I had another lesson this week, but I won’t bore you with the same courses I did earlier in the week. The only change was that my trainer made me do the second course without stirrups and we learned that apparently Francis takes that to mean it’s time for zoomies. Nothing wild, just a bit more pace than he usually carries. Good to know. My legs hurt. Ow.
Anyways, I was thinking of what my “rules” for Frankie are. Like if I had to go out of town and have someone watch him for me, what are some basics of how to take care of him. There aren’t many, but here they are:
1.No hand feeding treats.
I know, I am the worst horse mom in the world. And I literally have a 5lb bag of treats sitting in my tack trunk. But homeboy gets really excited about treats. REALLY EXCITED. Like every time he senses the presence of a treat within a 2 mile radius it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to him.
He does not nip or get mouthy or anything, but Big Guy doesn’t realize just how big he is and tries to crawl in your pocket to be like “here look how cute and snuggly I am you should feed me” and meanwhile you’re like Jesus Christ horse get off me you’re the size of an battleship. So he gets tonnnns of scratches and pats for being good and tons of verbal praise (his life is one long string of “Good boy!! Good man!”) but treats do not factor into the equation. Sometimes the treat fairy will visit and leave a few morsels in his bucket for him to find, and that’s it.
2. No face smacking.
I don’t personally spend time anyone who actually does this, but I have seen people discipline their ponies by bopping them on the face. Um, if you hit my horse in the face you’d better brace for a jab in the eye because no. You do not do that. I’m a big proponent of a well-timed smack to discipline problem behaviors, but you do not hit the face or ears.
Things you may do with his face: scratch the itchies, rub the donkey ears, smoosh the snoot, snuggle the fluffers, present hands for licking, and give lots of kisses. Things you may not do with his face: hit it.
3. Make him pick up his feet.
He will do it. You do not have to convince him for 5 minutes that it’s a good idea. He will pretend it’s really hard for him. He’s lying. Ask firmly and he will immediately present his hooves to you, ask halfheartedly and he thinks you don’t mean it and will keep all four feet planted on the ground.
4. As mentioned in Rule 1, Homeboy often forgets that he is gigantic. Remind him.
Demand that he stop/turn/move promptly when leading and then throw a party when he does. He will not try to run you over and is quite well-behaved to handle, but needs reminders that he is not a lap dog and snuggles must be initiated by Mom.
And that about does it. I’m pretty sure anyone could safely ride him so I don’t have any rules there. What it all boils down to I think applies to many horses, not just Francis: be firm but fair.
Do you have any “rules” for handling your horse(s)?