Horse training mantra gets a dog test

Horse trainers like to say, “Make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy.”
I embraced the strategy with my dog, Kip, during our most recent training session.

In this case, though, weather lent me a helping hand.

Photo by Agnes Moyon

Photo by Agnes Moyon

As previously noted, Kip has had a hard time restraining her herding impulse. More than once, this 10-month old Aussie has left me breathless and frustrated as she’s attempted to gather her half-ton charges.
It’s not just a matter of obedience, of course, but one of safety and welfare. Read more.
Our goal during today’s session was simply to hang out in the pasture, have the horses move around us, and be calm. (Simple, you say, but no easy feat for us!)

First, we toured the pasture perimeter. It was hot and humid. With her black, thick coat, she warmed up quickly.
We moved closer to the horses, who were grazing lazily. I asked Kip to lie down and stay in the shade while I hacked at weeds. Being naughty, then, meant getting overheated through movement and sunshine.
For what seemed like the very first time, Kip had an added incentive she could really feel. By doing nothing (against any Aussie’s nature), she was successful.

What a good pup!
kippOur education continues…

Read more Dogs and Horses posts.

Swamped Trails

Last June, I was in a mild panic, buying hay and feeding it out.

That’s how quickly our 10-acre pasture was eaten up by grazing and burned up by the high temperatures and lack of rain. We loved the sun and warmth, but animals and plants all suffered from the lack of moisture.

Check out this descriptive drought blogpost with images.

Note to those praying for rain: Enough Already.

The Iowa River, just downhill from our place, has been above flood stage for months and at 18 feet in Marengo, IA, it’s just a few feet below the catastrophic, record-setting mark of 2008.

The county road, a long gravel road that runs for six miles from Swisher to Amana, is largely underwater.

The Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area, the 14,000-acre parcel saddling the Iowa, home to fields, meadows, timberland and hundreds of animal species, is largely underwater.
In contrast to last June, I’m asking the horses to graze down the lawn, since mowing every five days is getting to be a bit much. They’re fat and happy and their pasture looks fine.
I suppose I’ll buy hay, but it’ll likely sit in the barn til autumn.
Images from our former riding routes, Left 2012; Right, 2013countycompare floodtwo greencompa:

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