Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hobble Training Arabee

For Christmas I had received a gift of a set of hobbles. It was one of the things on my list, and I was very happy to get them.

Living on a 100++ year old farm like we do, you really never know for sure where there might be old fence wire half buried underground, or where a stray strand of barbed cattle wire may have long ago been knocked off the fence by a fallen tree, then left to be slowly buried by the tree as it decomposed. You never know. I mean, I know today we do the best we can to keep things neat and put up, but every now and then we find old buried junk, and what's to say there wouldn't be wire buried somewhere, as well?

So, I have been wanting to hobble-train Arabee, so that if she ever does find herself entangled in something, she will know not to fight it, just relax and wait for help. I would hate to have ignored this relatively easy task and have it haunt me later. It was also VERY WINDY today, and I am also pretty sore and tired from the ride we did yesterday, so I decided to take the day off from riding and work on the hobbles.

For several weeks now I have been working with her in her stall with a thick cotton lead rope around one leg at time, pulling on it, moving it, picking it up; basically teaching her it was okay to have that feeling on her legs. Eventually I wrapped the rope around one leg, then loosely around the other, "hobbling" her with the rope, but it would have easily come undone if she panicked. No big deal.

Today I took her out where I normally groom and tack up, in a familiar place, and tested her first with the cotton rope, then when she was ho-hum (right away, basically) with that, I strapped the hobbles on.

I put them on the cannon bone, just above her fetlock. I've seen them put there, and on the pastern, but this spot seems sturdier, plus less likely to get muddy, so I strapped them there. I left her halter and lead rope on, and since she basically stands like a statue when I'm grooming her anyway (she ground ties VERY well) she didn't test the hobbles.

So I decided to test her. I gave her a dose of wormer (and Jack too, March 1st), which she typically doesn't enjoy, but tolerates after practicing her best giraffe impression, and dancing a bit. This time, she DIDN'T move a bit. Yeah!

Then I unbuckled one of the hobbles, and led her to the grass, and rebuckled them. You can see a picture here:
She didn't bother the hobbles much, just stretched her neck to get as much as possible. So I hopped the fence and wormed Jack (he hates it too, but being so old he doesn't put up a big fuss, especially if I keep him from seeing it!) which he backed up after I gave it to him and moved out of Arabee's sight. This she didn't like, and came bounding about. I said, Whoa! and she stopped, and didn't move her feet a bit after that, but kept grazing.

So I tested her some more. I found a piece of plastic, about 6"x12" - noisy enough to be startling, small enough to not be overwhelming. I sacked her out with this, which she picked up her feet, but didn't move beyond the constraint of the hobbles.

I will consider this a success. She needs more practice, but I think a great start. I also want to do this same training with the hobbles on her rear legs, but we'll keep the hobble sessions short and sweet.

I pray she never, ever has a run in with wire here or anywhere else, but if she does, I hope the hobble training will prevent a big wreck.


Endurance Granny said...

Oh! Now here is something you can teach me Nicole. That will be an excellent deterrent to keep her in the electric pen with NO WORRIES. I'm gonna have to put that on my to do list. Somehow I don't think Phebes will be as willing and ho-hum about it.

You can't be stiff and sore...this old lady did another ten today, and if the sun is shining I'd like to hit it again tomorrow as I have a three day work schedule ahead and my Mom on Friday. Have to really cram it in on the weekend now.

I wrote to David today as we are trying to work out where we will park for the ride next weekend. Also I asked about membership at the Pekin Saddle Club which would give me year round camping access to the trails. Membership isn't too terribly expensive, but like Christine was mentioning money is very tight right now. So I'll have to ponder on if I really "need" it, or if I can park at the day parking and get what I need out of that for free.

OurCrazyFarm said...

What a glorious sight to see green grass! We just got a weekend of a winter snow storm and below zero temps again up here in Wisconsin. I can't wait for green grass and to be able to take the horses out. We are dreaming of all the rides we can take. It sounds like you and Arabee are doing great!

Nicole said...

E.G. - She probably won't be. Arabee wouldn't have been 8 years ago, either! But, every little new thing you do with her will get her closer to being ho-hum about more stuff!

I WAS sore! A little, it really wasn't enough to keep me out of the saddle, but I just wasn't brave enough to get out there the way the wind was howling through the trees! If it keeps up windy like this I just may have to join you this weekend. Windy or not, though - I WILL ride tonight, goal is a good hour and a half +. I thinking of training at home and only haul out 3/14 and 3/28, but being as she did so well w/ Phebe's company saturday I may have to change my plans.

I'd like to practice camping the weekend of 3/28 at the horseman's campground, even though it might not be in the exact right spot for the trails we want, I'm hoping it would be close enough? With the camping too you gotta look at the cost of fuel for hauling down there more often - if you camp you get a whole weekend of conditioning for one trip! It may help justify the camping spot.