Thursday, December 6, 2018

Winter Mode Engaged... Sort Of

It hasn't snowed here. That's just frost.
Lots and lots of frost.
Will I ever catch up on my ride recaps?

Probably not, haha.

Although, in some ways, it's not hugely necessary to recap every single ride right now. The lack of sunlight and cooler temps means that ring rides are finally non-existent, and the real "training" rides have more or less stopped. We do hacks where possible around the subdivision, as well as hand-walking and ground work. But other than that, it has quietened down in preparation for the winter season (which is disturbingly late, might I add... not that I should complain).

For the last few weeks, Annie gets ridden 1-2x a week where I can manage it. Which, is a stark comparison to the 4-6x a week schedule I managed most of the year. Since she had her shoes pulled two weeks ago, she is a bit more sensitive over the rocky areas in the subdivision so I've avoided any kind of real planned rides while I wait for her to adjust a bit more and have since been busy slathering keratex religiously on her hooves.

She's done pretty well tho, and I'm quite surprised how decent her feet are compared to when I first bought her. I debated long and hard about leaving her shod throughout the winter, but found the option to go sans shoes was much more appealing for a multitude of reasons. So... that's the direction we took.

I forgot that I had taken all my saddle pads home, so had to dig out
an old half pad. Ignore how fluffy and filthy she is, lol.
The day Farrier came to do the horse's feet, I took Annie out for a ride beforehand to expel any excess energy and to also get in a good ride before the weekend's torrential downpour touched down. The ride itself was great - we did quite a bit of trot work, as well as leg yielding which went really well. Annie felt good, although weak and a bit unbalanced from not being in consistent work. I didn't mind it tho, and appreciated her level of try as we practiced a few transitions and lateral work.

Most long-time readers know I've struggled with Annie and this particular farrier. We did switch to a farrier that had worked much better for Annie, but unfortunately, this farrier battled fires near his home and hasn't been able to fit us into his usual rotation. I do look forward to seeing him again next year though, because we did really enjoy him.

To be fair, there is no real difference in the farriers. For some reason, Annie just prefers the one and the current one she has shown issues with has done nothing to warrant suspicion from Annie. It's just the way she is, I guess. Despite all of this - Annie was foot perfect (no pun intended, haha). No dancing, no yanking her feet away, and no pretending to be afraid of him!! It's something I have worked so diligently and hard on all year, and making some small adjustments to the way we arranged the appointment certainly made a huge difference in Annie's demeanor and overall cooperation, I think.

This is huge for us
In the past, the Farrier had always wanted Annie's head pointing into the barn and haunches facing out - she is typically tied to the side of the tack room stall and almost always keeps her nose pointing out (the opposite of what Farrier wants). I wasn't sure if this was the source of her fidgeting (to try and see what is out there, or because she feels unsafe with her butt exposed??) but worked hard to implement some mock Farrier work to our routine. I'd pretend to bang in nails, hold her feet similarly as the farrier would, mock-rasp them, etc.

I never had an instance of resistance, and if I did - it was her yanking her foot away. Which, was easily corrected verbally. But for the Farrier, it was not that simple. Any verbal correction (a small "hey" or "quit") was met with Annie shying and spooking away from him. It was one of the weirdest things I've ever seen, because Farrier had never ever hit her or shown any aggression. He spent a lot of time going slow, petting her, giving her breaks, etc. Nothing seemed to work.

I started to think that maybe I was also part of the problem. During appointments, I could feel myself getting nervous Annie would be bad for the Farrier, and that nervousness would escalate as the wheels fell off. And we all know how horses mirror our emotions. So, on our last appointment of 2018 I simply tied her like I usually do, and stepped out of the way. Farrier had to wear a little head-lamp to get enough light in the barn shadows (the light in there isn't the best to begin with) but otherwise worked around Annie.

She no longer spooks at the kids playground, so that's good, haha.
And it worked.

I can't say this is "cured" or that there won't be instances of poor behavior in the future, but it gave me a lot of hope.

The farrier issues was another reason I opted to go barefoot this Winter - although it wasn't the main reason - to give Annie a short, productive, and positive appointment. Typically it works well for the first two feet and then it goes downhill from there. We'll work back up to having both fronts shod and possibly all four, pending how she feels returning to full work next year. All in good time and all that.

For the most part tho, Annie and Spud are fully immersed into Winter mode.

Why the long face, Annie?
We've pursued some short hacks since having her shoes pulled and she's been pretty stellar. A bit more spookier than usual and more interested in her surroundings, but it only really lasts for a few minutes before she settles and realizes its all business as usual.

The temperature has plummeted over the last few days, which meant the horse's water heater finally got turned on for the very first time this season. It's been an interesting change - typically we have several inches of snow at this point, but it seems as though the snow has prolonged it's arrival year after year. While I certainly won't complain about the lack of snow, I am hesitant to participate in any form of celebration, as I fear the snow will hit later in the season and stick around well into the Spring.

The kids and I took a chilly -10C walk around the neighborhood
meeting scary fake moose, haha.
Anyways, weather stuff aside, I am enjoying the time with the horses. I did a quick little hand-walk with the two ponies yesterday, which left me in stitches when Annie and Spud decided to be downright terrified by a fake light-up moose in someone's front yard. It took a few minutes of cajoling before either of them believed that it wouldn't kill them, and they finally sniffed noses with it.

Annie was pretty hilarious. It took her several sniffs before she thought about it all vs just reacting and spooking. On her last sniff, she looked at me like, "Oh... it's fake."

*sniff; spook; snort*
*goes in for second sniff; spooks; dances in place*
*sniffs and actually thinks about it*
*looks at me; deadpan face*

Spud had initially not really cared about the fake moose, but fed off of Annie's insecurities and was also convinced the moose meant imminent death.

The hilarity in it was that I had just done some in hand and desensitization work with Annie before our walk, and she seemed less than enthused with the "spooky" things I came up with. But sure, I guess fake moose is much scarier than a bucket loudly falling off your butt.


Makes total sense to be afraid of a fake moose.


  1. Winter mode is moving in here too. I’m trying to accept it. I do think the the moose would be pretty scary. I like that Annie is growing up and being good with the farrier

    1. I figured you were in the same boat weather-wise!! I'm actually kind of looking forward to it - giving Annie some good ol R&R and waiting for the nice warm weather to continue our training :)

      I think the moose would have been scary had it been moving and/or bigger. It was a pretty small decoration!

      Me too!

  2. Sophie is proving a little tricky with the farrier too. Nice work with Annie!

    1. Hopefully Sophie gets the message sooner than Annie did, lol!! I'm sure she will be a good little golden nugget pony soon - you are so diligent with them!!

  3. We don't have much snow either, just lots of frozen mud! lol

  4. oh man, figuring out some of those farrier issues is definitely a big deal - nice work!

  5. Great job resolving the farrier stuff! I know how tricky that can be and it speaks volumes that you did some homework and found a solution. Fingers crossed it works into the future.

  6. The weather is so strange this year. It got cold very early here, and it stuck around. I hope that means an early spring!
    Glad to hear Annie was good for the farrier.