Friday, October 16, 2009

"Big" Tales

You might remember that I had mentioned putting the Bigs on a diet a few months ago. They still remain a little chubby, but certainly not like they had gotten on that rich summer pasture. Each morning, when I arrive at the barn, I open the gate from the dry lot to the front pasture (this pasture has the least nutritious grass) and let the Bigs out to graze for a few hours while I do the chores.

We are in the middle of a little Pavlovian training this Fall. I hung an iron bell outside of the back door of the barn. I ring this bell before feeding time. Also, during the day I ring the bell
when it is time for hay, and even at times when I am going to give them a little peppermint
treat. Hoping that they come to associate that bell with something good and come running when I ring it...this should help save steps (like having to walk out into the pasture, harness each animal, and lead them back to the barn).

If you had asked me how it was going last week, I would have said "not so well".

Today seemed to be the turning point.

I rang the bell.
Moonbeam looked up, and immediately started back to the barn.
Donnie, however took a few more minutes...but eventually came back on his own.
"Mmmmmm, I love breakfast."

"Me, too!"
Moonbeam always tries to finish Donnie's breakfast. Don't worry, I shoo him away every morning.
Moonbeam has taken this training one step further. When I am in the barn taking care of the other animals, he stands outside and rings the bell.....as if to say, "Hey, what about me?" Dieting is hard, but it's for your own good, Moonbeam.

6 comments:

  1. That's great! We trained our Border Collie to ring the bell when she needed to go outside to do her business. She got the hang of it really fast, but then we had to take the bell away. She rang the %#&* thing ALL THE TIME!

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  2. I follow your blog, and love to hear your tales from the farm :) I have heard of people training their dogs to ask to go outside by ringing bells that hang on the door, but never thought of training horses to come in like that! How cute that Moonbeam now thinks if he rings the bell he's calling for 'room service'! lol
    Your new fireplace (and your whole home for that matter) is absolutely beautiful! I'd love to snuggle up to a nice warm fire there!

    ~Christine~

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  3. great idea..saves you some time and energy..Funny that Moonbeam rings the bell....nice try

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  4. What a great idea. Your horses are beautiful.

    Ruth

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  5. Hi Beverly,
    My hubby and I are in Key West (which is having a heat wave with higher than normal temperatures for this time of year - in the 90s) on an RV vacation.
    We are from SE PA and couldn't believe it when we saw the snow in PA on the news last night. We can't remember when it snowed this early. And we are originally from the mid-west which gets a lot of snow. Last year it was nice on Halloween in SE PA - wonder what it will do this year?
    We went snorkeling this morning at Bahia Honda State Park and the water was warm and wonderful. Tomorrow we leave Key West but we don't have to leave Florida yet thank goodness. By the way Key West allows chickens to roam freely which I like.
    I tell my hubby all about your animals - your stories are so funny. Moonbeam is one smart "biggy". I read your blog all the time. Your home is just beautiful and what a lovely fireplace.

    Teacup Lady (Sandy)

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  6. Hi Sandy....thanks for the comment. It is always so nice to hear from people who read my stories! Florida...oh you lucky gal! Well, I am hearing rumors that it is to be back in the 60's by early next week. So, perhaps Halloween will be it's usual autumnal self. We can only hope....as it is just a bit to early to tolerate the beginning of winter.

    Have a blast in Key West....and watch out for those chickens!!
    Bev

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