It's a bit warmer today, with sun and a little less wind, so with luck some riding will happen this afternoon. The mud is starting to dry out a little bit, although both Fred and Fritz lost a shoe yesterday - I noticed when I was leading out that they sounded funny on the concrete aisle, and sure enough.
The boarders are collectively going to do a fence survey, taking spray paint with them and marking posts and boards to be replaced, and then marking the spots on a diagram of the pastures we have. We have a lot of board fencing - all of the exterior fencing is board and some of the interior is as well. Most of our interior fencing is electric, as we do rotational grazing with two herds and move the horses about once a week during pasture season.
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I've been thinking about courtesy. I think it's true that we're more likely to be courteous to people who are courteous to us, and vice versa. I think this also applies to people and horses. If I expect my horse to be courteous to me - respecting my space and also listening to what I say and trying to do what I ask - it only makes sense that I should be courteous to my horse. I think if I can do this consistently, my horse will be much more likely to listen to me and be courteous in return. In my mind, this isn't at all inconsistent with providing my horse with consistent leadership and direction, and it also doesn't mean that I don't get big if I have to on the rare occasions when that's necessary. But if my approach is based on asking with the level of cue/ask/pressure that I want to end up with, and approaching the work with an objective of achieving softness, both in my asks and in the horse's response, then courtesy should be a given.
I've been trying to see how many different ways I can apply this - almost every circumstance seems to lend itself to this. This morning, when I went to halter Maisie to take her out, she had a few mouthfuls of hay in her stall that she wanted to finish - the hay inside is better than the hay in the turnout. I waited for a moment to allow her to finish - what do I need to be rushing for? When I went to halter Sugar, she had just taken a large mouthful of hay that was sticking out of her mouth to either side. Instead of jamming on her halter over the hay, I waited for a moment for her to chew enough that it disappeared inside her mouth, then I put on her halter.
I can think of even more examples - moving quietly instead of abruptly; not slamming stall doors shut loudly and abruptly but softly and quietly; being careful to hold gates so the horse never feels like they're going to swing shut on the horse's hindquarters; stroking and patting the horse without making noise - if a pat is making noise it probably doesn't feel all that good to the horse. Holding the bridle up when I take it off so that it comes gently out of the horse's mouth and doesn't hit the teeth. Asking a horse to move over with a soft touch instead of a shove. When picking feet, gently putting the foot down instead of dropping it so it hits the ground. Giving the horse time to figure out what it is that I want - not being impatient. Basically it's about treating the horse like I'd want to be treated if I were the horse. Sort of the horse version of the golden rule!