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Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas and Keeping Your Head Down!

Merry Christmas everyone!!! Hope you've had as lovely a Christmas as we have!

Totally unrelated but as I was bringing the horses in for the night on Friday we had a really rough rain storm with gale force winds. The horses were all very spooked and it occurred to me, not for the first time, how much easier it would make life if all horses were taught about head lowering.

I had to bring in a couple of other people's horses who had grown at least two hands, wild eyed and heads in the air as they pranced about, snorting.

Jack, who was at least as spooked as any of the others, let me put his head collar on and then deliberately dropped his nose to the ground and kept it there while I haltered his field mate. He has learned, through a lot of repetition, that he can calm himself down and control his own adrenalin levels by keeping his head down. By the time I had put his friend's head collar on and opened the gate he was as cool as a cucumber and walked alongside me in a relaxed and sensible manner.

I was really proud of him, especially considering that the thing he really couldn't cope with in the past was high winds, as he relies on his hearing even more than most horses, with his eyesight being limited.

I don't believe that most horses can enjoy feeling frightened and jumpy, anymore than most of us do, and in my experience most horses will voluntarily use head lowering to calm themselves down, at least in the presence of a human friend whose judgement they trust, once they've been taught the value of the exercise.

Head lowering has to be the single most useful things I have ever taught Jack and it's now one of the first things I teach any horse I work with, especially young or nervous horses. The difference it can make in the long term to the horse's temperament and attitude, and it's use on command, as a rapid 'calm down' cue, is unique and invaluable.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Latest Arrivals.

We have 3 new arrivals here. I need to keep the agricultural side of the business going to keep the council happy and, as we're no longer breeding cattle, I thought I'd go back to what I love best and rear some calves again. It's also a good excuse for buying them!!!

I've just sold my calf from last year, which has paid for the haylage for all our animals for this winter, so my plan is to do the same next year with these 3.

It's been a couple of decades since I last did any calf rearing but it's every bit as rewarding as I remember - they are so cute and bouncy, and hungry!!! The speed with which they can empty a 2 litre bottle has to be seen to be believed! I am very lucky in having a very enthusiastic helper who gets out of bed every morning without any prompting to help feed them, which is a minor miracle in itself!!!!

Here are Hetty, Monique and Violet (Mike named them after characters in his last play, The Kitchen). They are 5 week old Aberdeen Angus x Friesian heifer calves.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Very Exciting News!!!

I've waited a whole lifetime for this if it happens!!!

I can't tell you what it is yet but watch this space, probably on Sunday!!!!

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!