Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Fun Challenges

Trapped inside

If you obsessively stalk my blog, it's possible that you remember the time Courage had a bad day, all because he was completely incapable of stepping over an obstacle that was 12 inches high. Never mind that he doesn't bat an eye when he jumps twice that height--it is completely impossible to be led over a tiny obstacle.

I kept meaning to work on that at home, but it's so ridiculously stupid that I just put it off. I mean, his ground manners are great. I can lead him with just body language and he has no problems going forward. I kept meaning to lunge him over some little stuff and gradually work up to leading him over it (yeah, how backwards is that?), but I just didn't make the time.

And then I wanted to clip him. The BO warned me that closing the roll-down front door of the barn can be pretty spooky for horses already inside the barn, so I closed it before I got him out of the field and then just led him in through a stall.

His cute little face was right by my shoulder as I walked into the stall and then all of a sudden, it wasn't.

I'm standing in the stall. He's still out in the run. There is a HUGE AND TERRIFYING OBSTACLE between us.

Yes, he had to step over a 6" tall board to get into the stall.

Now, we can argue that there is a light/dark change* and it's a new environment and WHATVER, but the fact is that he lives two stalls down in the EXACT SAME BARN. Yeah, his stall is just a step up without a little board to step over, but I'm not buying it.

Of course, I'm dealing with a very athletic and expressive horse. I can't ask the lovely couple taking care of their 26 year old retiree to come over and kick my horse in the rear because if he were to express himself, I wouldn't want them getting hurt. The BO is in the house and very, very sick, so I really don't want to call her either.

It's just me and C-rage. Not going in a stall.

Great. I cannot be both behind him for encouragement and in front of him for guidance. I do know that he would do almost anything for a cookie. I grab a whole hoodie pocket full of cookies and try bribery. I think all four of his feet got within about 12 inches of each other and his whole neck was stretched into the stall, but he didn't care even try to step in.

I tried clucking and pulling. I tried giving him time. I made it very clear that I wanted him in with me. I opened the front stall door so it wasn't claustrophobic. I established that he can stretch his neck out a very long way and that he was trying very hard, but he just. wouldn't. do. it.

Finally, I leaned out of the stall, picked up his left front leg, and set it inside the stall with me. Then I backed up and held out a cookie.

The impossible horse trap
He looked around and walked right in. I praised him, gave him pats and scratches, stuffed him full of cookies, and walked in to the barn aisle.

The little blazed face was suspiciously missing.

Yep. There was another board to step over.

This time, I got him over in about a minute. He was very suspicious of the hoof lifting technique, since the last time I did that, he some how ended up levitating into a magical horse trap.

That said, he really, really wanted the cookies.

He had to think about it, but he finally made the step into the aisle.

Of course, it remains to be seen if he would have gone in at all if he knew that I was about to clip stars on his butt. ;-)

*Also there was no light/dark change when he first pulled this stunt. We were outside on a sunny day with safe footing.


  1. Not sure if it would have been possible given your positioning, but when Fiction doesn't want to move forward, I tap him behind his front leg (on any side)/below his shoulder with my lead rope and/or hand or a whip and it encourages him to move forward. I've also had to use the foot technique though before with a horse that wouldn't load on a trailer!

  2. Strange, but very "Thoroughbredy." I say that because there was a time...though not now...when the two top rails of the fence could be down and my to TB's would not step over to escape and get out on to the lawn. I had another TB that exactly the same. I have absolutely no idea why this was. The fence was a barrier not to be crossed.

    Now that I have Chance here...warmblood...crossing the fence is no object. He's taught both TB's that it is both possible and OK. (Well, not OK to me, but to the equine brain, it is.)

    It is a really strange behavior and I have no explanation. If you work a bit with Courage, I am sure you can overcome it. He just needs some practice.

  3. LOL. Courage cracks me up. Sometimes I really want to know what they are thinking!

  4. Riley does this thing out out hunter paces where he will literally stop his whole body in front of something (if I'm not asking him to jump it) and lean over until shear momentum carries his legs over. it's very silly, but I suppose I prefer it to leaping.

  5. Hi I read your blog all the time and don't normally comment but this sooo like my horse i couldn't help it, he is 20 now and retired and I'v had him since he was three, I evented him advanced but he WILL NOT step over stuff lower than his knees! he has biffed me off countless times because I have been riding across a paddock and come to a tiny log or pole and expected him to go over without thinking! dithes and patches of dirt are the same, he will jump a huge horse eating meter deep ditch with a creek in the bottom, but an intro ditch 2" deep ful of grass is an absolute no go! oer the years we have had many theories like eye sight issues etc (all have been checked no probs) or that he is insulted that I would ask him to somthing that is so beneath him, but in the end I think its just him, and it does come in handy, to keep him confined you just have to lay some baling twine around him in a circle and he wont step out of it!

  6. Penny, I am laughing at your baling twine "enclosure!" That's pretty amazing.

    This post has me thinking about the countless times I have led horses over little "step-over" boards, or up a step into a barn or stall, or what have you. I haven't had one balk but I can it happening, and it would indeed be very frustrating! I am glad your "lift a foot" technique was successful and hopefully Mr. C will get the message that he won't croak if he picks up his feet.

    We wanna see the stars on his butt, please!

    1. Never mind about "seeing stars" - obviously I had missed your previous post with photos of his cute clip job. :-)

  7. I am reminded of a certain mare who had similar irrational problems....
    And the resolution:

  8. LOL!!! I remember a horse doing the exact same thing to me but I don't remember what horse or the circumstances. :) I'm glad you got him over. I use the lifting the hoof method too hehe. Silly Courage!

  9. OMG coffee nearly out the nose! Love the pictures!

  10. This is so funny! Horses can be so silly sometimes. I guess we can all have our little hang ups. I suppose it really isn't any sillier than being terrified of little spiders and bugs, though, lol.

  11. Haha so funny!! And he really does have the perfect blaze...


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