Re-educating your grazing pet
Re-educating your grazing pet
We’ve all owned that horse – the one that sat in the field doing nothing but swatting flies, eating and turning oxygen into carbon dioxide for a year or more. In fact, it might be a really good horse; IF you knew where to start the processing and reworking process.
It’s actually not too complicated. Start by catching the horse. Sometimes, if the horse has been sitting in the pasture for a long time, he tends to avoid; enough that catching him is a chore. Take food or his favorite treats and try the old tricks of catching him with bribes. If that doesn’t work, see if you can lead his friend out to pasture and have him follow you into a small enough pen (round pen, barn, shed or stall) where you can trap him, then catch and stop him easy. If it has not been serviced for a while (a year or more), go through a refresher course on ground behaviour, tying and grooming. Treat him as if you expect nothing less than the utmost respect, but at the same time treat him gently; don’t jump around like you expect him to freak out and run around like crazy, but make sure you watch his body language and see how he reacts when he’s handled again.
Most horses, once trained, remember what they were taught. They won’t magically forget it one day, but they still need a refresher course. Once you’ve tried some basic manners, try throwing it around a bit and then call it quits for the day. The next time you work with it, do the same as the first time and maybe throw it a little longer this time. Add little by little to your training segments, making each session a little longer so you don’t overwhelm him by throwing everything at him at once. Another note to remember: if possible, when you work out again, try to work out daily, but make sure you still give him a full day off during the week. Even if you don’t have time for a full session every day, take him out of the pasture and groom him and take him out for a little walk if nothing else.
At this point, even spending time with him is as important as working with him. If he was particularly skittish or nervous when you first started working with him and still seems on edge after the first week, give him another week or two to ground and handle until he gets back into the mindset of working and doesn’t suspect anything you’re jumping back on it. Don’t just throw the saddle on his back on the second day out in the field if he’s been jittery and jittery. This is a surefire way to hurt yourself (or him) and scare him enough to make your job more difficult. If he’s been particularly relaxed about the whole thing, after a week, feel free to saddle him up and try a few laps around the arena, field or round pen and see how he feels about being ridden again.
Some horses don’t care, while others think it’s time to pursue that career as a rodeo horse! Keep calm and upgrade your riding schedule. During the first week of riding, ride it one day and then the next; just do some tossing and general handling. The second week, do a light ride every day and then go from there, making him work a little harder and introducing something new each week at work.
Make sure to give him a day off every week, and even if you don’t have time to ride or pounce that day, just give him a quick brush and scratch his favorite itchy spots for him!
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