Thursday, February 14, 2013


A few nights ago after I finished riding Panama, I decided to pull out the ball and play a little, since we were all alone.  I had just pulled off his saddle and bridle to let him roll, so I left him at liberty and brought out the horse ball.

The red and black soccer ball-looking thing had disappeared, and for some reason the new ball (a softer green color) isn't as scary to Panama.  Still, he was a bit nervous when I brought it out, so when he pushed it a little with his nose I praised him like crazy.

Panama is very motivated by praise, so within minutes he'd learned to push the ball around with his nose.  Pretty soon we had a game going where I would kick the ball to him, and he would pass it back to me.  If he didn't pass it back to me right away, I could say "Push it," and he would, as he very quickly figured out that's what those words meant.  His aim isn't great yet, but he is very obviously playing with me.  We did this for a bit Sunday night (when I took the video), and then Tuesday night we played some more, except with me kicking the ball to him from farther away.  He still stayed in more or less the same place, though -- he hasn't yet figured out that he can move his feet to go to the ball, most likely because originally, when I was teaching him not to be afraid of it, I was asking him not to move his feet.

Here is a video from Sunday night.  Please forgive the poor cell phone video quality:

See how he puts his nose down in preparation to pass it back when the ball comes his way?  I think he was genuinely enjoying himself!

I need to introduce Rondo to the ball and see what he will do with it.  He is more playful on his own than Panama, and will probably go to town on the ball, but I don't know if he will want to play with me like this.  (Panama, on the other hand, would probably not care to play with the ball much on his own if left alone with it.)

Rondo is a very playful horse -- all play, all the time would be his motto if he had one.  He loves to put his front feet in the feeders in his corral and stomp away, and when he can get the tanks loose from the fence he will drag them around the corral with his front feet, too.  (The barn owners are always trying to tie the tanks to the fence, but that never lasts very long before Rondo has them loose again.)

He is also always playing with the front of the blanket.  He ripped the trim loose and ripped out one of the shoulder gussets, so I had to have it all put back together last time I had it washed.

The latest is that he has figured out how to unfasten the front of his blanket, which has the quick snaps and not just the buckles.  I went out to pull his blanket Tuesday morning and found him "naked" -- he was sunbathing in the corner of the corral, and when he saw me coming, he started nickering up a storm (and he's not as vocal as Pan, so this was a lot of talking for him).  At first I wondered if someone had pulled his blanket for me, but then I spotted it, lying on the ground in the corral.  When I picked it up I found that it was amazingly undamaged, but that the belly straps and leg straps were still fastened -- only the front was open, which means that he unhooked the chest and then shimmied out of it!

Some of my friends at the barn were understandably skeptical that he could have unfastened the spring clips in the front of the blanket, so when I blanketed last night I made darn sure they were fastened -- and closed.  Even so, this morning -- 12 hours later -- one of them was undone, and the other was partway undone: He had the clip open but the second D-ring had gotten jammed in there and was keeping it from releasing entirely.

So my little Houdini has definitely figured out how to open those quick-release clips, which means I may need to change out the hardware on his blanket.  In the meantime, I have those rubber rings/stoppers -- the kind you put on the buckles for the belly straps so that they won't come undone -- over the tongues of the clips, in the hopes that the thick rubber will block him from being able to open them.  I certainly hope so, as we are getting some snow today and tonight, and into tomorrow, and I don't want him naked and wet!



At February 15, 2013 at 8:15 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

My horses try to remove each other's blankets and usually end up ripping them, which is why I keep them separated when they wear their blankets, but dealing with a horse who removes his own blanket must be a challenge.

At February 15, 2013 at 10:51 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I am lucky that he and his pasturemates don't actually damage his blankets, actually (unlike Panama's buddies, who are constantly ripping his up for me). I'll just have to find some hardware he can't unfasten, if the rubber stoppers don't work. I'm heading out there shortly to take the blanket off, so we will find out soon how the blanket fared overnight!


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