Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weaning Time

This weekend was weaning time. Saturday, the outside arena was turned into a temporary lot for the broodmares. A round bale was put into the lot and the water tank was filled. By 8:30 the next morning, mares were in the outside arena and the three 5 month old foals were in their lot. Everyone was whinnying. Mares were pacing their lot, going back and forth from the round bale to the gate. Every time the babies whinnied, the mares would answer and pace. The babies wanted their mama’s and, their mama’s nourishment. They were distracted for a while with their morning grain and grass hay. The older gelding, Red, was in the lot beside them to keep the babies company. Red was content, and was enjoying the round bale that he had to himself! The stud was in the other lot that was adjacent to the foals. The steer was in the lot next to the stud. The steer would bellow when he heard the horses whinnying. Did he think he should be fed too? The horses in the bottom lot were also whinnying, calling for the mares. They used to share a fence, and now they wondered why the mares got moved.

At noon time, I checked the foals and fed them some more alfalfa hay and that distracted them. Everyone started to quiet down as the day got warmer. 70’s for early November is uncharacteristic weather. I thought it would be nap time for the horses, with the sun shining bright and warm on their backs. But the mares were still pacing between the round bale and the gate. Starlet led, followed closely by Goldie. Chick followed sometimes and other times, she was eating at the round bale. I fed them a portion of their daily grain to help calm everyone down. Hopefully, they will stand in the sun and start snoozing!

I rode in the afternoon in the adjoining field. I wanted to stay close to the house and barn so I could hear the babies. I wasn’t feeling well, but knew I had to keep Finny in condition for our next CTR, so I had to cowgirl up and ride, regardless of that cramp feeling and discomfort! But the hunters were close by too, or someone was target shooting in the neighboring field. I only rode to the middle of the field then back to the road. I went to the next field, follow some ditches that Finny would never have willingly walked over, without jumping, a year ago. I practiced staying light in the saddle, by 2-pointing when I trotted. While walking, I practiced a different feel, deepening my heels without forcing myself out of the saddle. Last week, I shortened one stirrup, and today I had to shorten the other side to feel even. When you mount and dismount on one side, the leather stretches out, so you can’t determine correct length from counting holes in the stirrup leathers. One side always feels a little short. As I raise my toes to reach the stirrup, I’m already thinking that I need to shorten the near side stirrup again. My legs are back yet relaxed, but I can raise my foot higher than the stirrup heighth. If I don't raise the stirrup, I will be reaching for it, and once again, appearing heavy in the seat!

I crossed the country road and rode the fields a ½ mile from the barn. The waterway between the corn fields lead to a bean field that I loped. Finny had been trotting for part of an hour, and wanted to stretch his legs. We loped with a collective gait for a ½ mile, before turning west for a short distance. Once I reached a tree line near the road, I turned towards the barn. It was time to check mares and babies. Walking the short distance where I crossed the street. I looked around. Once again, a perfect day. High 70’s, sun, and a light breeze. Warm enough for Finny’s neck to sweat. I walked the hills in the next field, working on building endurance for this next weekend’s CTR. Walking the grass area next to the road, I left Finny graze on the green grass, knowing that there may not be fresh grass much longer. Walking the edge of the field next to the corn stalks, Finny never startled from the sound of the breeze moving the stalks. I rode the terraces, working on staying light in the saddle as I walked downhill. Once again, we rode the water areas, enjoying the sounds of the horse’s legs splashing through the water. The horses saw us and called for us, alerting the babies. I heard the whinnies and knew that it was time to feed for the evening. I walked past the dog kennel, with the frayed edges of the tarp cover blowing in the breeze, and Finny didn’t startle. None of the dogs made a noise as they are getting used to seeing us walk past.

The mares noticed us, and once again started their whinnying and pacing. I’m sure by now they would be bagging up and leaking. After putting Finny in his lot, I checked babies and mares. Everyone seems fine, just a little angry for being separated. Starlet’s foals is anxious, and running and kicking. I want to pacify with their evening grain. As I went into the lot, the babies crowded the gate, especially Honey. She wants whoever will rub her. She has definitely calmed down and isn‘t looking for her mom. I pushed my way through to the feed tank, as the only concern that the three of them had was to get their noses into the bucket. They were a little tense, but not sweaty, so I knew they didn’t run around too much. Red is a great babysitter, and he was calmly eating his grain. He had stayed calm all afternoon, and that kept the foals a little quieter. Duke, on the other hand, was on high alert, watching those youngsters, but not running around his pen either.

The mares were fed a little grain. Not too much grain because I wanted them to dry up. But the one older mare, Chick, is a little thin from lactating all summer, and her baby, Chex, was the oldest. She nursed a little longer than the other mares, and he sucked her down. Chick is our older reining mare, and she always is a hard keeper. Metabolism is high and adrenaline always flows in her veins! So the mares will get a high fat grain until they have put a little weight on. I was surprised to see udders weren’t too swollen, so maybe they won’t be tight and uncomfortable for the mares tonight.

The next morning was another story. Everyone is still whinnying, but not running around. I only heard the mares once during the night, as the outside arena is not far from my bedroom window! I think they were only whinnying for their grain! The mare’s udders were a little larger, with some dried milk on their back legs. By evening it didn’t seem worse, so maybe those udders leaked throughout the day to give the mares some comfort. The foals had eaten all of their alfalfa hay, so I gave them extra for the day. Time to go to the tack store for the day.

When I got home, everyone was ok in their respective lots, so I rode before chores. The sunset was gorgeous! I rode to the top of each hill and snapped pictures. The leaves were almost gone! I could see for miles. The sun threw hues of red and orange across the horizon, stretching further and further as the sun sank lower in the sky. I trotted the field for ½ hour and headed to the barn. Dusk came fast tonight.

Mares and babies were getting used to being apart at chore time. Chores were uneventful with only a few whinnies, mainly from Starlet and her foal! He is such a momma’s boy yet, but he will learn. The mare’s udders were still swollen. But the mares exercise themselves, walking that fence line. I think they have a path from the round bale to the gate, and another path up and down the south fence! Everyone is eating well and drinking well. No one seems sucked up from lack of water, or milk in case of the foals. Everyone is eating and drinking,. Mares and babies are both on a high fat, pelleted grain, which is high in nutrition. The mare’s round bale of brome hay is giving them the fiber that they need, and pacifying them throughout the day. The babies will grow with the appropriate protein and nutrients, building strong legs and bone growth from the alfalfa hay and the high quality grain. In another week or so, the mares will go to the big lot, to winter along side the geldings. I like the horses to be together, living in a small herd, staying warm as they huddle together. But those cold temps are far from our thoughts on this perfect, 70 degree day!

I enjoyed the sunset tonight, and the warm breeze. I enjoyed watching the mares and babies eat. I enjoyed seeing Red with some energy. I will continue to watch the mares and babies. I will have fun seeing what different personalities come out in the weanlings as they will develop their pecking order, now that their mothers aren’t around to influence the others!
Come along for the ride!


mugwump said...

Hi Brenda. How many horse have you got? What do you raise? Are you a competetive trail rider? I've been toying with doing a ride or two over the nnext few years.....

mugwump said...

Hi Brenda,
What kind of horses do you raise? Are you a competetive trail rider? I've been toying with the idea,since I've retired and have a horse in the mountains, but I haven't been on a competetive
trail ride since I was in high school. Yikes. That would be the

Brenda said...

Hi mugwump! I raise QH's, mostly Deck of Stars and Good Asset bloodlines. I do have a Chick Colonel Chick mare that I bred to a reining stud this year. I haven't had babies for about 3 years, with the market liek it is. But I teach riding lessons to a lot of kids, and my husband wanted me to breed the lesson mares to my stud. Go figure!!! :-))) I have had 3 kids in the show world, and the youngest is in college. I was slowly getting burned out on coaching, training, running kids, dealing with teenage kids, etc, etc!!! Last year, I had time for a few trail rides, and realized that I needed to get back to riding like I did as a kid! I rode the PA Appalachian mountains all the time! Last fall, I started Competitive Trail Riding, and will ride in my 5th ride this weekend. I ahve found the niche that I truly enjoy, trail riding mixed with competition! It is very much a 1-on-1 sport with your horse, like speed events or reining. I am judged on how well we do obstacles, how well conditioned we are, how well I "maintain" correct centered riding position!!! lol I "thought" I was a great rider...this sport humbled you! Yes, try this sport. With your background, you know how to condition horses and it gives us the break from the arena that we need! I have just started reading your blog, and I truly enjoy it! I relate to what you are writing about and your style! Brenda

Tammy said...

I am trying to remember if the night you rode & commented on the sunset was the same night I was riding. I took Baby in the arena and noticed the sunset was turquoise blue & pink. I was torn between riding & going back to get my camera. Since we have only so much daylight left, I rode. Dang near fell off - if you saw my blog on Baby - but it was nice to be out.

Your poor babies! Anxious to see them again!


Brenda said...

Hi tv, the sunset was gorgeous on Monday. I wished the evenings were longer so I could ride longer. yes, I always enjoy your posts about your rides on your horses. I hope Windy is better soon. I'm ready to hear how she is doing! B

Nosnikta said...

Your babies sure are pretty, Brenda. I love the colors you got this year.

My Mags is dark dark bay like Duke. I still think Spike is really her daddy lol!


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