Do you & your horses ever play with those giant balls?

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Do you & your horses ever play with those giant balls?

Postby Juliane on Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:31 pm

When I went to the Colt Starting Clinic back in August, I got to play with one of those huge balls for the first time. It was the coolest thing, to be able to bounce this ball that was half the size of me, letting it bump up against Ace, asking him to push it around, etc. It seemed like a really great way to desensitize a horse to touch and quick movements, while keeping you safe.

I finally found one online and purchased it. We've been playing with it with all the horses and have been amused by the different responses we've gotten.

Baby has a very high play drive, though only gets limited time with the ball, as I believe he'd trash it within a very short time. These balls are pretty heavy duty, but Baby is known to put his front leg and hoof through the round pen rails just for giggles!

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Class was cute when Cassidy tried to introduce her to the bouncing ball. She politely sniffed it, pushed it around and then immediately went back to eating. She couldn't care less when Cassidy rolled it past her, bounced it against her or even tossed it over her back! LOL

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When I introduced Dandy to it, she was certain it was going to eat her whole. She wouldn't let me get near her when working at liberty, and since we were running out of daylight, I put her halter on and 'forced' her to tolerate the ball. She pretty quickly settled down, but still couldn't understand why I was bouncing this big noisy thing so close to her.

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Mandy played with the ball with B, who wasn't nearly as worried about it as I expected him to be. He kind of snorted, had some big ol' wide eyes, but tolerated Mandy's antics for the most part. He's such a big teddy bear!

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Cassidy decided to see if she could get Sweetie to move the ball around while riding her. Sweetie couldn't care less about the ball and moved it around for Cassidy.

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However, you should have seen the crazy competitive streak that Sweetie and Cassidy got when Mandy decided to play soccer with the ball and try to steal it away from Cassidy! Check out that piranha pony! ROFL

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I highly recommend one of these balls to anyone who wants to spice up their training tools. They are loads of fun to play with, and the horses seem to enjoy them too!
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Postby cat_67 on Sun Oct 28, 2007 5:49 am

ROTFL!

Have you tried working Sweetie on cows? I wonder if she'd just go get 'em like Dandy? I've seen lots of kids Cassidy's age at team sorting.
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Postby LorsaDoon on Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:26 pm

I have a big beach ball that I got at the store. I think it is going on its second year. It is a heavy guage plastic/rubber type ball.
I leave it in the fields. Moving it from field to field. Dancer is the only one I really see moving it around much.

That ball you have is awesome though. I may have to get one of those for my almost done, round pen.
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Postby busted on Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:18 pm

We have one of the Jolly balls at the barn and the barn owner will put in the round pen for the horse that gets turned out in it to play with. When I put my filly Ally in there with the ball she freaked out. I kicked it at her and she went over back wards trying to get away from it. So we put it in her pasture and she will push it with her nose but would rather play in the mud puddles. I want to get a bigger ball to play with but dont have anywhere to store it at the barn. Guess I could get a blow up cheap beach ball to play with to see what she does. We really need to work on her manners and desensitize her to everything all over again. Crazy 2 year olds, thinking that everything is out to eat them. :roll:
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Fun with the ball continues...

Postby myhorsefaith on Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:31 am

Thought I would add to the "ball" thread...OMG...Juliane brought the ball to Arciniega yesterday. Ernie, a horse I am rehabbing, had a BLAST with it. Julie and I just about died laughing while watching his antics. He did NOT need us to help him play.

The photos and video are dark, but just follow the ball and the black blob pushing it. :lol:

http://www.serenitytraining.com/blogima ... -20-08.wmv

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Postby Juliane on Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:44 am

Oh my gosh - I had tears rolling down my face yesterday as I laughed hysterically, watching Ernie have so much fun with the ball. Some of the horses here have been playful with the ball, but never like Ernie! I wish the video turned out better - but almost as funny as the video is listening to Ally and I laugh like hyenas! :P
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Postby ptownevt on Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:21 pm

Ernie is so beautiful. Tell us about him, please.
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Postby myhorsefaith on Mon Jan 21, 2008 6:45 pm

Ohh Ernie..where to start? :(

He's my friend's horse- the woman who is currently keeping Cabo for me. He's a 10 yr old Tb/paint cross, 16.3 hh.

Ernie has had a rather sordid past. He was an auction-purchase at 3-4, by a man who wanted to make a barrel horse out of him. His personality is a mix of sensitive AND dominant- he gets scared at the slightest thing but will fight to the death if challenged. This wasn't a very good match for his owner, who taught him inadvertently that it was OK to freak out and break things- ties, crossties, trailers, stall doors. He's even got a past of flipping clear over on cross ties...several times. :shock:

The owner wanted out, and my friend took Ernie as he was boarded at her farm. She did a TON of ground work with him, but had a few bad, frightening experiences with him. He's a big boy- and knows just how big he is. When saddle training him, he's bolted and bucked causing his owner to fear riding him. He's been through a few trainers, but nothing really panned out for him.

Last year, Ernie went to training, then to a lease-to-own person. As it turns out, the lease didn't work out- the lessor claimed that Ernie was displaying dangerous behaviors such as bolting while tacking up, breaking things, etc (same old story), couldn't be bridled or saddled. She did not want to buy him. To make matters worse, when we went to pick him up and he was a rack of bones. :(

Soon after, when Cabo came into my life, I decided to swap out with my friend. I had the grassy pasture that Cabo couldn't eat, and Ernie needed it. So it was fairly obvious for us to swap.

Its been a little over 5 months with Ernie, and I have been through the ringer with him. He had severe muscle wastage, and his behavior WAS atrocious. What was once a fear response he quickly turned into a way to escape anything being asked of him. He almost killed Cathy (cat 67) when trailering during a mock-freak out. He quickly learns however that it doesn't work with me and he does as asked, and quite willingly.

He's been evaluated by Dr Hannah, had his teeth done, is going through a pretty rigorous deworming cycle, and will start ulcer treatment in a few days. He naturally carries himself inverted, and it has taken months to teach him to move differently with a lower head and neck stretched down. However, he is still pretty tight in the hind end, and if I let him, choppy in the front. He's on the EPSM diet which has helped, I think. Right now he's getting consistent work 4-5 days a week doing a mix of cavalletti, ground driving, and balance work on the longe. I have seen major improvements with this work, so I can only hope he'll keep getting better.

On Friday he'll go through another round of bodywork and through a lamness exam, and hopefully be cleared for riding, but I'm not getting my hopes up. It is clear to me when I watch him move that there is something not-quite-right. Under saddle he makes that VERY clear. I've tried riding him a few times, most of which are unsuccessful. He's ok at a walk, but anything more and he loses it- he'll stiffen, throw his head up, pin his ears. He also bites at his sides, and will resort to bucking and rearing, or flat out taking off. He hasn't gotten me off yet, and I've gotten him to work out of it, but he never gets better from ride to ride, which indicates a pain problem to me.

The other puzzler is that he LOVES to work, otherwise. he really tries hard whenver we work, and I can tell he's got the drive to do it. but there is a physical problem that is creating a barrier to enjoy riding.

Problem is, we havent figured it out yet. :oops:

The goal is to rehabilitate him, get him going and then find him a forever home who will want to use him as a riding horse. Otherwise he's going back home to be a pasture pet forever. This is sort of the "final shot" for him- so I'm pulling out all the stops- I really think he can do it, we just need to understand him. :?

Here is a 5 month check in picture...

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and here he is just yesterday, Juliane took this (thank you!)

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His trials and tribulations are being tracked on his blog, which is down below in my signature. Probably more than you wanted to know! LOL
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Postby ptownevt on Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:18 am

Thank so much for the info on Ernie. I can't wait to read your blog. I am so glad you have him. It is good that if things worked out he can go home and be a pasture pet. Not many horses have that as an option. He is lovely. I love the picture of him with a ball. I certainly hope that you figure out what is going on with him. I wonder if he injured himself sometime in one of his freakouts. I had a mare go over on cross ties once. It was a cement floor with no mats. She flipped over and right up into the air, landing on her back. Thank God she had her saddle on. It was the tree that broke, not her back.
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Postby RockinCircleC on Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:25 am

Ally, he sounds so much like Ariel it's not even funny. And I do kinda know what's wrong with her (Cushings/IR and fried by who knows how many people the 6 years before I got her). Some horses just aren't wired well and while you can help them be OK to a point, most of the time they just aren't comfortable in their own skin.

Great work on helping him. I hope you have more success with him.
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Postby myhorsefaith on Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:50 am

Thank you, ladies. he's been a challenge but as usual, the most challenging often prove to be the most rewarding.

I have no doubt that h had injured himself in the past during his many freakouts. I also suspect ulcers, hence the omeprazole route we're about to take.

His confidence has soared in 5 months time. The key with him is trust. He can rest assured that I will ALWAYS be fair, and always demand the very best, and I will always ask him to try again should he freak out. He's given me nothing less than 110% in his work, he's really trying to do things differently.

The other thing I've noticed is his own self confidence growing, especially as he get's straightened out- literally. Moving funny, crooked, is just not fun, and I suspect for a prey animal, quite frightening. As he's gained the right muscle and has learned to change his way of going, his confidence has been charged.

Honestly I think his "emotions, mental stability" has been worked to death, unintentionally by people who thought his problems were strictly behavioral. Taking this different angle to a more phyical therapy approach has proved to be benefical to him.

Its all about balance.
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Postby cat_67 on Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:05 pm

He almost killed Cathy (cat 67) when trailering during a mock-freak out.


LOL I am usually pretty quick on my feet but I did not realize there was a HUGE DITCH there and I couldn't take evasive action where I meant to! :D

(It's OK Ernie, I forgive you!)

He is a beautiful horse. It is too bad he's had such a rough time. I think you are absolutely correct that he has a physical issue. Most likely he has injured his back or pelvis in one of his flipping episodes. It can be so hard to find the exact source of pain in those cases.
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