Rocky is a Left Brained Introvert who gets bored easily. Early in our horse-human partnership journey, I learned that Rocky hates repetition and quickly gets bored if I don’t switch activities or add something different to make the same activity more interesting. The only exception to this Rocky rule is activities that involve food. I am trying to learn to be more provocative and find more interesting things for us to do. I am not a creative person and have to work really hard to think of new challenging games for us to play or ways to add variety to the games we routinely play.
Rocky’s barnyard pen is filled with living obstacles that have their own agendas. Now that the daytime temperatures are nearing 100 degrees again in North Texas, the barnyard animals hide in the shade during the hottest part of the day and come out to eat and play as the sun goes down. As a working Mom, this is also the time that I come out to play with Rocky. Last night, his pen was full of chickens, ducks, geese, and cats. You may have seen many of these barnyard characters running around on my Level 3 youtube audition videos. Every day, these barnyard animals present natural opportunities for new and different experiences.
The barnyard fowl come out in the cooler evening hours to eat the plants and bugs that grow and live around the obstacles and the fence. One of the barnyard cats is lounging on the mounting block with her kittens. All of these barnyard animals make it very difficult to ride along the fence, sideways over the poles, use the jump, stand on the pedestal, or walk around the PVC turn style. Rocky isn’t afraid of the barnyard animals and they have become accustomed to hanging out in the pen with him.
Rocky is bored and I am tired after a long day. Our energy is sapped by the hot and humid weather. It is the perfect weather to be lazy. Neither one of us really wants to do anything that requires a lot of energy. There isn’t any grass for a grazing ride and even if there was, Rocky is still on his diet so I would have to limit Rocky’s grazing time. Rocky’s pen has weeds that he doesn’t like to eat but the barnyard fowl like the weeds and the bugs feasting on them.
My current riding objectives are to improve my riding balance, keep a distant focus while riding, and practice using my body language to communicate (eyes, belly button, legs, and finally reins) with Rocky. I have participated in Christi Rains camps where we simulated herding cows and that is always a fun activity. I decided we could try to herd the barnyard fowl in Rocky’s pen.
The ducks leave the pen the minute we try some herding activities. The chickens also leave the pen when Rocky approaches them. The geese have a totally different reaction. They weave around obstacles and all over the pen as they try to avoid Rocky’s advances without leaving the pen and their tasty evening meal.
I’m sure we were quite a sight to see. I was riding bareback with a savvy string around Rocky’s neck. I worked really hard to use my body to turn Rocky to herd the geese while trying to take pictures with the cell phone in one hand and trying not to use the savvy string reins with the other hand. Rocky really got into the geese herding game and did some herding with very little direction from me. After a few minutes, we let the geese resume their evening meal. Rocky and I had a lot of fun. Note that I always wear a helmet for safety, even in Rocky’s small pen, and no barnyard creatures were harmed by our new game.