Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bay Girl vs. Blanket, Round II

One of my January goals for Bay Girl is to get her a little more accustomed to wearing her blanket. Or well, perhaps not wearing it.... wearing it isn't the problem. It's getting it on and off that she minds so much!

Honestly, by "minds so much," I mean that the poor girl has only ever had a blanket put on and taken off once in her life that I know of... when I did it last. Getting it on went well, and getting it off went, well.....
Regardless of that, the weather at some point had to turn, and I therefore made it a priority to start trying to get Bay Girl's blanket on and off regularly. Unfortunately with the trip to Canada, long hours at work, and an excess of study going on at my house, I hadn't been able to work on this goal up until now. And once again, "now" meant exactly that... she needed the blanket on for tonight's extra chilly temperatures. Definitely must make this a bigger priority in life so that we can avoid more "nows" in the future.

The mares were all clumped together in Bay Girl's old pen today, due to the fact that the pastures are still a bit soggy and muddy from our last dump of rain, and I picked out some of the muddy mashed-in poo out there today (ew). The other three girls didn't even bother to give me the time of day while I was out there working, but Bay Girl stood and watched intently the entire time, trying her best to perform the Mare Mind Meld on me and get me to yield copious amounts of tasty goodies that perhaps she was certain I would have:

"Lady you bring me foods?"

Alas for her, I had no tasty goodies to give. Food fail.

Following this, my boss mentioned that the weather was going to turn shortly thereafter, temperatures sinking into the 20's for the evening (not a common occurrance in TX, even in the winter). Would I please blanket all the horses before I leave for the day, says she? Perfect opportunity to work on blanketing Bay Girl, says I!

It went very well for the second time, partly due to the fact that I had three other completely quiet mares also being blanketed in there with her. She got to watch me blanket all three of the others, and wasn't concerned by me throwing blankets up in the air as I tossed them over each mare. After watching countless horses go in and out of our AquaTread, and having trained a dozen or two new ones to get into it, I fully believe that horses to some extent really are visual learners. Newbies come to the pool barn, get parked in a designated set of crossties facing the pool, and then watch two or three "role model" horses who are already experienced get into the pool and work out. When it comes time for them to get in, they are FAR easier to work with if they have seen a few quiet ones go ahead of them and come out intact. If they can't get the hang of how to properly enter the pool by their second time (i.e. instead of walking in they continue leaping, sliding, or otherwise resisting for an extended period of time), we park them in the set of crossties right in front of the entrance to the pool, where they get a front row seat to horses walking calmly in. I have yet to see a lightbulb not go off for these horses, and every one of them has gone on to quietly walk on as well. In reference to Bay Girl, she was allowed to watch how routine blanketing was for the other mares in her herd, and therefore when it came time to put hers on, she was ready and willing to give it a shot.

She was still nervous, don't get me wrong - some eyeball rolling, general tension, and some squiggling when the wind moved her leg straps mid-blanketing - but I had her positioned between her friends, and she bounced back and forth off of two of them, ending up standing quietly again while she waited for my next move. I was able to put on leg straps from both sides this time instead of just the on left - hooray desensitization, you work! - and she stood quietly for a picture of the finished product:

Thankfully, the owner of the foal came and brought the other mare's old turnout blanket for her, so she no longer had to wear the ugly and ill-fitting green canvas one from before.

Like I said before, it will be a priority from now on to keep putting that blanket on and off whenever I have the opportunity. The more I can sack her out to as much stimuli as possible, the better her life will be down the road.

Oh, and one picture of Sophie giving the ultimate goober face:

That is SO a Metro look. He ALWAYS gave me the hurp face!



  1. Two beautiful and wonderful mares. Good luck with them! :)

  2. Awww I can't believe how much Sophie takes after her sire. :)

    Way to go with Bay Girl (name yet?)! She's doing to well and she's adorable in her blanket. :)