Thursday, June 8, 2017

Out of Order

Not as in broken, but as in not in chronological order. I'm so far behind on the blog that I am just trying to post things as I remember them. I post most stuff "in real time" (sort of) on our FB page.

Back in April, when I was looking to take Skeeter to our 40-hour Spring Training for the Posse (which didn't happen), I wanted to give her as much of an advantage as I could. I know that balloons and kids and fairs all go hand-in-hand, so I thought it would be a good idea to torture desensitize the horses to balloons.

On April 16, I set off to the store to buy a dozen, not thinking about how icky I would feel once they were loaded in my car. I'd just started re-reading IT and the night before just read the passage about the thousands of balloons lined up under the bridge. I put the balloons in the car, sat in the driver's seat and had a "moment".

No, Pennywise was not with these balloons. I had to keep telling myself that.
On the way home, I plotted how I was going to handle the introduction. If I just tied them to the fence, the horses would simply go to the other side of the pen and ignore the scary things. If there were going to be fireworks, I didn't want to be in the pen with them initially, so I had to come up with some way to lure them *to* the balloons.

Having food-motivated horses sometimes makes things very easy. I decided to tie the balloons to their big feed tub and put goodies in there that they couldn't live without (black oil sunflower seeds and grandma cookies).

In case you don't have 13 minutes and change to watch the horses figure out the balloons, here are some stills. Skeeter, being so food motivated, was the first to approach, followed closely by Pearl. Only when Copper was certain the balloons weren't horse-eating ghosties did he approach.

I was thankful for the breeze, as it caused the balloons to move erratically - sometimes the horses got bonked in the face by the colorful ghosties and they didn't die.

Eventually the balloons became a complete non-issue, so I tied them to the fence just to keep them in the horses' minds.

You can see how concerned they were.

I ended up having to take the balloons down the next day because someone (I don't know which) had started to pop them and I worried about them inhaling pieces of balloon. When I took them down, I stood by the fence and popped every single one of the remaining ghosties with my pocket knife while the horses looked on, very disappointed that I was taking their toys away.

I'm going to call balloon training a success.

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