Sunday, July 25, 2010

De-Spooking the trail ponies

Here is the de-spook course that Roxanne set up for the MHA.
It had noodles that would touch the horses from the front ( like a gate) and from the top ( like a curtain). It also had a water obstacle, and a long chute draped with clothing, a few large and small flags, a star of ground poles with hula hoops and cones and more flags, a tarp with brush, a baby stroller, a bicycle with glittery ribbons and on the fence some fluttery banners.
AND it was a windy day yesterday- we are on the Carquinez Straights, and the fog going in and out creates a big breeze.
So everything was just a fluttering, and a billowing, and making noise and flapping around.
The horses first walked through all the obstacles, and then they were ridden through them. Everyone did a great job.

This is Keith and Snap going through the bouncing curtain.

Keith and Snap watch as Bill and Brandon use the flag. Brandon was not phased by the flag billowing around, but Snap was a little worried.

KBG and Shirley going through the bouncing curtain. Shirley wanted to just stop, but KBG was able to get her through it several times. That is Denver and John in the 'chute' in the background.

John and Julie use a smaller flag to de-spook Joe and Denver. Joe was fine- Denver was a little spooky.
The great thing about working like this is the horses see the obstacles from near and far, on other horses and in a quiet and non stresses environment. All went well. Denver eventually accepted the flag.

Denver really didn't like the ground pole star with hula hoops and flags, but John remained calm and steady until Denver gave in and agreed that going through it was a lot easier than trying to avoid it.

Here is the water obstacle, a tarp buried in the sand with a tiny bit of water on top.
Shirley walked right through! Bill and Brandon worked the flag a little more to be sure he 'got' it.

The whole gang had a great time, and we agreed that a lot of people could use this method to start their horses on the paths to happy trail riding. Unfortunately the people that could use this the most think they need it the least.
I would have loved to bring Desi the Punk to this, but someone had to set up the obstacles and be the ground crew!
Maybe next time we'll get a chance to play too!