What's better than spending three days with horses? Nothing that I can think of. Yesterday was day one of horse sitting. I mucked stalls and tossed hay. The water troughs needed cleaning and re-filling so my brother and I did that too. The dog that stays at Julie's house has become my shadow, needing to be with me at all times. He'll ignore my brother and follow me around. While there I was able to ride Cody for a hour. It was the perfect opportunity to work on my cantering. For thirty minutes I cantered laps around the yard and house. Finally I was able to maintain a canter for a longer amount of time and not have and moving or bouncing in the saddle with a loose rein,then a loose rein in one hand. Of course thirty minutes cantering my stomach was in intense pain so I got off after cooling him down then went to see what other chores I could find. 

There is a very round miniature donkey named Rascal boarding on Julie's land along with a rogue Mustang named Joe. Both geldings are pastured with Rose, with Joe being the new boss in town. Boy does he just love to assert his position to everyone. It seemed that everytime I looked up he was biting or running Rose off. On more than one occasion he would saunter over while I was petting Rose and bite her until she left. On two occasions he tried biting me for ignoring him and focusing on Rose. It's not the first time I've seen this displayed in a group of equines. My Uncle has a herd of broodmares and I had the misfortune of meeting his alpha mare. Her name is Angel but I felt Cruella was more fitting. Angel ran off all the mares and at one point stopped between me and young mare, chastised her, and glared at me. Growing frustrated I continued to ignore her and focus on the friendly young mare who she kept chastising. My Uncle explained that as the alpha,  I needed to go see Angel first before any of the other mares, and that by greeting the others first I was breaking rules and causing problems. At the same time the other mares knew better than approaching me before she did, which is why she was always chastising them. Her chastising would get worse the more I continued to ignore her and go to the others. That all made sense. However. The way I see it is,  I was forking his hay. I cleaned his stall, prepared his mash and supplied fresh water. He even got an apple. If I want to pet Rose or rub Rascal I will pet Rose and rub Rascal without his input or permission. He bit I slapped. Perhaps that was wrong perhaps that was right, but I'm not letting a horse tell me who I can and cannot pet. 

Meanwhile Jac has lost his dark winter coat and slimmed down quite a bit. He's a typical Thoroughbred losing more weight than he keeps. His temperament is still highstrung but he's relaxed a bit more and is more gentle than what he was before while at the stable. The farrier came out while I was there,  he was the same farrier I met the two times he came out. The farrier, Eric, had me hold Jac on the drive way and applied a fly spray to Jac before beginning. Jac stood quietly for a while, but then things went downhill. I held Jac's halter to keep him from swinging his head around. Jac tossed his head up and jerked the leg that the farrier had. We both said 'whoa'  and Jac stopped...... only to whip his head free and rear off the ground towards the truck. The farrier and I waited for Jac to chill before moving him away from the truck and setting back to work. Jac began to fidgit then bolted past the farrier, near knocking him over. The farrier chuckled when I told him I don't like Thoroughbred horses, then he leaned and said, "neither do I", I asked about two other Thoroughbred horses he does and he said they were horrible but are now much better. Jac apparently did better yesterday than when his feet were done last time. Yikes. Aside from that Jac did very good for me.  

My three day event went very smoothly. It rained a bit on Saturday but not too badly, so I worked on my balance while trotting quickly and turning. There was no bouncing or shifting on his back at all. I mucked the stalls and pastures everyday and changed the bedding too. 

That's all, hopefully there'll be more horse sitting to come. 

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on June 29, 2015 at 7:48pm

Recognizing that the horses have a pecking order is very good. 

Honoring this pecking order can make all your horse interactions less dangerous, for both yourself and the horses involved.  Horses in a group operate out in the pasture differently than the same horses in a stall, or being handled by a human under the human's control in the barn area. 

You essentially visited a friend's house and rudely ignored your friend's parents and loudly urged your friends to rebel against their parents' authority.

As you get more years of horse experience this will improve, as you learn to read the horses and how to move your body so that the horses will listen to and cooperate with you.  Interacting with horses in a pasture is just as much a skill as learning to groom and ride the horses correctly.

I was very lucky.  My first horse was an angel toward me when out in the pasture.  Not all horses are angels, just like with people.  Luckily I had learned enough before getting my second horse who was NOT an angel that I only got bruised. 

You are doing well.  You are a brave lady.  You have the makings of a horsewoman.  Please don't take my comments wrong.  Next time you horse sit make sure to find out beforehand who the boss horse is and concentrate on dealing with him/her first every time you enter the pasture AND every time you turn several horses out into a pasture (I learned this the hard way.)  Do it the "horse society" way and life will be a lot more peaceful and there usually are fewer veterinary or hospital bills.

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