I’ve been incredibly busy lately! Work has picked up and I’ve been doing lots of overtime (good for the wallet…which is good for the horsey). Add that with my hair-brained idea of participating in National Novel Writing Month for the first time and shorter hours of daylight, and I have very little time to work with Shiloh. Lots of things are on hold for a few weeks, including my Pilates routines that I’ve come to love. Sad day. I’ve been trying to ride at least twice a week, but even this is a challenge to work in, when most of my time spent at the barn involves chores and daily care activities. And one last sheath cleaning before it got too cold.
But we find other ways to get in some good time together. Everyday while Shiloh eats his breakfast, I pick a horrifying number of prickly burrs out of his mane and tail. I groom the living daylights out of him, love on him, and promise that we will get back to work soon. He assures me that he doesn’t mind a vacation.
But I digress. As I may have mentioned before, I like to work on tricks with Shiloh on a regular basis as a way to strengthen our bond and let him feel like he’s a smartypants. The tricks are not for kicks and giggles, even though some of them are kind of cute. My intentions are only to reinforce good behavior and nurture a positive attitude toward learning new things. This summer I taught him to “Kiss Me” on my cheek when I cocked my head to the side and tipped up my chin. He would get a little piece of carrot when he touched the right spot on my cheek with his lips.
I don’t know if Shiloh is feeling lonely or a tad unloved, but his kissing habits have recently taken on a frightening turn! It was funny at first, but now he wants to do it all the time. He’s fairly gently and has never offered to bite or ram me with his head, but it’s a terrible, embarrassing, and potentially dangerous behavior and it must stop! Plus, it’s practically impossible to get a good picture of him when he’s always trying to plant a big wet one on my cheek. Now, if he tries to lean in for a smooch that I didn’t ask for, he gets a little smack on the neck and a firm NO. Seriously. If you guys don’t teach your horses about proper consent, who will?
In other news, I discovered the beauty and simplicity of the “head down” command. I feel so stupid I haven’t done this sooner. My horse is 3/4 giraffe and he often reminds me of this fact. Difficult tasks used to include: cutting the bridle path, bridling, braiding, and washing his face. I finally got fed up with him making me stand on tip toes to pick out his burrs, so I placed my hand on his poll and waited (just resting the hand, not using pressure) until he bobbed his head down, then I released. I did this about 10 times until he started to get it, though he made it quite obvious he didn’t appreciate my unreasonable wishes. I am in the process of working on a verbal cue for the command. Who knows, maybe I can get him to lower his head when I’m on board?
I can dream, right?