Day 7 – Phil’s Courage’s Journal

Morning routine was completed: food was poured; I claimed the food dish and the space around it, rubbed Phil’s head, and let him follow me to the food.

The farrier arrived at 8am. Phil’s front shoes were pulled. Phil has a little bit of a seedy toe on his left front. I will keep a close eye on this and keep him out of the wet as much as possible. The soil here is sandy so I’m going to let Phil go barefoot.

At lunchtime, I went to go get Phil to take him to the arena to mow the lawn some more. He didn’t acknowledge (with both eyes) me. He was focused on the herd. I drove him around the pen to switch his brain to the thinking side by giving him a task. After a few minutes he was ready to be haltered. I haltered and he again focused on the herd. As you can see we have made one step forward and two steps back. This is ok. Phil and I had an intense ground work session. We both were sweating and out of breath. When he really began to focus on me I stopped, took off the halter and left the pen. The best reward I could give him was to leave completely; to take away all pressure. So many people want to stay, pet, coo, and tell their horse what a good boy he is…..you are not rewarding your horse, you are keeping the pressure on him. By leaving completely he has time to digest what just happened.

I want to mention petting: when you pet your horse use long petting strokes, rubs, or scratches. It is insulting to your horse to give him a big pat. Horses rub, stroke, and scratch each other; this is enjoyable. They do not swat each other on the neck with their muzzles unless teeth were coming with the “pat.” Think of the last time someone gave you a big “pat” on the back. The gesture, I’m sure was well intended, however it was rather uncomfortable wasn’t it? Please, be respectful to your horses. “Patting” is a human behavior, not a horse behavior.

I moved Phil up to the barn. He still hasn’t joined a herd yet because I need to spend more one on one time. At the barn he can visit the other horses over the fence.

Evening meal went really well. I see a lot of progress.

My family and I returned home around 10pm. I went out to check and blanket the horses. I looked at Phil’s paddock and could not see him. I panicked. Of course, crazy thoughts of him jumping the fence ran though my mind. As I approached the fence Phil nickered softly and I could see the outline of his ears. He was lying down. This was a wonderful sign that he was comfortable and secure in his environment. Horses will never lie down if they do not feel safe; they are very vulnerable on the ground.

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