hunting season too. I don't want some hunter, who's sneaking around on the preserve, accidentally shooting at my horses. It's happened before across the road. Never want to go there again!
We sauntered out to bring them in. In the mornings they come in on their own because they know when it's time for grain. But this was new...being OUTSIDE in the evening... so no pattern is set. I whistled as I walked out with John. I have one I use just for them that mimics one of the song birds we have here in the Summer (easy to tell me apart from the birds since whistling is not my strong suit). John was going to walk in with Apache and me with Lucky. Willow usually follows us with no prompting.
Lucky came to me, no problemo. It's my reward...that draw. He comes ears forward and face soft. Even though I've said it over and over...THANK YOU PAT PARELLI! That's such a gift from a horse.
I have to stop here and tell you that I bought a new bit of equipment, this time for me. Running alongside Lucky has gotten harder for me, especially since he's so healthy now. He stretches those long legs of his and, even in an easy foxtrot, he can out pace me. He's getting better and better at matching himself to me, but when grain is in the offing he wants to go faster. Food is serious business to Lucky (*big grin here*). So last week I drove into town and went to the shoe store that all the serious athletes go to. They don't have riding boots, mores the pity. But they do have cross country running shoes made especially for running on rough ground. Around here that's mostly what we have...all pasture and gravel roads.
They also have this computerized platform that you can stand on to have your feet analyzed. Way cool! It shows whether you have a tendency to pronate (roll your feet to the outside) or not, what your arch is like, how your feet strike the ground and where the pressure points are. Shizaam! It shows you everything on a big monitor and then tells you whether or not you need to add anything to the inside of your running shoe to make your stride more efficient.
Was it expensive? Yupe. But it was not as expensive as going to a Podiatrist and buying those $800 pads for the inside of your shoes. In fact it was 10 times less expensive and more effective, in my humble layman's opinion. I used to run, when we lived in town, for exercise. Got really hooked on that runners high, but the injuries to my legs were the downside. Driving into town to run takes up too much time and fuel, so I haven't used that as my exercise for years.
Running out here was worse. And running in riding boots? Shin splints, cramps, hip injuries have become an issue. Everything is solvable though, so I spent the money and it's working! When we're doing Online or Liberty, it's cross country shoes and insoles every time from now on. Injuries are a thing of the past. I'd like to meet the person who designed the program that analyzes your stride and foot and shake his or her hand, maybe even give them a hug! The shoes are practically doing the running for me!
Back to the story...the long and short of it is that Lucky and I ran in to the barn together! I used my Savvy String around his neck, but didn't really need it. We had a blast! In fact, we had so much fun we did it again on Sunday morning and this time HE OFFERED! When it was time for grain, I whistled and he turned and came to me and asked the question. "Wanna run? Great day for it, don't you think?" Of course my answer was " I'm on board Big Kahuna! Let's rock!"
We started with a nice walk with him matching me! (This is so HUGE for us! It was at Liberty and he suggested it!) And, with just one little "cluck" I was able to take us up to his gait (he usually foxtrots or does a lateral pace) and then we came back down. We were doing transitions at Liberty with him matching me. It was a first for us at Liberty. Good thing is wasn't too buggy yet because I had a huge grin on my face as we came down the trail the whole length of the field. I would have had bugs in my teeth!
He even cantered into his paddock the last several paces. HUGE! (my favorite word for our breakthroughs, if you can't tell by now.) Part of the reason it worked for us was due to my new shoes . I was doing wind sprints with Lucky and not even breathing hard. The shoes were doing enough of the work for me that we were able to match our paces to each other. And no sore joints either.
I love this program! #3. TOOLS in the 7 Keys to Success was so important for us. YEEHAW! I've even gone back to jogging in the mornings again, in my own pastures. It just doesn't get any better than that!
I am, always yours, Nancy ... smiling!