|Arrival! It was almost dark and my phone camera is not working well.|
We returned to pick up the horses from Wind Hill Farm as soon as the U-haul was unloaded and returned. We also hurried a little bit to as another weather front was coming in the next day. While moving our household goods we got to experience sitting on the 401 for 2 hours with the U-Haul due to multiple crashes during ice-snow road conditions. Once we started moving again I even saw a truck that was a little too eager to get moving fish-tail through all the lanes of the highway and end-up in a snowbank on the side (he was ok, but I am sure glad I was behind him and not beside!) I did not want to drive the horses in those conditions so we made sure it was a safe day for hauling!
All went smooth, we picked the horses up at Wind Hill a little before lunch then headed to the border. Customs examined our coggins tests and healthy certificates fairly quickly (thankfully), but apparently horses are excluded from the tax-free list of goods for new immigrants. This meant we unexpectedly owed about $400 in taxes, based on declared value of the horses, to import the horses. Good thing both horses are relatively low $$ value horses! (especially compared to fancy show or race horses!). After that small surprise, we continued on the way and arrived at Cayuse Creek Ranch in about 3 hrs. Check out Sonny and Rogan's new home: https://www.gannydistancerides.com/ owned by Bob Coleman and Michelle Bignell, both accomplished endurance riders. Cayuse Creek is adjacent to the 11,00 acre Ganaraska Forest, with 400 miles of trails (no more hauling out for conditioning!!!). It also has a new indoor arena with clear plexi-glass in the side walls which lets loads of wonderful natural light inside! The indoor is absolutely necessary for winter riding as the outside footing is generally to icy to safely ride this time of year.
The horses live outside, where they are happiest, with run-in sheds and round bales available 24-7. Rogan and Sonny are currently in their own paddock for initial quarantine and the winter. Once spring comes the gate is opened and they have access to grassy fields. There are stalls available for temporary use (feeding, medical needs, etc) and each boarder takes care of their own feeding as desired. I like this arrangement as I tend to be particular (LOL!) and can modify/arrange my feeding as I see fit!
|Sonny laying down in the wonderful sand! (and please excuse my poorly functioning camera! The blinding white is all the lovely natural light coming through the clear arena walls!)|
|Rogan laying down|
The other absolutely fantastic part of having a real arena is SAND!! I have always wanted my horses to lay down on que, but have never been able to achieve it. A horse has to offer a behavior in order for you to shape it and relate it to a que (unless you want to use ropes or something else which is not my approach). In West Virginia, I had shale, firm stone dust, and a little grass -- nothing consistently desirable to lay down and roll in! Now the horses live in a icy-snowy paddock and I take them into an amazing sandbox, they love it! Both horses have figured out to ask questions and watch me closely, so when I 'pawed', they pawed and quickly got a treat. After they pawed they thought it might be fun to roll! When they layed down to roll they got the mother-load of carrots 😊 That stuck! - especially for Rogan. He more than knows that treats are related to a behavior he offered (ie he will pick things up and hand them to you all the time, in exchange for a cookie). I did remember to dig out the clicker (which they also have previously learned, click = desired behavior = cookie). The clicker helps me pinpoint the exact behavior I am rewarding, so it helps the horses figure out the puzzle a little easier. Rogan is starting to really understand, but he tries to see how little he can do and still get a cookie, so he will paw and look at me or bend his legs as if laying down then look at me. It is very cute, but while I initially rewarded the small tries, I now stand patiently and just watch him and eventually he fully lays down. Sonny is also understanding, but first I have to ensure is relaxed, either through connecting groundwork or having Rogan nearby. The downside to all this is all my equipment now is covered in fine arena sand, definitely will have to wash my pads and girth before an endurance ride!
I am enjoying the slow, bonding time that arena play allows, but am also looking forward to checking out all the trails this spring! I am hopeful that my improving connection with Sonny will carry over to training rides and competition too!