Feets and Cuddles!

Mostly cuddles.
Mostly cuddles.

Emilie is usually cool-headed but there is one thing that used to reduce her to a sweating, shaking wreck: The dreaded hoofpick. We’ve been training, patiently, for two months now, and with the help of our brave barefoot trimmer, Kimmie, cleaning feet is no longer a highly traumatic experience.

I don’t know what caused this anxiety. When we purchased Emilie we were warned that she had not yet learned to lift her feet properly. We were going to train it, but then she had her colic surgery and we had to wait for that 60 cm incision to be properly healed before we started doing difficult work that requires standing on three legs for a while.

Once we did get started it became very obvious that her refusal was not obstinacy or annoyance: She was afraid of being held and losing her balance, causing her to fall. She actually fell. Twice.

We’ve got a working arrangement now. Using positive reinforcement training, patience, and observing her reactions, we have now reached a point where a tap on the front of the knee means that she will lift her hoof — and then we’re allowed to do whatever we want to it as long as we don’t take hold of it. She holds the leg. No feeling of being trapped or restrained.

Moreover she needs regular breaks — a minute at a time with a foot up, tops. Again, not out of obstinacy but due to hip trouble that she likely acquired during surgery (turn a horse over, haul it up in chains around the legs, no wonder …). We’re calling in a chiropractor to sort those issues out, and I expect that once they’re dealt with, she’ll cease demanding breaks.

It’s amazing what patience, grass pills, and lots of praise can do.

Bonus: Positive reinforcement works both ways. As the picture shows, she’s taught me how to give the best chest and neck rubs. And my reward is that she returns them.

Agility at Pitt Stop!

Yesterday we drove down to spectate at Pitt Stop’s first agility meet. It was awesome! The weather was being extremely Danish, sunshine alternating with heavy showers, and the light was not friendly to my camera — but all the same, I captured some moments in time that are worth sharing. If only my camera had not run out of battery half way through!

A view of the agility course. And the cloudscape. Such odd weather!
A view of the agility course. And the cloudscape. Such odd weather!
Jutland drafts also come in black.
Jutland drafts also come in black.
This Shire knows what carrots are for.
This Shire knows what carrots are for.
Gotta hand it to the Shires, they're TALL. Of course, this guy is current the tallest Shire in Denmark.
Gotta hand it to the Shires, they’re TALL. Of course, this guy is currently the tallest Shire in Denmark.
This stallion is one of the most gorgeous horses I have ever seen. If I ever change my mind on Emilie having babies ...
This fellow is one of the most gorgeous horses I have ever seen. If I ever change my mind on Emilie having babies … (I’d need to un-geld him first, of course).
Seriously. Look at that horse. He is gorgeous.
Seriously. Look at that horse. He is gorgeous.
<3
<3
Bloody tall Shires.
Bloody tall Shires.
Not every horse was a gazillion hands tall, of course.
Not every horse was a gazillion hands tall, of course.
Gorgeous and interested, what's not to love?
Gorgeous and interested, what’s not to love?
Interestingly, the idea of pushing the yoga ball ahead of themselves was a very challenging obstacle to most of the attendees.
Interestingly, the idea of pushing the yoga ball ahead of themselves was a very challenging obstacle to most of the attendees.
This little Shetland mare was the embodiment of alert and attentive all the way through.
This little Shetland mare was the embodiment of alert and attentive all the way through.
It -was- a very challenging ball.
It was a very challenging ball.
This lady impressed me. She lead her Icelandic horse with just a halter and her voice. No stick, no rope halter, no nothing. Just patiently explaining to him what to do, even when he was clearly worried.
This lady impressed me. She lead her Icelandic horse with just a halter and her voice. No stick, no rope halter, no nothing. Just patiently explaining to him what to do, even when he was clearly worried.
These two kids faced the challenge and aced it.
These two kids faced the challenge and aced it.
Meet young stallion Michael. Michael liked sucking on my fingers.
Meet young man Michael. Michael liked sucking on my fingers.

Edit: Someone told me Thor and Michael are stallions. They are not. But they’re still big, red, and sexy.

Pretty Lady!

Rock that plait!
Rock that plait!

Emilie is still a very pretty horse. Even when she’s being silly about her feet that are badly in need of a trim. We’re pushing her on the subject these days — need to be ready and willing for the farrier next week.

Once she’s no longer lame we get started on balancing work because she’s really worried about tripping or falling over while lifting feet.

Emilie is a Very Beautiful Lady

Louise Jæger and Karoline Ragnar did another photoshoot of Emilie today. And, like two years ago, they neglected to tell me first — so this was quite the pleasant surprise!

I’m amazed at how beautiful that horse is.

Attentive, alert, unfazed by first trip to the field.
Attentive, alert, unfazed by first trip to the field.
Not sure what Emilie just said to Karoline, but it was clearly a contestant for the joke of the year award.
Not sure what Emilie just said to Karoline, but it was clearly a contestant for the joke of the year award.
Can't really tell that six months ago, this horse nearly died from colic, can you?
Can’t really tell that six months ago, this horse nearly died from colic, can you?
Such a big world out there to explore.
Such a big world out there to explore.
Getting artsy-fartsy with the indoors arena. Actually very hard to get decent shots in there due to darkness and dust.
Getting artsy-fartsy with the indoors arena. Actually very hard to get decent shots in there due to darkness and dust.
I'm kind of glad I'm not the one who had to do all those braids.
I’m kind of glad I’m not the one who had to do all those braids.
Dare to be cray cray!
Dare to be cray cray!
Just so damn pretty.
Just so damn pretty.
Seriously, all those braids.
Seriously, all those braids.
First trip down the road proper. Ooh, things to 'splore.
First trip down the road proper. Ooh, things to ‘splore.
She may not be in top shape, but she's still bloody fine built.
She may not be in top shape, but she’s still bloody fine built.
So very pretty, so very, very pretty.
So very pretty, so very, very pretty.

Photograph Madness!

Every horse person knows that person who takes great pictures. In this case, Louise Jäger took her fancy camera out for a spin, and these are the best picks of the crop!

 

Emilie does what she does best: Look pretty.
Emilie does what she does best: Look pretty.
Don't let them tell you that heavy draft horses cannot run. Emilie loves to run.
Don’t let them tell you that heavy draft horses cannot run. Emilie loves to run.
She's not run me down yet. Yet.
She’s not run me down yet. Yet.
So pretty with her ribbon.
So pretty with her ribbon.
I admit it, I am in love with this gentle giant princess.
I admit it, I am in love with this gentle giant princess.
Can you blame me, though?
Can you blame me, though?
Little horse, little rider. Maya and Cassie pose for the camera.
Little horse, little rider. Maya and Cassie pose for the camera.
Lucia's pose may need some work though.
Lucia’s pose may need some work though.
This time of year is the very best for girls and horses that like speed.
This time of year is the very best for girls and horses that like speed.
Speed, and fooling around.
Speed, and fooling around.
Adventure time!
Adventure time!
Yeeeeeeehaw!
Yeeeeeeehaw!

All pictures copyright 2017 Louise Jäger.

For a couple of other Louise shoots, check these links:

Photoshoot: Grandezza & Pilar

Pretty in Pink