Tuesday, August 18, 2009

S.O.S. Sing Or Speak

When a mare is in heat, they tend to be more alert. Not for predators, not for obstacles, not for other people. No, God forbid they focus on typical things. What are they looking for? STUDS! Boys! Boys! Boys! Boys! Boys! Boys! OMG BOYYYYYSSSSSSS!

That's my impersonation of Greta when she's just going into heat.... she get's over it after a while. TBH She's really only bad when she's in that annual breeding heat. But any other time she is as placid as a gelding or just a little bit more alert.

So when she's more alert, it can make riding a challenge. She knows to focus on me, but instinctively she wants to REALLY focus on her surroundings. I've kind of voice-keyed her to the word "Focus!" when I really want her attention, and just "Greta" any other time. You can tell when she's not listening to me because her ears are straight forward, or occasionally flicking back to me for a second, then flicking forward. That's great when she's out in the pasture being a horse, but when I'm riding her I kind of want us to work as a team, not her still in "pasture mode" and me really being the only one who's doing all the "work." So I tell her "focus!" and she snaps back into riding mode and things seem to go along better.

If there's nobody around and Greta begins to get a little ancy, I'll sing to her. I've done this with all of the horses I've had and it seems to calm them down. But I'll only do it when nobody's around, because it gets kind of embarrassing otherwise and I don't want to play up "I'm a horse whisperer. Horses love me cuz I sing to them" and that la-tee-dah crap. Cuz I am far from a horse whisperer!

All of the horses have seemed to like Bob Marley songs so far. Greta likes "Three Little Birds" in particular (singing don't worry, about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be all right!)

So I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my little "secrets" in a lecture by Jane Savoie - though I thought that the sound of my voice relaxed the horses, but apparently it could also do with your breathing rate and thus your brain waves and overall stress rate. I don't get to go to clinics all that much, and Jane Savoie is the only pro dressage rider out there that has a YouTube. Easy access! She looks like a good horsewoman too. Far from a Sjef Janssen......

Wish I could've attended that.

And on a final note: I haven't touched on this all but a few scant times in the blog because I didn't want to make a big deal about it. But.... we are officially moving Greta, not just considering it! It is of no offense to where she was being kept before, but my family decided it would be more logical for Greta to be boarded at a facility with an actual dressage ring than at a handicapped riding center:

  • Big green pasture with lots of trees and moderation of horses
  • one covered arena with lights (thank GOD!)
  • an uncovered arena with lights (both arenas are unobstructed)
  • two round pens (one with lights)
  • a semi-private tack room for pasture horses (so I know longer have to lug tack back and forth in the poor little SmartCar)
  • Lots of trails and near a state park that also has horse trails and creeks so we can go swimming!
  • Tacking up area
  • Grooming area
  • Farrier station (and they use our farrier too!)
  • Vet stockade (not like Greta will need that......)
  • Warm water wash rack indoors
  • Cold water wash rack outdoors
  • Very sensible manager (and a very thorough contract)
  • Very well-kept, sociable, sane horses (which shows everyone gets attention!)
  • Coded gate with a super fancy gate design (wish I had a picture!)
  • and the list goes on and on......
I think Greta will find the place to her liking. She will be moved by September 1st, so be on the lookout for "first day" pictures!

And lastly, Snoop Dog attempts to feed a horse. Cute. And I mean that sarcastically.


  1. I really think horses are very keyed in to voices, especially tone. Val learned his voice cues for lunging so fast, and I've even started using them on our conditioning trots so that I hardly ever have to touch his face. Very neat! I also like to sing, but my barn always has so many people in it that I usually don't get to, unless I'm in the indoor and it's raining really loud so no one can hear me! (Not the greatest singing voice in the world.)

    Sounds like that's a great place you're moving to! I thought it was really neat that you had a tree to tack up under, though. That's pretty cool :)

    And definitely take advantage of swimming; it is so incredibly fun! We have a nice pond at our barn that's perfect for swimming, and we go a lot. It's awesome for cooling down in the summer.

  2. Tone, no kidding! I could scream "you're such a sweet girl" and it'd mean the same thing as if I had screamed "stop it!" lol.

    I've never asked how I sing... cuz nobody's been around to hear it! Don't want them to either!

    Yeah, the tree was really nice... but the wind also blew right towards us and it drove Greta crazy, so we moved to tacking up in the barn with the cross-ties (I'm the only person there who uses them anyway lol) and I really miss the tree since the barn fan's cord needs to be replaced! But either way we get shade. That's really nice :D

    I asked my instructor on swimming, and she gave me all the "guidelines" like how to hold on to the saddle and what-not. She can turn anything into a science. I love it. But I do look forward to trying it out, so long as there's still water in this drought lol! And thank goodness I'm in a synthetic! Though bareback would make more sense....... whaaaaateverrrrr.

    Yeah, we'll be moving on the 29th. Very exciting!

  3. Holding on to the saddle? Not too sure why that'd be necessary... I'd love to hear what your trainer told you :)

  4. Something along the lines of letting the horse totally have thier head and holding onto the saddle or mane when you get into deep water that way you don't float away, if you don't just end up swimming beside your horse (so long as your careful of their legs). I don't know if we have that deep of water nearby, but I'm sure I'd figure it out. Can't wait to see what kind of "water" they have lol!


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Thanks guys!