Below: The horses are all turned out in fields across the 31 acres, and the horses in the back field sometimes have to give us rides in from the pasture. This time Tiny kindly gave Chesna's legs a rest and Cowboy and Skooter practiced ponying. The only rule for this cooperative effort is that everyone must have "happy ears" to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Below: Here the boys wait in the barn for their turn to ride. "Patience is a virtue," and we make sure that every horse at Nayborly has their fair share of patience. We like it when the horses stand quietly and comfortably in any given situation, as this translates over to riding. If they throw fits and fuss when we expect them to stand tied, we wait to untie them until they have calmed down. For horses who don't tie safely, we have a highline in the show jump field were they can move around and pull without hurting themselves or others. This is great for herdbound horses. As you can see, these three don't have any issues standing around, though occasionally the odd brush or saddle pad lying around the barn falls victim to their curiosity.
Below: We are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of Washington AND have access to so much great riding land. Our property is surrounded by timberland and wildlife preserve. Our neighbors are the best and let us romp around their Christmas tree patches and hay fields. We often see wildlife out on our rides, which is fun for us and great exposure for the horses. Animals we often encounter include elk, deer, bunnies, birds, coyotes, and occasionally skunk and bear. We joke that if we were hunters we'd have quite the trophy collection... By now lots of the "regulars" see us riding and don't even move. Both of the pictures below were snapped during the same ride via horseback (a type of photography we have mastered over the years. The hardest part is keeping pony ears out of the shot and making sure the camera makes it back in one piece. We have designated camera safe horses and also blacklisted those who aren't aloud to carry such precious cargo).
Below: Eric and Murray knocked over a dead tree in the Haflinger turnout, chopped it up, and built us a new cross-country jump! Pippin tests it out while Eric takes a break in the shade (kids, don't try this at home, at least not when your parents are looking).
Below: Daisy braves the boats and tractors on her way out on a trail ride. She is proving to be a great little riding horse and is now working on getting more miles under her belt while improving her repertoire of skills.
Below: Cowboy's also trying to get in plenty of ride time. The woodpile on our neighbor's property can be troublesome for a few horses, but Cowboy got up close and personal without much fuss. With clear direction this little horse is pretty much good as gold. He is working on things like giving to the bit, moving more crisply off aids, and leading the way past "scary things" out on the trail.
Below: Katie's goal is to relax when she's on trail rides and learn that she has to work through her issues. Here Katie looks magestic, though perhaps not exactly calm, on one of our favorite trail riding spots just around the corner from home.
Below: Kelsy and Huxley. A post about Hux's (and Chai's) first show of the season is coming soon!
Belle, the other Haflinger mare, continued to work on desensitization during week two. Both she and Daisy are now very easy to catch in the field, in fact they even walk over to us. We have been riding Belle walk/trot in the arena, but she is still startled easily by leg cues and needs to let down a lot more. The best thing for her at this point is repetition: we shake the flag at her until she doesn't react, we jump next to her until she doesn't move away, we get on and off until she is relaxed about it, we trot until she is willing to stand calmly... Slow and steady wins the race with this mare as we teach her to give to pressure better and accept more and more stimulus. She has definitely made overall progress, but nevertheless we know that she requires more work to truly be ok with everything we are teaching her. This may be attributed to the way she was raised, her natural temperament, but most likely is due to the fact that she spent her first twelve years living her own life without having to cope much with people and their strange requests.