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Forever Free Farm

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Hmmm, a Year Later and a new Update.. sort of!

Life at the barn has quieted down some.  I have no students at this time, which is ok tho.  The heat is just too oppressive to work or ride much anytime after 6:30am. 

 Tank is doing better in Exile (dry lot) this summer, tho.  We installed three Freedom Feeder Hay nets around her paddock to keep her slowly munching hay and moving around.  Since changing the way and frequency of how I trim her feet, I have seen a dramatic change in them and she's 100% sound on all surfaces!

Penny and I completed a long trail ride at Foxhall Sporting Club on June 11.  It was to benefit GA Equestrian Rescue League and the GA Department of Ag.  It was very well attended!  The riding was just lovely and we had a good tho it was!


Posted by forever-free-farm at 12:03 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 24 April 2009

Trailer Loading 101 ..or.. Hey, if this dumb broad can do it, so can you.
Mood:  bright
With our new trailer just waiting for me, I was (of course) eager to trailer out somewhere for a ride....never counting on the possibility that Penny wouldn't load. She'd been trailered for hours/days before I bought her 5 years ago, so figured she'd be fine with it. Nope. She was not having any of it. Two hooves on the ramp and that's where she'd stop and stay. Not ugly, not pissy or fighting. Just NOT going in, thank you very much. Innocent

So I went in search of various and sundry methods of teaching to load with patience and gentleness. Read about/watched on YouTube the John Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Monty Roberts methods of course, but also looked to just your average folks and what they do. I wanted to see the methods that worked for different personality types.

Quickly found that if you have a "moving" horse who's truly afraid of the trailer, then keep those feet moving. My mare is not a "moving" horse, so I chucked that method out. She's a Thinker, as are most drafties.

So I went to Chronicle of the Horse Forums, as well as venturing over to's Training forum to see what other folks do. After reading one particular post, a light bulb went off and something just told me THAT WAY would work. So I went to the barn last night with My Plan firmly in place.

A fellow border has a Clinton Anderson stick that I borrowed since I knew it was much stiffer than my dressage whip. I ran my lunge line around the escape door hinge and down the side of the trailer. Instead of just hooking it to her halter, though, I went over her head for poll pressure. She's used to this from lunging with my beginner students on her.

With two front hooves on the ramp, I put just enough tension on the lunge line to be annoying and started firmly tapping behind her hip. It took about 45 minutes, tiny hoof step by tiny hoof step, for her to load the first time.

Every single time I saw even the slightest hint of forward motion (up to and including dropping her head to find the Herball Treat I strategically put on the floor 1/2 way in ), I released the line and stopped tapping---praised her voraciously--then asked again for another inch of forward motion. Any backing up was met with a LOUD Giiiiit Up! Forward was the only direction that gave her release and praise. I had no real desire to get her in the trailer actually. It was just a lesson on FORWARD. The loading was the icing on the cake!

I let her stand a while, happily eating the Peep and Herball treats I left in the manger as a reward. I didn't do up the butt bar. Once she started turning her head around to see where I was, I tugged on her tail and asked her to Back. She slowly backed off and looked right to me for leading. With lotsa scritches and GOOD MARES!, I put her in her stall for her dinner (especially since a storm was coming in). Once she and the rain were done, I repeated the whole exercise.

2nd Loading took 25 seconds.

3rd Loading took 10 seconds....and this time I left her in and did up the butt bar.

Because I was calm, UBER patient and not demanding, she never got angry or freaky about any of it. That stick and the line were just enough annoyance that it got into her brain: "HMMMM, standing outside = annoying tapping on my butt and tension on my head. Going In the Box = no tapping or tension AND Peeps! This it be a good thing."

Tonight I will do it alllll over again. Just as if she's never loaded before ever. However, tonight I'll be loading her to the right of the trailer divider, since she will have to be on the right when I haul both her and my full Percheron (who, by the way, walks on/off like it's no big deal....gotta loff it ).

Saturday I'll do it all again but will take her for a short ride to a friend's house. Unload her, let her graze and then reload again to go home.

The goal: Self Loading - We'll get there!

Needless to say, I was on Cloud 9 all night and went to sleep with a GIANT grin on my face.

Posted by forever-free-farm at 1:10 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink

The Trailer Is Here!
Mood:  celebratory

It was a long trip and my nerves are shot! But we're home and this trailer is awesome.

Here she is!

Tom, the OWNER of EquiSpirit (how cool is that?), met us at 9am Saturday morning to go over everything with us, making sure we knew the procedures and pointing out all the amazing features built into our EquiBreeze. It truly is the best of both worlds: all the safety and attention to detail as found in the EquiSpirit but in an open-stock combo model that makes it affordable to us "average" folk.

David drove it 1/2 way home from North Carolina....safely navigating the VERY SCARY section of I-20 into and out of Augusta where they took us down to two very narrow lanes. I kept sucking in my breath as if it would suck in the sides of the trailer.

I took over after fueling up and completed the trip...repeating our new Mantra: Wider is Better! (Alas, David learned the hard way and our new trailer is now "broken" in bad damage...just a few dings on the left side and a fender that is less than perfect. Trust me, he felt HORRIBLE. But I reassured him that a) it's a "thing" not a person; b) I still love him; and c) perhaps the Lord was protecting us from a worse situation down the road and we needed that hour to avoid it.) The rest of our trip was blissfully uneventful, although my neck and shoulders were one giant knot of tension.

Now that it's home, I need to practice. One of our co-borders is a police officer who does driver training, so he will be working with us in an empty parking lot, full of cones, so we can learn how to back that baby up and park her properly. We're both good with "forward"...."back" needs work.

Posted by forever-free-farm at 1:07 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 24 April 2009 1:10 PM EDT

Big Purchase!
Mood:  happy

Saturday, 31 January 2009
A quick bit of news update:  We're getting a horse trailer!  While we always wanted an EquiSpirit, we simply could not afford it. 
Late last week, though, I was contacted by an EquiSpirit rep, telling me about their new model, The EquiBreeze.

They have only bumper pull models for pictures, but mine will be a gooseneck.  See sample photos here:
Once the deposit is received, they will beginning manufacturing it--with delivery expected in four to six weeks.

Posted by forever-free-farm at 1:06 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Ok, I'll try this BLOG thing

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Figured since the site has been getting more traffic, I'd start up a blog.  Now don't go expecting updates every week.  I'll be lucky to do once a month! Smile

Lesson/Riding Student Update - Unfortunately, due to the inherent nastiness associated with winter, my two star students, Kathy & Ashley (mom & daughter) haven't been able to ride much lately.  Seems we're cursed to get rained on every Saturday!    Until then, though, they were both progressing nicely--gaining muscle strength and improving their balance.  Ashley is up to posting at the trot!

After January 31st, I will have two more students:  both adult "Re-Riders" who were seeking the low-key, drama-free, relaxed environment I offer, as well as a good opportunity to gain back their riding skills, improve their knowledge base and regain confidence. 

The Horses:  Both mares are quite healthy!  Since August of 2008, I have taken over trimming their hooves myself.  I still have my farrier/trimmer, D.J. Williams, come out every now and then to check  my work, but I'm gaining confidence with each trim.  Best of all, Tank's hooves have seen a dramatic change, taking on a more round shape in the front and (best of all) has not abscessed in six months!

Ok...enough for now!

Posted by forever-free-farm at 1:05 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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