dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Steele Thinks on Feet

This weekend was beautiful- sunny and warm. Sunday after attending the Remembrance Day Ceremonies in town  I've been riding Irish to check on whether the drug is having any effect. So far it's not. There's been no difference in his way of going. Rather than become depressed in the ring I decided that it would be a lovely day to go for a hack. In Nova Scotia November is deer hunting season. This means that it's not safe to be anywhere near the woods without wearing hunter orange. I won't even go into the woods until it ends. Except for Sundays. Sundays are supposed to be free of hunters. Life has taught me that not everyone abides by the rules so I still wear hunter orange in the woods. I took Belle with me and she was wearing her hunter orange vest. Dogs do get shot by hunters- either accidentally or on purpose so both dogs wear vests as well. What I hadn't reckoned on is that Irish thought that going into the woods with a bright orange dog was outside of his contract. After spending a bit of time trying to convince him that Belle was not satan incarnate I gave up and headed back to the ring.

While we were gone Steele was not impressed at being left behind and made his opinion known. After I finished with riding I decided that he and I needed to do some work together. For this story to make sense I need to describe my paddock set up:

Both stalls have dutch doors that open into a small sacrifice paddock. From here I can open one of 2 gates depending on which field in in rotation. The one to the left is larger and there is a chute with two gates to get into it.

I had both horses in the small paddock. I took Steele into the larger one via the chute but instead of closing both parts of the gate I only put the top tape across. My goal was to get Steele to focus on me rather than the grass or Irish. Irish was left in the small paddock and was totally unimpressed. Initially Steele hung at the gate but I used the lunge whip to get him away. He galloped off and tried to come behind me. I cut him off so he ran the other way and tried to get back to the gate. Again I cut him off. He headed to the top of the field and I followed. His eyes lit up and he did a nifty end run around me and headed hell bent for leather to the gate. As he galloped full out and then spied the tape across. He hit the brakes and went into a skid. We both realized that he wasn't going to stop in time. The rest all seemed to happen in slow motion. As he slid towards the gate he ducked his head and body and slid under. He came to a brief stop and I could see him go 'oh!'. with that he gunned it and slid under the second one. With a saucy flick of his tail he bolted into his stall with Irish hot on his heels.

I took a moment to laugh and wonder. I know that I am probably boring everyone when I go on about how smart he is but he figured out that his ducking worked and made use of it for the next gate in a split second. I love a horse that can think on his feet like this. As much as it can work against me (like in this example) it may also save my bacon in the future.

 As long as he learns to use it for good instead of evil.

I went into the stall to get him while he hid behind Irish. I took him back into the field and this time closed both tapes. He didn't go near them after that. Within 10 minutes I had him focused on me- following me all across the field, backing up and trotting beside me all without a lead line. He quite enjoyed it. I need to get my riding ring fenced and do some more reading on liberty work. It's a lot of fun. And good for a young horse with a busy little brain.....

I am so clever


  1. You are so right that a horse with this kind of mind makes an amazing riding horse. When you are out on a trail ride and they slip they don't panic, they just figure out how to keep going. Sometimes they aren't the easiest horse because they question things and find ways to get into trouble but I won't have any other kind of horse!!

  2. First, that picture is awesome. Second, ohmygoodness Steele! Quit trying to give us heart attacks lol. I'm so glad he's that clever and figured out to duck. What a genius! You are so going to have fun with him when you start riding. I wish you'd gotten that on video. :)

    1. it's hard to train and video all at the same time.

    2. Oh I know! It was wishful thinking. I say that all the time when I see something really cute or cool hehe. :D


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