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Eric Hought

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The time has come to introduce the hobbles to Tempest. Her body has matured greatly since the month of May. Her attitude is somewhat like a teenager. That kind of sums it up.

The daily ritual of being saddled and standing tied for at least an hour before the ride has paid off greatly. She stands still while mounting and doesn't move while I position my legs and reins. She understands that she is to wait. But, my saddling area is tight so it doesn't allow for much movement of the horse. The problem is that she moves around when I place the saddle pad and saddle. Its inconvenient for me, wastes time and its a bad habit.

Solution: Hobbles. I will put hobbles on her first in a controlled situation. She will have just a halter on and in either a grassy or soft dirt area.

I have seen other people put hobbles on the horse and turn them loose in a corral or arena. Wrong!
I am sure you have seen what happens. The horse usually will almost immediately learn how to run with them or they stumble into a leap. I cringe when I see this. Answer. I position the hobbles, step back and hold the lead rope. I don't let them get into a storm. They will leap, stumble and lurch. I pull them to me and say, Whoa! You have to be careful because they can come straight to you and land in your pocket. So, agility on my part, is real important. But, I can keep them from getting up speed and crashing.

Once they stop I allow them to settle. What they have learned is that no movement is safe. At this point I extend the no movement by keeping slack in the rope and pat them on both sides. Cool, maybe three to four minutes. Watch for a sigh, relaxing and licking her lips.

Now I can get on the end of the rope to one side. By gently pulling on the rope, her head will come but not her feet. She wants to be comfortable and stumbling around is uncomfortable. What she will do is step with her hips to enable her to keep facing me. She will also take tiny steps with her front feet so that she doesn't have to tighten the hobbles and start a storm. She has it figured out now.

Every time that I saddle or unsaddle her from now on, I will hobble her which will teach her to stand still. This could save her life some day should she get her front feet in wire or branches she will know still is safe.

When I was a kid, just the other day, grin, I had an old albino gelding. He didn't come as usual one night for feed so I went over to him. He was standing like a statue because his feet were stuck in some box wire fencing. I cut him out with some cutters and he sauntered to the barn to eat.

The main thing that I do when I hobble one for the first time is to make sure that I can be in control. I also don't put myself in a place that the horse can get me by mistake. If you do this with care and use your head, you should be able to stay in good shape. The horse will get into a storm but you can minimize it. Stay in control.

 2/18/02 - JUST WORK

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