Tuesday, April 5, 2011

" Donnie "

' Donnie '

There is not much going on around the farm right now because of the weather, yet again.  The forecast is for rain every day this week.  So to pass the time I thought I would do a series on all of our horses beginning with how they came to be with us and ending with what they are doing now.  This first story is about Donnie.  I posted his story in 2009 and if you would like to check out Donnie’s beginnings and difficulties please click on these links:

Most of the readers to my blog know Donnie’s history but for the few new people visiting the blog I’d like to introduce Donnie and his issues to those who haven’t met him yet.  Donnie is a unique individual and his distressing history is worth the read. We feel Donnie is making real progress towards becoming a “real” horse and for now I’ll be reporting on how well he is doing with his training.

We’ve been working sporadically with all the horses this winter and, as usually happens, the horses that aren’t being ridden don’t get the work they deserve or need.  Unfortunately, Donnie falls into this category.  But all that will be changing this week.  He’s going back to work/training.

Before the winter started he was doing very well on the longe even with a saddle and girth.  Personally, I think the Le Tixerant girth is helping by not constricting his rib cage but breathing with him.

My daughter was brave enough to try a short ride on him around the indoor, which he did very well with. To our disbelief, we accomplished this feat easily enough.  After longeing a short time under saddle, we took him to the mounting block.  My daughter tried her weight in the stirrup and across the saddle a few times.  Donnie stood like a rock and never moved.  We figured it was now or never and she swung her leg over and very gently sat in the saddle.  No reaction.   That was a good sign. We then literally took it a step further and I walked next to him feeding him treats while we circled the short end of the arena twice.  Then walked him into the center, praised him A LOT, and then she dismounted.  

That was the last time he was worked before the weather made it almost impossible to get anything done.  Do you think he remembers his good experience after these many months?  We’ll soon find out because Donnie will be starting his longeing again with and without saddle and, when he’s ready, my daughter will try walking under saddle again.  Some ponying with a steady horse might be in his future too, but that’s undecided as of now.

I’m also going to start some clicker training with him.  I’ve never done this with any horse but have read on some blogs how well it seems to work.  If nothing else, I think it might encourage him to have confidence in himself when he succeeds at easy tasks.  Donnie is one of the most interested horses in our herd.  He always comes when you call him by name.  He’s the first one to nicker when one of us walks in the barn and he loves interacting with us.  When we first met Donnie no one could touch his ears and, disgusting as this might sound, you can now put your fingers right in there for a good scratch.  I remember when he would give the farrier a hard time with his back feet, but that’s not a problem anymore.  Haltering is usually fine over his ears if you stand next to him and go slow.  When blanketing, he doesn’t bat an eye anymore.  So you can see he’s come far in accepting things that once terrified him. 
" Sweet Boy "
We believe every horse can be helped if only given the proper time and encouragement by building small successful links in the chain to their healing.  By not rushing or expecting too much of him, I think Donnie will one day be a happy, well-adjusted horse.  Donnie is too sweet and loving to give up on.  And he’s got loads of talent and some of the most beautiful gaits we’ve ever seen, so he’d be a fun horse to bring along. It would be a failure on our part not to try and help him through his issues.  We’ve also decided that if he never becomes a riding horse that’s okay too; he’s a permanent part of the herd and, not only is he fun to play with, but we can always count on him for a nicker and a hug.

Until next time

Quote for Today
The horse through all its trials has preserved the sweetness of paradise in its blood. 
    - Johannes Jensen

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It's so nice of you to take the time to visit. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting on what I've written. Even though I sometimes don't have the time to reply to each comment, I do enjoy reading them.