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Riding The Hourglass Pattern9 29 20 15

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Riding the Hourglass Pattern: 9-29-20

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After extensive work in the Round Pen getting Chasity and Wrangler light in the bridle, we are finally ready to graduate to the Hourglass Pattern in the open arena. They enjoy working together, so I just take them both together and tie one outside the working area while I work with the other. We only do these lessons weekly, but they seem to practice good posture on their own during turnout in between lessons. Their play and rest patterns are changing and their posture is improving dramatically. They can now support my weight efficiently in the saddle, so it is now time to hone their skills in a more open setting where we can work more freely. They could trot while sustaining their good postural balance in the Round Pen without my added weight, but that is a pretty restricted place to introduce the trot with my weight in the saddle. So I will tie up Wrangler with his “Elbow Pull” while I work with Chasity.

As always, she leads easily, politely negotiates the gate and stands quietly while I adjust her “Elbow Pull” and adjust her equipment. I will tighten the girth a bit more for lunging to hold the saddle in place. I always tighten the girth a little at a time and not all at once for her comfort. She appreciates my consideration.

In preparation for riding, I will lunge Chasity first. When I ride her, I want her sufficiently warmed up and responsive to perfecting our communication skills. The five rotations at walk, then trot in each direction is sufficient exercise with some speed as she is now well-balanced while performing these tasks. The faster gaits under saddle will come later.

Chasity executes a very nice reverse and immediately slows to the walk, maintaining her good posture. When they are in a good equine posture, the entire length of the spine is stretched, causing space and elasticity between the vertebrae.

If the equine is perpetually allowed to carry their head too high, the vertebrae can become stuck and calcified too close together and over time can cause a condition called “Kissing Spine” that keeps the spine rigid and inflexible.

After a sufficient warm up with the addition of a bit of canter while tracking to the right, Chasity is ready to be ridden in the Hourglass Pattern. She obediently comes out the gate and turns to me for her reward.

I politely mount, settle onto her back softly and offer her reward as I did in the Tack Barn and then in the Round Pen. She stands absolutely still.

Then we do a rein back before moving forward into the Hourglass Pattern. Contrary to popular belief, this “pattern training” will allow Chasity to concentrate on the details of tracking forward, bending and staying light in the bridle.

The arcs and turns in the Hourglass Pattern allow Chasity’s internal pendulum to swing from side to side and come to rest at dead center when she finally halts. She maintains straight lines and bends to the arcs through her rib cage.

When an equine is perpetually schooled on the rail or in too many circles in one direction and then another, this radical movement does not allow the internal pendulum to become centered and balanced.

There is an optical illusion that takes place when riding the rail that “pushes” the balance continuously to one side. Straight lines become difficult and bending will be stiff at best.

This swaying in the Hourglass Pattern from one arc to another keeps the internal pendulum moving freely from side to side while the equine moves freely forward. It produces fluid motion and relaxation in the equine.

All of this keeps the animal responsive, light in the bridle and facilitates good postural movement that results in squared halts and straight rein backs. They enjoy their work because it FEELS good!

Chasity stands still while I fish in my pocket for her final reward for a job well done! Her balance is solid!  

We then go back to the Round Pen area to retrieve Wrangler from his “spectator seat!” Wrangler and Chasity have been taught exactly and consistently the same way, so they are quite maneuverable and willing to do as I ask. I have not experienced a “balky” donkey or mule in years!

Combined Groundwork9 1 20 14

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Combined Groundwork: 9-1-20

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Chasity is in such good condition these days that I felt I could skip a week before engaging in her formal lessons again. She does get manual abdominal flexion exercises daily when she is fed. The beauty of postural core strength exercises is that they stay strong after the initial introductory work. It has been five months of this kind of exercise for Chasity, so if her workouts are only every other week, they are enough to sustain her strong core strength in good equine posture. The muscles, ligaments and tendons are now symmetrically strong around her skeletal frame.  I decided to start in the Round Pen to allow her to move out before engaging in the more intense lunging and ground driving in the open arena again. Her posture and movement were impeccable!

The “Elbow Pull” is now staying loose most of the time. This means she is strong and balanced in good postural self-carriage.  Her movement is confident and fluid. She executes the turns on the haunches perfectly upon command. The transformation in her whole body and strength has been exciting to witness! Her attitude has improved by leaps and bounds as her overall health improved. We are still treating the infection she has that seems to be systemic and in her glands. Our approach will be to continue a regimen of antibiotics, then when it is done, take her off of them until it appears to be trying to return. Then we will resume antibiotic treatment.

Chasity moves beautifully and stands stock still whenever we are working on her. This is a marked improvement from the “Nervous Nellie” that first arrived at the end of March this year.

After doing a bit of lunging, we are now going to review ground driving in the Round Pen before we go to the open arena for more practice. I want to get her light in the bridle now, so I begin with a rein back. Then we proceed forward at a relaxed pace.

Chasity does a very nice “S” turn through the middle for a change of direction. I try to keep my contact with her bit as light as possible, giving her cues with no more than vibrating little fingers.

Chasity is responding well to the drive lines and is getting lighter in the bridle. She halts and rein backs easily upon command to receive her reward for a job well done!

After lunging Chasity and Wrangler individually in the Round Pen, we are now headed for the dressage arena where they will each get their turn at lunging on the lunge line and ground driving. They both lead easily alone, or together, and walk in sync with me upon request. Sometimes Wrangler gets a bit distracted.

Chasity is always on alert, but does not tend to be silly about things. She remembers her lessons well and is always happy to please. I start her with the lunge line shortened and this time she does not pull at all, but stays on the circle with her intermittent squeeze/release cues from my little finger as her outside front leg comes forward and into suspension.

As she circles, I slowly let out the lunge line. I will not ask her to trot until she offers to so so. I don’t want to force speed and sacrifice precision. She is now stopping consistently in a goos balance.

After re-tying the lunge line to the bit ring on the other side, I reverse Chasity, ask her to go the other way and she complies nicely. Again, I start with a short line and let it out gradually.

At the end of several rotations, I ask her to “Whoa,” stretch down and then stand still while I roll up the lunge line and prepare to put on the drive lines. My Ranch Manager, Chad, is ready to assist with the ground driving this time after her bolting in the previous lesson when I ground drove her by myself.

I do not want Chasity to think she can run off every time we get into the open arena, so I will set her up to be successful right from the beginning with the assistant this time. She can run and play with Wrangler in turnout later. She does not seem to mind at all and is all business about her ground driving. She completed the Hourglass Pattern in one direction, crossed the diagonal and did it in the other direction and then did a very nice halt and rein back to end the lesson.

Chasity stood quietly while I removed the drive lines and rolled them up. Then we went to retrieve Wrangler from his place along the fence.  After Chasity’s turn, Wrangler got his turn at lunging on the lunge line and ground driving. Then we all headed to the gate together.

When you are consistent in the way you do things with every animal, it is easy to lead, lunge and negotiate obstacles with multiple animals because they all know what to expect and there are no abrupt changes to the routine to cause adverse behaviors. Training can be fun for EVERYONE!

Chasitys Challenges Yearly Baths 7 14 20 9

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Yearly Baths: 7-14-20

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Each year, I try to pick the hottest week in July to do the equine’s yearly baths. The mules and horses have shed out their winter coats, except for a strip of hair on the mules’ bellies, and the donkeys are getting closer to being completely shed out. This makes a difference when you are trying to get them dry after their baths. They all begin to grow their winter coats in September.

Their natural hair coats will insulate them from the heat and cold and will protect them from insects, so I do not advise clipping them unless you are showing. Even then, it is not advisable to clip the hair inside of the ears! I bath as many as four at a time and in smaller friendly groups like Wrangler and his “Lady Love,” Chasity! I am polite, considerate and respectful, so it is always an enjoyable experience for all! I begin with the introduction to the hose on their front legs.

Wrangler and Chasity enjoy their yearly baths to get off the dirt that has built up during the year. I offer a drink to their lips and afterwards move to their foreheads, being careful not to get water in their eyes or ears. I spray the water gently into their mouths and we “water pick” the teeth! Playful antics like this teach them to always remain calm and keep things safe between us. This keeps interest to a maximum and intimidation to a minimum.

When they are approached in this manner, Chasity and Wrangler can enjoy the cool water on a hot day! Chasity knows I am being careful and doesn’t pull away, then takes a sip from the hose.

I reward Chasity with crimped oats from my fanny pack for being such a good girl. Then I rinse off the oats that were stuck to her whiskers as she gazes at the other equines in the pens nearby who are anxiously awaiting their turns.

Her attention returns to me and I work my way up her forehead to her forelock and ears. I make sure the spray is light and doesn’t sting so she will keep her ears laid back for the rinsing. I would hate to get water in Chasity’s ears, but if by accident I do, I just back off and allow her to shake her head to get the water out before I resume.

We use Tres Semme (Breakage Defense) shampoo and Aussie 3X Conditioner on the manes and tails only, and just water on their bodies to keep their hair coats from drying out. In the case of Chasity’s white legs, I will use the shampoo and conditioner there, too. The result is a healthy and shiny hair coat year round.

I spray the water over their bodies and then follow up with the serrated side of the shedding blade to scrape the dirt from their body. I keep going over each spot until the water runs clear. I pay special attention to the legs and any places that flies might have laid eggs. I will scrape these places with a stiff brush or with my fingernails and apply Neosporin to these spots, and any sores, after they are dry. I scrape off the excess water with the smooth side of the shedding blade. Then Chasity and Wrangler are put on the hot walker to dry.

When Wrangler and Chasity are dry, I sprinkle Johnson’s Baby oil in the manes and tails and spray for flies with Farnam Tri-Tech 14. The baby oil will keep them from chewing on each other’s manes and tails. Those who have sensitive skin around their eyes will receive fly masks. Chasity and Wrangler do not need them. When entering or leaving an area, we ALWAYS execute gates exactly the same way! That way, there is no confusion and chaos that could result in resistant behaviors.

Chasity and all my equines always know exactly what is expected and know exactly what they need to do.

Chasity will be rewarded with her favorite crimped oats for her cooperative behavior. Good manners, and being polite and respectful are paramount to getting your equine’s full cooperation! Even if Chasity does go right out into her pen and roll afterwards, she always seems to enjoy having clean, healthy skin and hair. And, most of all, she enjoys her time with me and looks forward to the next time!

Chasitys Challenges Yearly Baths 7 14 20 3

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Yearly Baths: 7-14-20

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Each year, I try to pick the hottest week in July to do the equine’s yearly baths. The mules and horses have shed out their winter coats, except for a strip of hair on the mules’ bellies, and the donkeys are getting closer to being completely shed out. This makes a difference when you are trying to get them dry after their baths. They all begin to grow their winter coats in September.

Their natural hair coats will insulate them from the heat and cold and will protect them from insects, so I do not advise clipping them unless you are showing. Even then, it is not advisable to clip the hair inside of the ears! I bath as many as four at a time and in smaller friendly groups like Wrangler and his “Lady Love,” Chasity! I am polite, considerate and respectful, so it is always an enjoyable experience for all! I begin with the introduction to the hose on their front legs.

Wrangler and Chasity enjoy their yearly baths to get off the dirt that has built up during the year. I offer a drink to their lips and afterwards move to their foreheads, being careful not to get water in their eyes or ears. I spray the water gently into their mouths and we “water pick” the teeth! Playful antics like this teach them to always remain calm and keep things safe between us. This keeps interest to a maximum and intimidation to a minimum.

When they are approached in this manner, Chasity and Wrangler can enjoy the cool water on a hot day! Chasity knows I am being careful and doesn’t pull away, then takes a sip from the hose.

I reward Chasity with crimped oats from my fanny pack for being such a good girl. Then I rinse off the oats that were stuck to her whiskers as she gazes at the other equines in the pens nearby who are anxiously awaiting their turns.

Her attention returns to me and I work my way up her forehead to her forelock and ears. I make sure the spray is light and doesn’t sting so she will keep her ears laid back for the rinsing. I would hate to get water in Chasity’s ears, but if by accident I do, I just back off and allow her to shake her head to get the water out before I resume.

We use Tres Semme (Breakage Defense) shampoo and Aussie 3X Conditioner on the manes and tails only, and just water on their bodies to keep their hair coats from drying out. In the case of Chasity’s white legs, I will use the shampoo and conditioner there, too. The result is a healthy and shiny hair coat year round.

I spray the water over their bodies and then follow up with the serrated side of the shedding blade to scrape the dirt from their body. I keep going over each spot until the water runs clear. I pay special attention to the legs and any places that flies might have laid eggs. I will scrape these places with a stiff brush or with my fingernails and apply Neosporin to these spots, and any sores, after they are dry. I scrape off the excess water with the smooth side of the shedding blade. Then Chasity and Wrangler are put on the hot walker to dry.

When Wrangler and Chasity are dry, I sprinkle Johnson’s Baby oil in the manes and tails and spray for flies with Farnam Tri-Tech 14. The baby oil will keep them from chewing on each other’s manes and tails. Those who have sensitive skin around their eyes will receive fly masks. Chasity and Wrangler do not need them. When entering or leaving an area, we ALWAYS execute gates exactly the same way! That way, there is no confusion and chaos that could result in resistant behaviors.

Chasity and all my equines always know exactly what is expected and know exactly what they need to do.

Chasity will be rewarded with her favorite crimped oats for her cooperative behavior. Good manners, and being polite and respectful are paramount to getting your equine’s full cooperation! Even if Chasity does go right out into her pen and roll afterwards, she always seems to enjoy having clean, healthy skin and hair. And, most of all, she enjoys her time with me and looks forward to the next time!

WDD After The Winter Break 3 29 21 11

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: After the Winter Break: 3-29-21

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Wrangler is such a goof ball! Because Wrangler would lock up in front of the Tack Barn and not want to walk over the grate, I got smart and learned to take Chasity to the Tack Barn first. Then, he didn’t even notice the grate and walked right in! However, he gets pretty rambunctious about waiting his turn. I could lead them both at once, but he needs to learn to be by himself with me sometimes…and BEHAVE! When I first got Wrangler, he would get excited like this and then just try run over me when I opened the stall door. Through repetition and humane discipline, I changed his behavior with Behavior Modification, a systematic reward system of training. To be successful, one needs to target the behaviors that need to change, set up the equine for success and promptly reward the positive behaviors as they occur. AND, you need a specific, consistent and humane way to stop bad behaviors in their tracks when they occur. We work on the premise of POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, but we also need to learn how to use NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT if one does not want to be hurt, or even killed, by these VERY LARGE and STRONG animals!

The negative reinforcement that I use really works. When he got aggressive the first time, I raised my hand like a stop sign and when he did not stop, he got a firm slap to the side of his mouth as I said, “NO!” as loud as I could. I promptly raised my hand like a stop sign in front of his face again after which he started to turn back around. I quickly took a handful of oats from my fanny pack, took a step forward and offered him the oats. He did a double-take and came back for the oats to which I replied, “Thank you for giving me my space!” Going forward, he still occasionally gets too aggressive, but he always stops when I put my hand up like a stop sign in front of his face and takes a step back. He won’t need to be slapped again since this was done correctly the first time. He remembers!

As soon as I open the stall door now, Wrangler immediately stops his antics and becomes a gentleman that can be rewarded. He stands stock still while I put on the halter and then drops his head at my shoulder. I hold his lead rope in my left hand while pointing in the direction of travel with my right hand. I tell him to “Walk on” and look down to see what foot he is leading with and follow his front legs, step for step. We get IN SYNC with each other and I lead him that way from the time he leaves his pen to the time he returns. I do this the very same way with ALL of my equines ALL of the time. Consistency breeds familiarity and compliance.

Donkeys have issues with chronic runny eyes and noses. The way to stave off any infection is to clean their eyes, nostrils and ears with a damp towel daily. This also encourages them to accept handling around their face in general.

Donkeys are inherently desert animals and can severely founder or colic on lush feed. Symptoms of too rich feed will be manifested in the hooves as abscesses, crusty growth, collapsed heels and frogs, or just plain stress rings. Wrangler has abnormally small rear hooves and it is important that his core strength is developed in good postural balance to make sure the weight distribution is even so none of his hooves are carrying too much weight for his size.

Wrangler is rather flat-withered and needs a saddle that will “hug” his body, leaving ample room for his spine.

I initially tighten the girth snug, but not too tight. The crupper is adjusted so the tail lies comfortably.

I gently press on the bars of his jaw to open his mouth for the bit and carefully bring the crown of the bridle over his ears, protecting them with my hand. Being polite and considerate will get much more cooperation from your equine.

I adjust all the straps on the bridle so it is comfortable, paying special attention around the ears. The drop noseband helps him learn to hold the bit properly. I always gradually tighten the girth over several times.

The walk to the Round Pen is still IN SYNC…all three of us! Wrangler’s “Elbow Pull” postural restraint is adjusted and he is reminded how to release the tension.

Wrangler’s posture has greatly improved over three years and has given him added strength, endurance, stamina and animation to his gaits. He defies the slow and pokey characterization of donkeys in general! He’s a true athlete!

Wrangler and Chasity do a very nice reverse in sync with each other. Wrangler resumes the working walk.

Five rotations at walk, five rotations at trot, reverse and repeat in the other direction. We do 3 sets with a 3-minute break in between. Rewards are in order with every halt. With every halt, Wrangler is asked to rebalance and square up!

Then I begin riding with three rotations at trot in each direction. I carry a riding crop in case he needs a little encouragement to keep going. If he gets too tired, we call it quits and will do more another day.

I always end the sessions with a halt and rein back. Then I dismount and reward him again for a job well done!

Back in the Tack Barn at the work station, I carefully remove the bridle. I always hold the halter crown strap in my right hand while removing the bridle. I then slip the bridle onto my left arm, pick up the nose band of the halter in my left hand, bring it over his nose and buckle the halter. This way, if he pulls away, I still have my arms (and halter) around his neck to hold on to him.

We make our way back to the barn and Wrangler waits patiently while Chasity enters the stall first (Ladies first, you know!). He follows her sedately into the stall and they both turn around to me to have their halters removed and to receive their rewards. Wrangler “suggests” to me politely that I should hurry with Chasity’s halter and get to the rewards…QUICKLY! He’s still hungry!!! Silly boy!!!


Hot To Trot 6 30 20 16

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Hot to Trot: 6-30-20

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It was a rainy day, so I decided to have Chasity and Wrangler’s workout take place in the indoor arena Round Pen. I had not planned to film this workout, but since the Round Pen was a lot further from the Tack Barn than my outdoor Round Pen, I decided to take my chances and try to lead Chasity and Wrangler together! I thought that would be film-worthy for sure. Those of you that have tried to lead ONE donkey around puddles in the road and other such “scary things” know that you cannot count on their compliance. All you can do is HOPE for it! As it turned out, Chasity and Wrangler were very good all the way to the Round Pen, but there were still surprises to come!

They both stood quietly while I unlatched the gate as they had done dozens of times before, then waited patiently as I opened it.

They executed the gate perfectly together. This is a testament to my belief that when these kinds of movements are consistently done exactly the same way, it eliminates confusion and promotes compliance. They happily received their rewards of crimped oats from my fanny pack.

I then tied Wrangler to the fence with the “Elbow Pull” where he would wait while I adjusted Chasity’s “Elbow Pull.” Chasity checked out the new work space.

First I adjusted Chasity’s “Elbow Pull” and then I adjusted Wrangler’s to keep them from raising their heads too high and inverting their neck and back.

They both walked casually with no pressure from the “Elbow Pull” at all. When asked to trot, Chasity was “up against” the “Elbow Pull” at first, but was still stepping well underneath her body and striking her hind feet directly under the center of balance.

It was after the reverse that I discovered that Chasity was in heat and Wrangler decided he would like to mount her! So, I deliberately and quietly took him from the Round Pen and tied him up outside the fence. Chasity resumed her workout alone. She did lovely at the walk and kept the “Elbow Pull” loose, even throughout the reverse!

When I finally asked for trot, she was hot to trot! Chasity was definitely improving her ability to maintain her self-carriage and good posture. When the “Elbow Pull” is properly adjusted, it will encourage each individual equine’s BEST posture. It should NOT force their head down.

When asked to “Whoa,” Chasity happily complied and then turned to me for her next command. I asked for the “Reverse” and she was prompt in her response.

Then Chasity resumed her calm forward motion at the working walk, maintaining a loose “Elbow Pull.”She has made marked improvement in just 4 short weeks of Round Pen work after 3 months of leading for core strength and balance in the “Hourglass Pattern.”

When I asked for trot, she showed me she was a bit tired and was back up against the “Elbow Pull,” but she was still tracking well underneath her body and holding an acceptable posture.

When my female equines are in heat, I lighten the pressure on them and quit when I see they are tiring. This keeps them from getting “grumpy” and helps them to maintain a happy attitude toward me and the training.

Chasity and I exited the Round Pen in perfect form and then went to get Wrangler. Building a good relationship with your equine makes EVERYTHING easier!

Wrangler was standing sideways to the fence, but moved over promptly upon command. I wanted him on my right. He was still mesmerized by Chasity in heat, but he was still a gentleman and complied with my wishes! I love it when they behave so well!

Chasity flirted with Wrangler and he reciprocated while I untied his “Elbow Pull” and released him. Then we all marched together to the Tack Barn where they were untacked, then returned to the barn yard for turnout and more intense flirtation! Love was in the air!

Chasity Meets The Monster Vac 6 2 20 15

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity Meets the Monster Vac: 6-2-20

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6-2-20

Chasity is now regularly coming to her stall door and is always anxious to see what the next challenge will be. The one thing she HAS learned is that she will never be hurt by anyone here. Cleaning her ears was a necessary evil at first, but she now enjoys the gentle cleaning as I wipe the rag with the grain of the hair to get the dirt from her ears. And she loves having clean ears! We are ALWAYS consistent and stay with the routine about everything we do with all of our equines. They appreciate knowing what comes next. Ours is a NO ANXIETY zone, but that doesn’t mean we do not challenge them and set boundaries for good behavior. Chasity is about to be tested to the max with her next new challenge!

Chasity really enjoyed the brisk brushing with the multi-bristled human hair brush. It is the only brush that I have found the really expedites shedding and leaves the coat soft and shiny. It reaches deep in the coat and aerates the hair shafts. After the brushing, it is followed with either the shedding blade to remove the loosened hair laying on top, or….there is an introduction to the VACUUM CLEANER!!! Chasity was not too sure about this BIG BLUE THING that rolled!

We always take the introduction of new things slowly. I gently coaxed Chasity toward the vacuum cleaner. This was an approach that she recognized from her obstacle training and moved furtively toward me to receive her reward of crimped oats.

She watched the cameras while I went to plug it in. The loud sucking noise startled her! I acknowledged her concern and calmed her with a soothing voice.

But then it was time for the business of vacuuming HER! I use the cotton lead rope for control, but she is prevented from going backwards with the second hitch rail tie made of a stout braided nylon rope with bull snaps on each end. The last thing you want is for the rope to break! I talked to Chasity and ask her if she would rather calm down and step forward to receive her reward…she thought about it…I waited patiently…

…and she decided that was a pretty good idea! She tentatively accepted the vacuum on her forehead. This is a spot where they generally like to be vacuumed first.

I laughed as she made a plea for help from the camera people! Then I had to straighten out the hose and she was certain that big black coiled “snake” was going to get her!

She wasn’t exactly pleased, but she allowed me to begin to vacuum her neck…and then her shoulder. I kept a hand on her so she could feel my caring support.

It didn’t take long for her to calm down and allow me to vacuum the rest of her body. She discovered that it actually felt pretty good!

Then I looped the “BIG BLACK SNAKE” over the hitch rail to prepare to do the other side. She sat back on the rope again, but was easily coaxed forward again.

Things are always different from one side of an equine to the next. So, when I approached from the other side, she again sat back on the rope, but came forward again quickly to receive her reward.

I did her forehead again while she fixated her gaze to the camera people. When I got to her body, she was fixated on the BIG BLUE BOX, but not bothered at all by the suction, or the hose.

After I finished her right side, I knelt by the BIG BLUE BOX and asked her to come and investigate which Chasity did willingly. She had conquered the challenge of the MONSTER VAC!!!

Wranglers Runaway9 1 20 19

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s Runaway: 9-1-20

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Wrangler has been a happy camper since we acquired Chasity. Before that, he was so rambunctious that there was no one else that could be in turnout with him and I had limited time to work with him. He and Chasity are the same size and the same age, so they do get along very well. I still have to make training judgments when working with them. He helped me to get Chasity moving freely in the Round Pen during her first lessons, but lately, he has been annoying her while lunging which does not allow her to relax in the “Elbow Pull” like she should. And, he doesn’t relax either because he is too busy showing off to her now! So, I had to modify my approach. I still take them out together and just tie one up while I am working the other. I find that this works very well. Wrangler is back to moving in a dignified manner!

I can say that showing off to her did have its benefits. It developed his agility and his eagerness to move more forward and into a canter. When working him alone, I did not have to tie his reins to the saddle to keep his head up as I did when I was working him with her, but I did leave them on the bridle and secured them around his neck in case I did need them. His trot was very nice this time, so I decided to actually give the command to “Canter” and Wrangler willingly complied!

As Wrangler passed Chasity, he did occasional do a little crow-hop to acknowledge her, but mostly he stayed in good balanced posture and exhibited core strength with a lot of agility and flexibility. I used to think I needed to tire my animals to make them behave, but I have since found that when I pay attention to their physical development as well as the tasks I want them to do they are much happier and willing to comply. I PREPARE them for performance and bad behaviors decrease exponentially because I make them FEEL good! Good behavior is ALWAYS rewarded!

Wrangler decided to spook at a small branch that was on the ground, so I picked it up and we played with it! Then we got Chasity after her turn at lunging and made our way to the dressage arena.

Although Wrangler does tend to get a bit distracted when I have Chasity along, he does stay in sync with my steps most of the time. This is important in order to have their full attention.

This is Wrangler’s first lunge line lesson in the open, so I began with the short line as I usually do, but when he circled around me, he got to the point where he was facing Chasity and bolted toward her!

Apparently, Wrangler did not want to jump the fence, so he headed for the opening in the fence and then ran around the dressage arena perimeter. I just let go of the lines and watched him as he ran. I stayed where I was and assessed his movement while he got his “jollies” out!

He got halfway around and decided he wanted to go back toward Chasity. I guess he is not a confident jumper because he slowed down and carefully WALKED over the fence…in good balance and then cantered in balance in her direction!

I blocked him from going to Chasity and he darted to the left and toward the other end of the dressage arena. I called his name and asked him to come back…and he did…at a full gallop!

He thought about running around me, but decided a reward was a much better idea! Chasity was impressed with his performance and so was HE! I was just happy that Wrangler had decided to go back to work!

So, we repeated the process and he did nicely tracking to the left and halted quietly upon command. I did not let the line out very far. We would add that step the next time. I rewarded his success!

We did, however, do the same thing in the opposite direction, and again, I did not press my luck and kept the line shortened and controlled. Next, Wrangler would get his ground driving lesson in the open arena…another first.

I employed my Ranch Manager, Chad, as an assistant to make certain that things did not get out of control. I wanted to set Wrangler up for success. He was just perfect through the Hourglass Pattern and over the ground rails in the middle of the pattern.

After tracking through the pattern in one direction with the halts and rein backs in their designated spots between the cones, then crossing the diagonal and completing it the same pattern in the other direction, Wrangler did a perfect halt and rein back, and was amply rewarded for his success! It was time to quit!

Chasity’s Farrier Visit 5 22 20 6

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s Farrier Visit: 5-22-20

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5-22-20

When Chasity first arrived, her hooves were inordinately long in front with Borium shoes and her back feet were worn unevenly and at the wrong angles. Because her body was in such bad posture and her hooves so out of balance, we knew it would take quite a while and lots of frequent trims to get her hooves balanced and aligned properly. This would have to be done in conjunction with getting her body into good posture with the core strength to support that good equine posture. This would be Chasity’s  challenges!

Chasity is now standing quietly and picking up her feet easily, but she still wasn’t sure about standing still without being tied up. A small challenge for her would be to learn to stand quietly in the alleyway of the barn while our farrier, Dean Geesen works on her instead of being at her work station in the Tack Barn. Because she stood still, she was rewarded with her favorite crimped oats. The misshapen hoof is beginning to rotate into a more balanced position, but we still have a lot of work ahead before the hoof will be correct.

Dean is a therapeutic corrective farrier that is familiar with Longears. This is a critical element in your Longears’ welfare. Longears have angles and hoof construction that is quite different from a horse and it takes a knowledgeable farrier to keep from doing them harm. Chasity feels the difference in the balance of her feet, however slight, and it affects her whole body!

Chasity’s hind feet appear as if they have been done like a farrier would do a horse. Her rear hooves are not as upright as they should be with insufficient heels. Dean leaves the heels, rasps the front feet and rolls the toes a bit to promote more proper action and healthy growth. As long as I have had donkeys, I have never had to put shoes on them. It is my experience that when they are in good postural balance in their body, they generally wear their feet evenly and vice versa. When fed properly, the hooves remain hard and balanced. They don’t even need to be trimmed all that often if they are not consistently standing on soft ground, or in mud. We use pea gravel in our runs and driveways. In the runs, we put about four inches down. It drains well, is hard enough to promote hard hooves, is rounded and does not chip the feet and is soft enough for the equines to lie down comfortably.

Chasity is tolerates yielding her back feet much better after having a chiropractic adjustment in her pelvis and hip joints yesterday. This is a dramatic beginning for her toward MUCH better balance and posture. She had to be a very sore and uncomfortable animal when she first arrived. She is now feeling some relief and is much more cooperative.

The front hoof on the opposite side reveals the compromised imbalance that she had when she came to us. However, the first trim put her on the road to recovery and her feet are beginning to grow in the correct direction. She has gained a lot more heel in the rear in the past eight weeks.

Chasity has learned to be sent into her stall and then to turn and square up for her reward! Her gait has improved substantially in the past two days with chiropractic work and another trim!


LUNGINGGROUND DRIVING8 4 20 11

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: MORE LUNGING & GROUND DRIVING: 8-4-20

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Wrangler is wondering why Augie and Spuds, the mini donkeys are here. He is usually worked with Chasity… just the two of them! Wrangler is big on being the center of attention and stands quietly while I put on his surcingle instead of his English saddle this time. He is sure something is up, but he doesn’t exactly know what it might be just yet!

Wrangler and Chasity are now getting REALLY GOOD at being led together and stay in sync with my steps. They negotiate the gate easily and obediently. This is how well things can go when you are clear and consistent about the way that you do things. The animals then know what to expect and can comply without anxiety.

I led Augie and Spuds to the Round Pen and tied them up outside so they could watch Wrangler and Chasity while they were lunging. I thought maybe I would be able to lunge all four of them together if things went well. When they have someone to watch, my animals learn to stand still when tied. They know it will soon be their turn.

Wrangler immediately noticed the mini donkeys and wondered why they were there, but when asked, I regained his attention to business. Chasity walked off to practice while I adjusted Wrangler’s “Elbow Pull.”

Wrangler stood quietly while I made some adjustments and asked him to flex at his poll to make sure it was not too restrictive. Then I sent him to thr rail for lunging. He went quietly forward in a nice working walk.

When asked, Wrangler and Chasity moved into a smart working trot. Chasity is getting better with her posture and will soon be able to keep the “Elbow Pull” loose throughout the entire workout like Wrangler does. It takes time to develop that kind of core strength in good balance!

I added the drive lines to Wrangler after successful lunging while Chasity stood by and watched. He was a bit hard to turn in his last lessons, but this time his turns were much improved. He stayed very light in my hands and moved at the touch of a finger. I made sure to use the verbal commands “Gee” (go right) and “Haw” (go left). It makes a huge difference!

Wrangler stayed calm as we walked around the Round Pen doing an occasional “S” turn through the middle to change directions.

Wrangler was much improved from his last lesson! I don’t “drill” them until they get it right. That would just make them tired and cranky…then they do not learn. I spend about 20-30 minutes on their lessons and quit when they have made an honest attempt. Wrangler came into a nice quiet halt and was rewarded.

Wrangler did a much better rein back than he had before and offered many more steps on a very light rein! I was extremely pleased with him! It was time to quit with him. I tied him outside the Round Pen so he could watch the others do their workouts…and learn to stay quietly tied… which he did!


Chasity’s First Chiropractic Adjustment 5 21 20 18

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s First Chiropractic Adjustment: 5-21-20

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Although we were working on uneven ground in Chasity’s last lesson which made getting in sync very difficult, it was clear that it was time for a chiropractic adjustment of her skeletal system. Doing chiropractic adjustments can put the practitioner in very precarious positions, so it is wise to build trust with the animal before attempting to do these kinds of adjustments to their body. After more than a month of intensive care, Chasity has learned that we have her best interest at heart and is more than willing to cooperate with anything we want to do with her. Even though she is perfect about walking in sync, it is clear that her left hip is locked up, highly immobile and chiropractic adjustment is in now desperately needed!

Chasity walked out in the driveway so our equine chiropractor, Dave McClain, could assess her condition. She had better range of motion in the right hind leg than she did with the left. She was getting better in her spine, but her abdominal muscles still needed more work. Once the left hind leg and the rest of her body is put back in alignment, there will be more of an effect on the abdominal muscles at the walk in her lessons.

Dave agreed that the fallen crest could be straightened out, but it would take some time and serious therapy. Bailey showed Dave the progress in Chasity’s Diary that had been made already since she came to us on March 29th 2020. He was pleasantly surprised at the progress we had made considering we could not use his services during the COVID-19 shutdown. But before we could go any further successfully, we really needed to have her skeleton professionally aligned!

Dave carefully palpated both hip joints…

and the pelvic area. She was exceptionally stiff and locked up on the left side! He rocked her pelvis to the right…

…and then rocked it to the left. Chasity yielded her hind leg and he adjusted the locked up hip joint! Chasity’s eyes lit up in pleasure immediately! It must have felt REALLY good!

Dave demonstrated to me how her hip joint was not only locked up, but completely misaligned and stuck at an upward angle. Chasity gladly leaned forward to aid in her spinal adjustment!

We then asked Chasity to engage her abdominal muscles, raise her back and then hold for sixty seconds. We will do this once per day, every day. Then it was time to adjust her neck, first on the left side…

…and then on the right side. She was stiff on that side, so I asked her to stretch her neck around my body.

Then Dave did a second adjustment on that side…it was much better! Dave watched her back up. There was marked improvement in her hind quarters and she was finally able to walk easily straight backwards. She had previously been very stiff through the back-through “L” obstacle during her workouts. She will no doubt do much better the next time!

We checked Chasity’s neck again and found that it, too, was much looser and not as hard and immobile as it was before the adjustments. As she left the Tack Barn, it was evident that she was moving much more freely and smiling to herself all the way back to the barn!

Lunge Line Lessons7 22 20 14

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Lunge Line Lessons: 7-22-20

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I have found that Wrangler and Chasity truly appreciate my consistent and predictable way of dealing with them. Donkeys can be very difficult sometimes, but in my experience, when they know what to expect, there is a lot less resistant behaviors. They appreciate verbal interaction and like to be told when they are doing well, and respond very well to a consistent and firm “No” when they are not doing what I ask. Donkeys do not like confusion and chaos! Lunging a donkey on a lunge line in an open area may seem like an impossible task, but when you take the time to break things down into very small steps, and do them in a logical and sequential order that they can understand, there is nothing they will not do for you. People have often told me that training donkeys is very different from training horses and mules, but I have always used the same basic approach with only a few “tweaks” here and there. I have to make those kinds of small adjustments for each individual equine anyway! So, “No,” it’s not that different!

Chasity doesn’t, but Wrangler does tend to be lazy and carry his head too low on occasion. So, when I tack him up, I add the use of the reins tied up on the saddle to encourage him to stretch and arc his back, but not to carry his head to low in the process.

The tack and equipment I use is not uncomfortable for Wrangler. It just helps him to maintain his good equine posture in an ideal balance while executing all the moves, such as the “reverse” shown here. Most disobedience is generally due to a loss of balance or just falling out of good posture!

Repetition in this tack and equipment changes their body carriage to a more ideal posture that will become their habitual way of going. This is much healthier, reduces the incidence of arthritis and allows the internal organs to operate as intended. Over the long term, this approach to training adds longevity to their use life.

I introduce the lunge line in the Round Pen so we won’t get into a pulling match. I keep it loose and only do a “squeeze-release” on the line with my fingers as the outside front foot comes forward. This becomes the “cue” to keep them on the circle in the open areas without pulling drastically on the lunge line!

Donkeys like to work with a companion, so I use a companion as much as I can. When they are all trained exactly the same way, they can help each other to do the right things while working together. When I work them on things that need to be done one at a time, I just tie the other outside the pen. They learn to stand quietly and just watch! They then learn to stand quietly anywhere without any anxiety associated with the training process.

I like my equines to be VERY LIGHT in the bridle. The equipment I use keeps them in good posture and allows me to concentrate on the symmetry and tension on the drive lines, so I do not get an over-reaction during turns, halts and rein backs. It promotes harmony between us! Wrangler stays relaxed throughout!

Chasity enjoys watching Wrangler do a halt, rein back and then they both wait quietly until I return.

Chasity waits quietly while I lead Wrangler through the gate. I always keep the ranch gate closed when I have equines tied outside of the Round Pen. With Chasity tied inside the Round Pen, Wrangler and I walk to the ranch gate at the road and open it again. I always train with safety first and a respectful, polite, considerate and consistent approach. It produces AMAZING results and HAPPY equine companions!

Circles And Stretching 5 19 20 32

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Circles and Stretching: 5-19-20

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5-19-20

Chasity is continuing to gain core strength, balance and even has a little “prance” in her step these days. The bacterial infection is almost gone and she is eagerly waiting at the stall door for her lessons each week. She gets structured leading exercises in her proper postural “gear” and in between, she has other things happening on other days like daily “soaking” of her infection, vet appointments and the farrier. Today, we will add circles at every cone to increase the intensity of her workout. Stretching is done more frequently now.

Chasity carefully walks in sync with me, no more pulling on the lead rope or charging ahead like she did in the beginning. She is happy on her way to the outdoor dressage exercise arena. Varying the location of her postural core strength leading training keeps her fresh and engaged.

On the way to the dressage arena, we stop to visit with Augie and Spuds, our delightful little mini donkeys. Chasity is intrigued. Where she is stabled, she can only hear them. Then it’s on to the dressage arena.

Since the arena is also used as a turnout area, it is a bit bumpy and the sand is deeper than the other places where Chasity has worked. It will increase the intensity of her work. Still, she is bending nicely through her rib cage while remaining erect in her body and doing her four-square stretches very well indeed!

Chasity is bending her joints well while walking in sync with me, however, I am noticing she is a bit stiff in her left hind leg, especially around the turns to the left. We added circles at every cone in the Hourglass Pattern to help to enhance her bending technique.

She steps out nicely with her right front, but as she brings the left hip forward, her gait is stilted and limited in it’s range of motion. The abdominal muscles are only moderately engaged and she stops short of reaching underneath her body to her center of gravity.

The right hind leg moves forward into it’s correct position, but she is just lifting and swinging her left hind leg forward instead of bending adequately through her joints, particularly in her hip joint.

As she steps forward with the right hind foot, the left hind has an abnormal look to the extension of the leg. It appears stuck in the hip joint and pelvic area, and is not swinging freely. Still, she is bending fairly nicely through her spine.

Another good stretch while standing four-square was in order and Chasity let me know that it felt VERY GOOD!

On straight lines with no rails, Chasity is able to reach underneath her body to the center of gravity, but going around the turns reveals some stiffness in her pelvic area while the rest of her spine bends easily.

Chasity really enjoys her stretches and does them with no problem at all. Then we begin to track in the other direction and it is clear that bending to the right is particularly difficult for her.

As we proceed around the cones to the right, her bending gets a little better and the right leg moves easily under her center of gravity. But when she approaches the rails, her pelvis appears to stiffen and inhibit her movement again.

There is plenty of “reach” in her front legs, but the rear legs do not seem to be able to consistently follow her forward movement. Her abdominal muscles are engaged and she is attempting to round her back, but her stiff pelvic area is inhibiting the ability to reach well underneath her body.

Traversing the rails is making it apparent that she should probably have a visit from our proficient equine chiropractor. Since she just arrived a short time ago, I did not think it would be prudent to expose her to chiropractic until I could loosen her stiff body a little bit and gain her trust first.

We finished traversing the rails and she had to “lean” on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her balance. She did pretty well circling to the right for the last time, but it was now clear that she would need to be adjusted with chiropractic before any further lessons could take place and be beneficial to her.

We ended the lesson with one more four-square downward stretch, then a stretch to the right…

…then she did a stretch to the left and left the arena in perfect synchonization with each other. Still, she didn’t have the “reach” behind that I thought that she should.

Just to make things a bit more interesting, we opted to investigate the lane to the small park to look at this new area. Chasity thought the steps looked particularly strange, but she was not fearful.

She navigated the steps like a champ and stood quietly while we took in the sights. She saw Robin Laws’ “Donkey Talk” to her left and J. Payne Lara’s “Love Me Tender to her right.This was a major accomplishment for Chasity since standing still was NOT something she wanted to do when she first arrived.

Then we went back up the steps, left the area and went to see the pack mules, “A Friend to Lean On” by Robin Laws. Chasity played “cute” for the camera. Then we went to see Bonnie Shields’ “Friends,” a bronze statue of Kylie, Moxie and Jasper from our children’s series. As you can see, her posture is greatly improved…the “Elbow Pull” is staying LOOSE most of the time now!








































Chasity’s Spring Walk4 21 20 3

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s Spring Walk: 4-21-20

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4-21-20

It was a gorgeous spring day and I was so pleased when Chasity came right to the door to meet me again as she had been doing consistently after only two lessons in her initial training. As I cleaned her nostrils and smelled the clean spring air, I thought it might be nice to forego the indoor arena lessons and go out and enjoy this lovely spring weather. Sometimes just doing things a little differently with the same basic lessons can give you both a new perspective on training and make it a lot more fun!

It is shedding season and the multi-bristled human hairbrush was doing its job of removing the excess hair and aerating her coat. Then, I added a sprinkle of Johnson’s baby oil to her mane and tail while she stood stock still! She was definitely learning to enjoy our time together and her friends in the barn were forgotten for the moment.

As I got her tacked up in her gear, I chatted with Chasity and told her I thought we would go for a walk outside today. She thought it would be a great idea! I noticed that her cresty neck was decreasing in size… very slowly. I put on her surcingle and only took it up a bit so it wouldn’t be too tight at the start.

I put on the bridle carefully over her ears, adjusted the “Elbow Pull” and put on her neck sweat. She even helped a bit by lowering her head. Then I did a last check on the girth of the surcingle.

I quickly washed her brushes and we were on our way down the road! Chasity was very excited!

Our first encounter was the Lucky Three Ciji Side Saddle Champion statue. And then the Lucky Three Mae  Bea C.T. Combined Training Champion statue. Chasity was fearless and very curious about them!

She met the fountain statue, “Dreaming of Friends” and another “Lucky Three Ciji” statue.

She wasn’t sure about “Lasagna” lying at the base of the cottonwood tree, but she loved the OLD WESTERN TOWN that was in construction!

During the course of the walk, we made gradual turns, straight lines and squared up at the halt at several intervals to continue her lessons in core strength and good posture. I noticed a lot of improvement in her back and her abs! She told me she thought the MULE CROSSING sign should say DONKEY CROSSING, but she posed nicely anyway!

When we got back to the work station, we did a couple of stretching exercises for her neck in one direction only, since doing them the other way would only exacerbate the present condition. When we get more of the fat off her crest, the stretches will have value in both directions.

When we were finished, we went back to her stall. She was “sent” into the stall, turned around to face me to get her halter removed and received her just reward! It was a great day!

WRANGLER’S NEW LOVE3 30 2018

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s New Love!

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3-30-20

Wrangler came to us in 2017 and has had to be in turnout by himself because he was so rambunctious that he didn’t really fit into any of our turnout groups. He was always turned out next to “friend” like Sir Guy but never with anyone else. Mr. Moon was his stable buddy, but still, there was always a run fence between them. Mr. Moon recently turned 32 years old and developed a condition that required that he be put down. Wrangler’s “stable buddy” was now gone.

With the empty stall and run next to Wrangler, we now had space to consider getting him a new companion. I checked with my friend in Oklahoma and we found Chasity! What a lovely “Lady!” I was told she was a really FORWARD moving jennet with a lot of independence and enthusiasm. We thought she would be the perfect companion for Wrangler!

Chasity was delivered on 3-30-20 and the introductions began while she was in quarantine in a space where she could see Wrangler, but they could not reach each other. They played with excitement back and forth along the fence line for a bit! They were clearly VERY interested in each other! Love had begun to blossom!

The next day the vet came to do a health check on Chasity. She will need a lot of core strength work, but it will be a good thing to keep her occupied while she is in quarantine. Wrangler looked on with interest as the vet surveyed her condition. Two months passed before Chasity was finally put in Mr. Moon’s stall and run next to Wrangler…they eyed each other suspiciously…this was a lot closer than they had previously been!

Wrangler stuck his head through the panels to sniff and Chasity looked interested, then decided to play shy!

This only frustrated Wrangler and he began some very active male donkey antics which spooked her away from him.

She returned only to be spooked away again while Wrangler continued his antics and embarrassed himself by tripping!

Chasity thought maybe NOW he would calm down and Wrangler started up AGAIN! She thought…REALLY?!!!

I called Wrangler over and had a little talk with him about good manners and being polite to young ladies. He seemed to listen and said he was sorry. Chasity wasn’t sure if she believed him!

But after receiving their crimped oats reward for settling down…all was GOOD!!!

Tacking Up Appropriately 4 14 209

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Tacking Up Appropriately: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

Selecting the right tack for your Longears is essential to success. I rigged a cob-sized English bridle for Chasity with a pony Eggbutt snaffle bit (4 ½-inch), an over-sized Warmblood brow band to accommodate her wider forehead and not pinch her ears, and normal nose band with an “O” ring installed underneath with a lead rope attached. The “Elbow Pull” is the correct length and is put in place over the crown piece of the bridle and wrapped with a halter fleece to prevent rubbing on her poll. She will begin her postural core strength leading exercises to correct her unbalanced posture, her lordosis (sway back) and the enlarged fat roll across her neck.

When first putting on the light-weight surcingle, I loosely tighten the girth at first to allow her to get used to the pressure around her middle.

Then, of course, a reward for standing still is in order and very much appreciated. And it’s always nice to receive a loving donkey head-hug!

After this appropriate show of affection, I politely ask her if she is ready to accept the bridle. Chasity truly appreciates my consideration for her.

When I put on the bridle, I make sure that her ears are protected as I pull the crown piece over her ears by covering them with the palm of my hand. Then, when it is in place, I just pull my hand away from it’s position. I center the “O” ring and lead rope underneath her chin and snugly tighten the nose band.

With Chasity’s enlarged neck, I felt it would be beneficial to use a neck sweat to help to shrink the fatty deposits along her crest during her workout. I then took up more slack on the surcingle girth and loosely adjusted the “Elbow Pull” on the right side.

Next, I went around to the left side to adjust the tension on the “Elbow Pull.” Next, I went to the front, straightened her head in alignment with her spine, and checked to make sure that she could not raise her head high enough to invert her neck and back. It is tight enough to encourage her to use her abs, and raise her back. This positively affects her sloppy tendency to relax her sway back and will bring it into proper posture.

Now we are prepared to begin work in the Hourglass Pattern in the indoor arena. We begin to walk in sync.

After the workout, we go back to the designated work station to untack. I carefully remove her bridle, sliding it over her ears with one pass, lifting it upward as it goes over the ears. Then I remove the surcingle and neck sweat, and give her a generous reward for her cooperation.

The next step is to take the tack into the tack room, wipe it down and wash the bit before hanging it back up on the wall. Taking care of your tack and equipment in this manner prevents dirt build-up, chafing on the animal and weakened tack and equipment. Then, once a month, we spend time in the tack room going over all of the tack and equipment with Leathernew™  to keep it all in good condition. The cabinets where we store harness is lined with cedar to prevent mold and mildew. Once everything is back in place, I return Chasity to her stall and run. When your tack and equipment fits properly and is appropriate for the activity, it promotes success and enhances your experience together!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Obstacles for Coordination: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

After doing her Hourglass Pattern exercises, first one way and then the other, we opted to add some variety to the workout by adding some straight forward obstacles. In our indoor arena, I have an open space of 60’ X 120’ and a 45’ round pen at the end of the arena in another 60’ X 60’ fenced off space. Around the outside perimeter of the round pen in that area, I put my obstacles. I have found that there is less margin of error learning obstacles in a confined space to add coordination to their core strength in good equine posture. They can learn to pay more attention and to be more meticulous in their execution of the obstacles. This is a helpful way to begin with obstacles. The first obstacle for Chasity was the gate!

After going through the gate and standing stock still while I latched it, we proceeded to the bridge. I was pleasantly surprised when she allowed me to stop her with only her front feet on the bridge. This is generally a Stage Two move in my program since obstacles are used for coordination. Most equines are so uncoordinated that they just want to keep walking over and through the obstacles without stopping at first. Good for Chasity!

Chasity then carefully walked up onto the bridge with all four feet and halted on command! This was going much better than I had expected!

When I asked her to square up, she got a bit skewed to the side on the bridge, but she was nevertheless squared up, just not in line with the bridge. So I took it and rewarded her effort.We can do better the next time.

Then we got off the bridge and I squared her up again. Then…I introduced her to the tractor tire.

She looked at it…wasn’t afraid of it…walked around it…

…and looked at it again. She was clearly NOT going to put her foot in the middle of that tire! I decided to quit while we were ahead and try again next time. Because I didn’t push her, she consented to walking through the smaller tires…

…tentatively, but she did it! And then she walked around the barrels with no trouble at all!

Just having Chasity navigate these obstacles without being afraid of them was a major accomplishment. We then walked into the back-through “L” and I decided to make it a little bit tougher.

After walking through the “L” forward, I asked Chasity to back through where she had come.

She was a bit perplexed, but slowly backed between the rails, made the turn at the elbow, and went straight back from there with very little forcible encouragement.

Once at the end of the back-through “L,” we headed for the tarp. She followed me obediently, but was so silly…

When we got to the tarp, she wanted to walk EXACTLY where I walked! I guess she KNEW it was safe there! Too funny!

I gave her a reward because she really didn’t balk and we proceeded out of the obstacle area.

As we left, we executed the gate correctly and she was rewarded again. She stood quietly until I was ready to move.

Then we proceeded down the arena wall towards the exit gate and stopped to turn off the lights. She was a little surprised that the wall opened up, but stood still while I opened the door and turned off the lights.

Then I closed the door and we exited the arena. Adding obstacles and simple expectations to her regular work in the Hourglass Pattern made the experience more interesting and engaging to Chasity. When you add new things to their lessons, you shouldn’t feel like the equine has to do it right the first time. Just quit while you are ahead and your equine WILL do better the next time! There is no battle to remember!

Beginning by negotiating obstacles in larger areas makes for a larger margin for error. Too many things can go wrong and lead to an unpleasant chain of negative events that suck you and your equine into unnecessary altercations. There is plenty of time to do them in the more open spaces once they have learned how to negotiate them in the smaller spaces. I first school green animals during ground driving and under saddle in the small open area of my indoor arena (60’ X 120” – Standard Small Dressage Arena Size) before I take them into the larger outside arenas. This has resulted in a decrease of bolting and running. When you set up your training environment, it is always optimal to set up the equine for success!

LMVAugieSpuds

Longears Music Videos: Spa Day: Miniature Donkeys Augie and Spuds

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See more Longears Music Videos

CHASITYS CHALLENGES 4 14 20 Grooming7

Chasity’s Challenges: Grooming Routine: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

Grooming is an important activity in your equine’s life and it need not be a struggle if it is done regularly. Chasity was not real sure of us, or what to expect when she first arrived, but she is gaining confidence and calmness with each grooming session that precedes her workouts. Right off, she is rewarded for going to her designated work station. This familiarity sets the stage for the tasks to come.

I begin with a wet towel to clean her eyes, then her nose and finally her ears. When cleaning the ears, I stroke upwards with the hair and try not to go against the way it grows. Most Longears enjoy having their ears rubbed anyway, but HOW you do it can make a huge difference in their willingness to comply.

Then I begin on her forehead and along her neck with a human, multi-bristled plastic hairbrush. If she had mud on her, I would have scraped that off with the shedding blade first. The human hairbrush is much more effective in getting deep into thick donkey and mule hair and will “aerate” the coat nicely where the shedding blade will only skim the top and often break the hair.

Chasity’s teats were as hard as a rock, but were draining a milky-looking substance. At first we thought she had just weaned a foal, but we found out later, that was not the case. At any rate, during grooming, I scraped the sticky drainage from her back legs. Then I discovered some crusty spots across her chest that resembled an old bot-hatching site that had not been addressed.

I used the shedding blade to scrape off the scabs and applied Neosporin to the area. Over several days now, the scabs are beginning to go away. Chasity enjoyed the scratching! They must have been itchy!

Chasity has an enlarged, crested neck and fatty deposits over her body that will need some attention. The crest has fallen over quite a bit, but I do think it is salvagable. It will just take the right kind of feed and exercise, and some time to correct.

On her withers, Chasity has some scarring where the saddles previously used on her were rubbing and turned the hair white. She is also sporting a bit of Lordosis (sway-backed) which should not be seen in an animal of her young age of 13 years. This will undoubtedly result in irregular movement when seeing how out of alignment her spine is with these issues. Equines are not designed to carry weight on top. Rather, their structure supports carrying their weight below the spine. This is why is is so important to pay attention to core exercises to strengthen the top line and abs to prepare to support the rider’s weight. Just because they are big animals doesn’t mean they can automatically carry our weight without undue stress on their bodies.

The crusty discharge on her legs is very sticky, so I sharpen my shedding blade before going after it. It is going to pull the hairs hard enough as it is. I want the shedding blade sharp so it will come off quickly and with as little pain as possible. Chasity appreciates my consideration for her!

Last, but certainly not least, I sprinkle Johnson’s Baby oil in her mane and tail. This protects the hair from drying out during inclement weather, will promote growth and keep other animals from chewing on it. Then I square Chasity up one more time in preparation for either tacking up or for leaving the work station. Although this all seems simple enough, keeping this routine weekly will keep things from getting out of hand and grooming will remain easy each time. A reward of crimped oats from the fanny pack around my waist is always in order for standing quietly in good posture!

If you have multiple animals, just take your grooming tools in a bucket and your fanny pack full of oats with you to their stalls and do them there. If they are all in one pen in a herd situation, do not wear your fanny pack until they can all be rewarded at the same time, at the end of grooming. Body clipping is not a healthy solution and should only be done when showing. During shedding season, it is impossible to get it all done at once and still keep the hair coat healthy. It is easier if you do it weekly and take off the excess hair gradually. When grooming is done regularly and goes easily, it greatly reduces anxiety and bad behaviors.

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Wrangler’s Donkey Diary: Second Lesson Day

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Even though Wrangler is nearing ten years old in this post, and has been ridden before, my approach to training is always the same way with all of my animals…as if they have never been trained. They need the highly structured Core Strength Leading Exercises in the Hourglass Pattern first, followed by adding Coordination over and through obstacles, straight through them to oversome fear and build confidence, and later, broken down into very small Balancing tasks. Once they have solidified their good posture and ideal body carriage, only then are they ready to begin work in the Round Pen. Wrangler completed his Leading Exercises in the Hourglass Pattern and will do more work there, but for the sake of variety to his routine, I opted to graduate him to some work in the Round Pen. In this post, you will also see how we deal with spring shedding effectively and how we get tack and equipment to fit nicely for good health and optimum performance.

Simple hairbrush bristles remove more undercoat

 

The loose hair on top scrapes off easily

 

Place girth 4 inches from forearm

 

Lossen crupper strap & insert tail

 

Adjust snugly, but not tight

 

Much improved walking in sync

 

Proper turn through the gate

 

More impulsion & flexibility at walk left

 

First offer to trot easily

 

Begin reverse

 

Improved posture & balance at walk right

 

Offer to trot right

 

Hindquarter engagement before halt

 

Improved in sync back to work station

 

Slide saddle back to loosen crupper – learns to stand quietly

 

Remove saddle

Bristles are longer which is enough to get it all

 

No more shedding blade hair breakage

 

Adjust back girth snug enough to hold the saddle down

 

Scratch rear for relaxation of the tail

 

Place saddle over the center of balance

 

Patient while opening gate

 

Improved gate posture

 

Improved posture & balance at walk left

 

Beginning to find his balance

 

Complete reverse on correct pivot foot

 

Improved posture & balance at walk right

 

Finding balance at trot right

 

We did GOOD!

 

Remove bridle & put on halter

 

Slide crupper off tail

 

Back to the barn IN SYNC!

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