Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Picnic with Your Horse

This is what I'd hoped would happen if we moved to the country. The day finally came. With a friend over to encourage them to play, to dress up, to head outside, to explore, the girls were hard at it. Then afternoon teatime came and where better to have tea than out in the pasture, right?

It was SO fun to hear the girls giggling and carrying on, and fantastic to see them communing with Maddie. (Lady kept herself clear. She's not used to urchins crawling around in her pasture.) Maddie is really social and, when we hike, typically hangs out QUITE close to us during our snack breaks. We suspect this has something to do with the last owner who informed us that the horse liked French fries and peppermint candies.

To picnic with a horse, however, there are some important safety tips. First of all, the horse must be VERY mellow. Maddie's a follower who we've worked with a lot. We've played with all sorts of odd things around her, as had her previous owner, and we've taken her packing which provided an entirely different desensitization opportunity.

The horse must also know she's not the Alpha animal. YOU must be the boss. If you have a horse that pushes you around when you're standing, you don't stand a chance on the ground. Work with her in the round pen (a LOT), on the trail, in the barnyard. Just put her on a leadline and spend a lot of time on the ground with her, always making sure she knows SHE is following YOU, not the other way around. Be her respectful, but leading, partner.

Don't start giving her treats  mid-picnic. Once you've given her a treat, she's going to horn in on the picnic blanket, the basket even the teapot. Have her stand aside, give her loves, scratch her nose, but make her wait for treats every time. She'll graze nearby if she's really hungry.

And have fun!


  1. That makes me smile, So glad to see them outside having a good time. YEAH ! must be cooling off there a bit. Thanks for the morning smile !

  2. That was a cute post!

  3. Our teen-aged boy and his friends have had a few campfire/bonfires in our back pasture. Their resident guests are our two large goats. The goats have learned how to team up on the new-found friends. One will stick their head in someone's drink, while the other one runs off with a whole bag of chips. Fun times :)


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