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Moving Yards... Part One

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Jenni Nellist Animal Behaviourist Horses Translated Blog Moving Yards Herd

So here we go again, another change in my circumstances and my horses are affected. No drama for my part, I’m moving to South Gower with my family to spend even more time in an area where we already spend a lot of time. Good news for us!

Penny and Bronwen don’t know it yet, but I have arranged a field for them in reasonable walking distance from where I’m living so I can spend more time with them. I’m sure they will like the field. It’s not been touched by anything except sheep, and that was some time ago. There is plenty for them to eat, and plenty of variety so they can forage away to their hearts’ content (it will be fun to get an Equicentral system going). It’s a pretty dry field in relatively windswept location, so the midges that cause their sweet itch shouldn’t be a significant issue. Only thing is, they’ll be leaving the rest of their group, Millie, Asil, Kahli and Hope who they have been living with for nearly four years (OK, Hope came later). I think they’ll miss them and being in a bigger group. The picture at the top of the page shows Bron grazing this morning while some of the others took a nap.

Penny is now 19 years old, and Bron is 9. They’ve been together for the last 5 years, and have been through 3 previous house moves in that time. They groom together often so most likely they will settle in to their new arrangements pretty soon.

Penny has moved yard a total of 16 times since I bought her as a two year old. We last practiced loading two years ago and she was loving going in the trailer for pony cubes. I don’t have a trailer but I’ll be using a similar one tomorrow, so I think a little recap of that activity before we drive will have her in the best place she can be to travel 30 minutes down the road. I’m counting on Anthony’s brother being careful with his right foot! To be fair he did one of her longer journeys when she was 6 years old, including us getting lost around the Vale of Glamorgan, so I’m sure that part will be fine. We shouldn’t be able to get lost tomorrow at least…

Bronwen on the other hand associates being trapped in small spaces like trailers with being weaned and sent to the mart. To prime her for thinking the best rather than the worst tomorrow I used some ConfidenceEQ (equine appeasing pheromone), to promote feelings of love and security. That plus a belly full of fresh grass, we then did some quick work with her target and clicker to prepare her for the feared elements of travelling tomorrow: Crossing over funny flooring (a tarp), and walking into enclosed spaces, a garage, between a horse trailer (not the one I’m using tomorrow) and a wall, and between a silage bale and a wall. She got into the activity straight away so I’m encouraged – now and then we go explore the garage and the narrow gaps anyway, without the target, clicker or food. We don’t do target and clicker work that often, as most things we do don’t require that support. However, we don’t have the facility to explore the trailer like the gaps around the yard, so today’s unexpected, pleasurable experience will hopefully be the one she draws on tomorrow. She certainly hung around hoping for a little more before rejoining her gang.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

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