Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Little Mr Routine, expand his horizons. A long winded ramble, grab a coffee

I have a bit of a ramble going here, thinking post ?maybe but definitely wordy
Also  my friend Amy asked me once to describe  my routine with haltering , (She asked when Dandy was a foal, so sorry Amy , better late than never?)
I haven't talked much about Harley and his halter training etc ,not because it didn't go well, but more because it wasn't changing much.
Everyone has a different routine and style when it comes to handling foals. I,as a general rule don't mess with them a whole lot before weaning, call it a lack of time or motivation,but it is what it is. I am around them  lots,and am lucky enough to have good minded horses and foals ,who in the event of an emergency I could and have gotten a hold of  to deal with injuries etc. But here the real work of haltering happens once they are weaned .
As with all of them I work in the stall , teaching them boundaries, and to give to pressure, be mindful of my space and then I get out  my soft cotton rope and begin,first rubbing them all over then drop it over their neck and  hooking it . I never (when they are really  young ) set back and hold hard and fast , rather I keep pressure on and move with them , asking them to give until they do .I then either make a makeshift halter out of the rope or actually put a halter on them and begin the process again, never holding hard and fast , just keeping gentle pressure, always letting them feel they have somewhere to go ,but not letting them run over or drag me . I do this as often as I can , and then ,in Harley case  halter him to move him to a clean stall  while I clean his. We had a bit of a delay getting Harley out of the barn for turnout due to weather and some concerns about  feral dogs ,but eventually we got it done. His first trip out of the barn went  quite well, similar to  his work indoors I kept  gentle pressure to  control him but rarely set back on the rope . He was nervous and a bit "up " but all in all it went well. Every day he is out for several hours and he is getting to be a great fellow leading in and out of the barn ,had a couple of silly moments and tried to take off, there is when I  do hold on and set back a bit . Martin was worried about my arm (left ) and wanted  2 ropes on him, but I prefer to do my own stunts LOL ,I just used my good arm, and when he really  tried hard I put my"back into it a bit " still not hard and fast or  dallied onto a solid object  and Harley  found his little red self on his side in a snow drift! Totally unhurt, but he did need to find out there was an end to that rope. Since then he has been much more mindful of pressure.
So to the title of the post . Harley is like many a creature of  habit, that is why consistency and repetition works with horses, they  do seem to like boundaries and routine . Harley  more so than others,he is very like his grand sire in that. Chips seems to have an internal clock and if you were 5 min early or late He let you know ! Did not like change in routine AT ALL .
Every time I haltered Harley till today , I would drop the rope over his neck and then halter him. I have tried for several days now to  just go ahead and put the halter on, he is not fearful of it , just seems to want to stick to the program. But I need him to be OK with  just being haltered with out the rope, (if he is sold the new owner might not always do every little thing the same , and here is one way where you can develop a "hard to catch" horse. If they have always only been caught and haltered one way , it can take them off  guard when you  just come at them with a halter, and they may shy back , and be at the very least resistant  to this.)
So every day I have tried to "broaden his horizons and offered  just the halter first, he has until today turned away and tried to evade, but as soon as I drop the rope over his neck he is fine. Today , I went in , same routine talked to him, rubbed his neck and slipped the halter over his nose,he popped his head up, but I just sweet talked him and stayed with him,and he relaxed , so I took it off. and tried again... SUCCESS!!
Also walked out of the barn just like a wise old school horse! Good Boy Harley
Not sure if my descriptions make good sense , and I am not here to tell anyone how to handle colts, its how I do things and it works for me , also when I have been asked to help other folk halter unhandled yearlings , the same routine has been effective FOR ME. Bottom line is  give the horse time to understand  you and while you  are applying pressure, I never make a young horse feel like they have nowhere to go, I just encourage them to go the way I want them to.
Anyhow , young Harley is growing up, smart as a whip, and  sweet tempered as I have come to expect from these critters of mine
And tough enough to wear pink! 
Stay safe and warm my friends


GoLightly said...

You make perfect sense, and I so wish more started their colts just this way!

This made me LOL "I prefer to do my own stunts"
You are too funny:)

Nice to see Winston doing his supervising, what a dog!

Shirley said...

It's a nice safe program and nobody gets hurt. Harley is sure a nice deep red now, isn't he?
By the way, Beamer says Andee would be most welcome for a visit, his schedule is quite open this year.

Unknown said...

That really was some great info and made perfect sense. I really wish some one had had the common sense to work that way with my mare when she was young. Instead the used dogs to chase her around the pasture when they wanted to catch her. 2 years later she is finally over that, but it was a long haul for sure.
I like your new lay out too! (Marissa changed hers as well)

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Chased her with dogs???that is a special kind of stupid!!! Glad you were able to get her over that! Poor darlin!And which blogger is Marissa?I try to keep up but...

Crystal said...

Sounds pretty sensible to me, and it obviously works since everyone there is very people friendly :) I do agree its nice to have them able to deal with different stuff if selling cause I know lots of people who halter horses really awkwardly then wonder why they are so hard to catch!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Sounds like you're doing a great job and I like how you mix things up a bit so the babies don't get too stuck on a routine way of doing things. Because as we all know, life isn't routine and situations constantly change. We all, horses included, have to learn to be flexible and to go with the flow :)

Gosh..Harley is cute and so a deep mahogany red, too!


aurora said...

Sounds sensible to me, and sooo important. Harley is one good lookin' guy!

sally said...

Harley is cute ....and there is nothing wrong with pink .....looks good with the snow to set it off and I love the new header!

phaedra96 said...

I think the key to working with a foal is keeping it low-key, soft and non-threatening. i messed with mine from the moment they were born-haltered, led, tied. Always with mama, always supervised, and always short spans. By the time they were weaned and sold; they were troopers. Like you said, a good mind makes all the difference.

Janice said...

Sound advice,I left my comment
( by mistake) on a previous post about catching up with all your posts. Love your new Header. Take care .