Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New tarp, old habits

Maybe this is why the blanket wasn't an issue with the boys?

What are your wearing?
It's been a while - at least a year - since I did much with a tarp.  I used one a lot when Sunny was younger, mostly spread out on the ground for him to walk across, but he wore it a few times, as well.  In fact, it was something I worked on with all of the mares and Thunder, too. 

But I stopped when the game got to be so old hat they whickered at the sight of the tarp coming out.  My tarp was getting kind of brittle with age and I started to worry about one of them putting a hole in it, catching a hoof, and panicking.  Not exactly the lesson I was looking for! 

Yesterday I was wandering through Menards in search of something I'd forgotten to write on my list - and still can't remember - when I passed the wall of tarps.  For under $3.00, I could have a brand new 6'x8' tarp.  Cool.  (This is why Menards is such a dangerous place to send men, isn't it?)

Sunny models while Thunder waits his turn
I spread my new purchase out on the ground in the lot, weighted the corners with rocks, and called the boys.  Sunny remembered immediately - one sniff to verify, and he walked right across and stopped four square in front of me, ears pricked waiting expectantly to hear the click that meant he'd get paid.  Good boy!

Thunder took a minute or so to snuffle around the edges and test the solidity underneath by pawing, but it wasn't long before he was walking back and forth with no hesitation, either.

I really had planned on that taking more than 5 minutes - including set-up time. 

Time for stage 2 - I rolled the rocks off the edges, gathered up the tarp and folded it in half.  Sunny immediately sidled around so that his left side was facing me.  Too funny!  He knew exactly what was coming.  I let the tarp flop over his back - feet stayed still.  Click.  I flipped it on and dragged it off from both sides a couple of times, while Thunder looked on. 

Then it was his turn.  As with the ground stage, I could tell he was a bit more anxious.  He wasn't worried enough to back away, but he was concerned when I lifted it toward his back, so at first I just rested the semi-folded tarp against his shoulder.  Feet stayed still - click, corn.  Hmmm.... this wasn't so scary after all.
So stylish
As you can see, neither of them was wearing a halter, although I did have one handy just in case one or the other got too obnoxious and pushy.  My original intent had been to work with one at a time like I did with the blanket the other day, but since they were paying attention and being respectful without fussing at each other, I didn't bother. 

I like working with them loose, because if they want to shy or move away, they can without feeling trapped.  And both of them did scoot out from under a time or two. They just don't get clicked.  And they come right back.  I just switch to the other horse, and let the one that moved watch the other one get rewarded for doing it right.

I wasn't making any effort to keep the tarp quiet, or really to keep it from lifting and blowing in the breeze when I pulled it off.  I let it loft when I tossed it over them, and made sure that the loose ends flopped around their legs, as well.  Although as you can see from the pictures, I did stay close enough to hold it in case a big gust came through - my goal definitely wasn't to scare them silly.

When both horses would stand quietly with the tarp unfolded completely across them up to their ears and back to their tails, and I could shake it out without their eyes getting big, I called it a day.  Which took probably half an hour and a pocket full of corn dispensed 5-10 kernels at a time.  After that I just hung out for a while, scritching itchy spots and enjoying that lovely horse smell.

The weatherman says rain/snow mix today.... I guess fall is slowly creeping toward winter.  How I hate to see it go!


Tammy said...

We got our first dusting of snow down below you today. Fortunately, I was way down below in Austin and 85 degree weather and by the time I got back to good ol' Nebraska, the snow had melted.

Great pics!

SunnySD said...

You know, we ended up having sunshine, high clouds and lots of blustery wind to go with some 40' temps - no idea where the report I tuned into was coming from, but it sure wasn't correct for here. Sorry to hear there was snow down your way, though. Brrr!