Monday, January 5, 2009

January-wandering thoughts on a winter day

January always seems to be the longest month of the year to me. Even here in Southern Ohio, January is cold, dreary, gray and my mood is always, well, pretty much along those lines too.

We had a cold snap and a decent snow the first couple of weeks of December. We've been getting a reprieve the past couple of weeks, for which I am thankful. But, just like clockwork, the cold, snow and bad weather will return, by my estimation, around the middle of January. That's our usual time for the really snow and ice stuff.

I noticed my hay supply is about half now. I get kind of edgy when my hay supply gets low. When it comes down to it, I probably feed too much hay to my two geldings, but I figure since they can't graze, due to no grass, they need the hay. Well, now since my hay supply seems to be visibly less than I like at this time of year, I have returned to feeding them alfalfa-timothy hay cubes in their afternoon feed, softened with warm water.

Do we baby our horses too much? Over at Mugwump Chronicles she had a really interesting post about how our relationship with our horses has changed over the past few decades. She made some excellent points. I find myself looking at horses much the way she describes.

I'm sure my grandpa, one of those "old style" horse trainers, would probably think I'm soft on my guys. Grandpa was not of the Natural Horsemanship school of thought, considering he did his training back in the early 1920's in Northern Ohio. I never got the opportunity to talk to Grandpa about his horse training days and possibly, I wouldn't agree with his techniques. The stories I get are from my mom and most of those stories are second hand. By the time Mom came along, in 1934, Grandpa had given up the horse training to work at a factory and support his family. However, my dad told me he once ran into a fella who'd actually heard of my grandpa's horse training days and told my dad Ollie was a pretty good horse trainer, trained some good harness horses. Well, I guess I'll never know exactly. One thing I'm sure of, he was probably not gentle in his gentling or his training. They just weren't like that back in those days.

For the most part, I think we do things better nowadays and I, for one, am glad we are more knowledgeable of horse behavior, or at least have the resources to learn. I'm appreciative that I can look up information, read about different techniques and decide for myself what works for me and my horses. Though, I also realize, learning from an experienced horseman/woman would be ideal, sometimes it's just not in the cards.

When I got into my horses, going on 5 years now, I started out being enthralled with Clinton Anderson's work. Later, I observed various other trainers and clinicians. At one point, became very confused with all the different techniques. Finally figured out, horse training, at the consumer level, is like everything else, you find what's right for you. Last summer I decided to take the different techniques and come up with what works for me and my guys.

January will roll on slowly, I'm sure, so it's time to slow down, read some good fiction books, think a little about what I want from my horses this coming season, and just relax. That's how I should take January.................but we all know best laid plans....

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