Curtailed because Henry arrived (see George’s blog for details) and I put Abe away while the new baby came off the box and into his stable.
All the same, Abe had a good walk, with several good higher-than-usual steps and a good solid stop on a mat into the bargain, so well done him!
It could have been much worse – getting locked into George’s stable would be quite worrying! Getting locked into Abe’s – much less so.
Every now and again everyone forgets to make sure the kick-bolt on a stable door is all the way over before going in, and this morning was my turn. I went in, did Abe’s feet, put on his rug, went to open the door….. and it didn’t. I looked over the door and yep, the kick-bolt had flipped back and was doing its job, stopping the door opening even when the bolt was unfastened.
I had a slight problem at this point because before I could climb over the door, I first had to persuade Abe to stop ‘helping’! Every time I moved him away from the door, he was back at it almost before I was, looking over it or prodding me with his nose, or making his best kissy-face at me in the hope of getting a treat!
(His best kissy-face is a ridiculous movement composed of stretching his head and neck right out and twisting so his head is side on, then wiggling his nose at you while batting his lashes!)
Eventually I got him to leave me alone by giving him a big handful of nuggets, then tossed the treat pouches and my coat out over the door before trying to hoist myself over it.
Wasn’t that easy. I got not-quite-far enough a couple of times, then tried for hooking a heel over the top and hauling myself up that way – which did work. Abe looked quite horrified and George, watching over the wall, clearly thought I was mad, too, but I got myself onto the top of the door, then twisted round, got my other leg over and was on two feet in the passageway.
Heaven help me when I get too old for these gymnastics!
It’s all very well encouraging your horses to be creative, fearless, innovative and imaginative, but Abe is, I feel, taking this the wrong way. This morning I went into his stable to check if his water drinker was frozen (it wasn’t – but all the taps were!) and as I turned my back on him to shoot the bolt on the door, something poked me in the buttock.
I turned around in time to see Abe, complete with innocent expression, putting his off fore back on the ground.
I finished shooting the bolt, getting another prod in the butt, and again turned back in time to see him just putting his hoof down.
It seems he’s figured out another way to use that Spanish Walk technique he invented!
This evening we played with an umbrella, just to make sure he doesn’t forget, and then I tried out my new measuring tool, which measures a straight line from wither along the line of the shoulder to the throat. Abe will need a 19 inch collar, when we get to that.
– of getting-closer-to Spanish Walk! I took him along the barn’s corridor and back this morning and although he still doesn’t really have the idea sorted in his head, we did get a couple of steps where he lifted his forelegs more than usual for walk (not full height yet, but definitely a little higher than a normal step) while still maintaining forward motion. Better yet, they were one immediately after the other, so he used both forelegs! He’s very cleverly cottoned on to me pointing to the shoulder nearer to me as I lead him as the signal for him to lift that leg, and – even more cleverly! – he’s connected that to me pointing to the shoulder further away from me, too, and worked out what that means.
Arabs are well-known to be highly intelligent but I reckon Abe’s clever even for an Arab!
Abe is sort of on the back burner, since George and Dancer are conspiring to soak up every free second I can find between them, but he’s putting up with all nobly and just looking hopefully at me over his stable door at frequent intervals, so while I was waiting for a lift home tonight (the car has had yet another trip to the garage! – hopefully this time it’s properly fixed and I won’t see one particular annoying little orange light again….) I took him out for a bit of work on his Spanish Walk.
He’s got the forward-and-lift motion of the front legs nailed firmly, and he knows the signals for it perfectly well, so I thought I’d try combining those with forward motion, which he hasn’t been asked to do before – but it’s the logical next move in developing Spanish Walk, after all.
He was somewhat puzzled at first and kept doing a leg-hoist followed by a step, but then he suddenly did a leg-lift and put his hoof down forward, which got him masses of praise and treats, and after a few more steps he managed it again. We only went the length of the barn and back, but in the course of that he did produce half a dozen good forward-and-lift steps, each of which received rapturous praise from me, and hopefully he’ll think about it overnight and when we try it again he’ll remember and be able to make more progress.
It’s quite a big ask for a still very young horse, but we’ll take it at his pace and see where we get to.
And I wish he hadn’t decided to try this one out!
It’s quite simple. He waits until I’m distracted by something and then puts his nose up and licks my face with his large, slimy, wet horse tongue. Unfortunately it gets a great response – I reel away wiping my face with cries of ‘Abe! You revolting monster!’ and anyone seeing it laughs like a drain.
He likes this. He’s going to keep doing it.
It was another nasty day outdoors today, so I put the mats down for Abe to play on again. I ended up making it a very short session as the wet weather is making the floor in the barn quite slippy – Lynn is power-washing it as and when she gets time and that helps greatly, but wet concrete is just like that when you add a layer of mud from boots, hooves, quad and trailer tes, etc.
Better safe than sorry and I don’t want any of the horses slipping, so we made a slow progress along the barn and back, stepping on mats as we went, and then he went back into his stable for the night.
If we get a dry day, I’ll take the mats over to the school and give the boys a session there. Separately!