Today I went for a walk up the road with my two horses. Ibis is a 27 yr old Thoroughbred gelding that has been with me since he was 5 years old. Zoey is a Paint Mare, about 16 years old. Her black painted areas are in heart shapes! She is so cute!
It was a blustery day with the wind gusting this way and that and the air was nipping. We were all a little bit excited as we had not been out for a walk in a month or so.
When Zoey popped her head up to look at the leaves blowing or something in the distance, I decided to begin asking them to use the Clicker Training to help them refocus on me. Each time I asked them to do something their heads came down a bit and their breathing began to slow. Within 15 minutes they became very relaxed. I asked for combinations of half walks and lengthening their strides to help them soften, engage their backs more fully and elasticizing them. I love using this kind of engagement for increasing flexibility in mind and body. We practiced turning in a small radius with the horses in tandem. This was really cool as they got the gist of what I was asking.
When we were a half mile down the road, our neighboring horses picked up and ran across their field to greet us. Ibis and Zoey love to walk down here to see the other horses. Even though they do not greet directly over the fence, they are clearly interested in seeing what the neighbors were up to today. I we hung out for awhile and then we continued on our way. I was relieved when the wind began to slow down and we could feel the warmth of the sun. The horses and I calmed down a few more notches once the wind settled down. I am always amazed at just how much the wind effects the horses energy levels! They seem to want to race around and keep up with the speed and shifting directions of the wind.
When we returned home, I took off their halters and we went into the labyrinth. A set of 8 poles set up in a pattern developed by Linda Tellington-Jones as part of the Confidence Course. Today we put together multiple skills. Without their halters, free to do whatever they pleased on their own, they chose to join me and walked and turned in tandem and go around the labyrinth with all of its tight turns. I was impressed and over the top excited at our growing partnership together!