Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day Two

I'm so glad that I fianlly have a round pen to work in. It only took about 10 days to build, an hour here and there. Jerry did the gate placement and we worked together some on the horizontal bars. I did the post holes and measuring, deciding how many poles to buy, etc. So a good bit of it was my project. The grass and weeds has been since eaten down to nothing, but it did look nice out there to start with! I built it out of cedar posts, very plentiful and not terribly expensive up here. One day I'll have a metal one, but this has to do for now and it's fairly sturdy.

I had to be out of town for two days on Thursday and Friday and Saturday the wind blew all day. I don't train in the wind, with either dog or horse. They just lose their brains. It started out the same way this morning but settled down some by 5:00 pm and by 6:00, I decided I would get busy. I wondered how much he would remember, but he is a smart boy and has remembered things that I have taught him before.

I gathered up my things and remembered to take out a few alfafa pellets for on account of just because. He really works well for food and I wanted to show him with this way of training that there is nothing personal meant, we are still pals but he MUST respect me and my air space.

We began with the free work, no line, just me and him and the stick/string. I wore him out for a little while and it was much nicer working in 65 degree weather than the 85. After about 20 minutes of trotting and turning, 95% correctly, I figured he was starting to learn my body language and that facing me was a good thing to do. Good Boy! He was still distracted by the girls but they lost interest quickly and wandered off to find bits of good stuff to eat in the field, so he quit watching them so much and paid better attention. I got him to do a couple of figure 8s and that pleased me. Then I stopped to go and get the fly spray again, they were all over this poor boy. He let me do the spray all over except for his right back leg. Finally got it done.
Now that right back leg...he doesn't like it lifted, either. The most sensitive part of his body is that leg so I will be working with it twice as much as the other legs. I don't see any lameness or anything in the hoof. He had a huge hematoma there last March, I came back from the horse expo and it was about the size of half of a basketball, on his flank, right side. The vet came and drained it (it was most impressive to see all the stuff that came out of there) and put in a drain. Of course, after the painkiller and sedation wore off, it was sore. I had to flush it out every day and at about 8 days, had to take it out and he was antsy about that. So I don't know if wanting to pick up that foot traces to that or is just a coincidence. He also tries to lay down when I pick up his right front foot. I wonder if someone tried to train him to do that? I did work on the front feet tonight.

The "following me" exercise we got a bit stuck on. He stood for a bit, thinking, and I don't mind him thinking but he needs to make up his mind and commit, so after waiting 30 seconds without him taking a step towards me, I did some more circles and direction changes with him. He still seemed to dither, couldn't quite remember what I wanted him to do. So I pulled an alfalfa pellet out, walked over and gave it to him. OH! FOOD! Suddenly, he remembered what I wanted him to do and was very compliant, following, circling, keeping his head towards me. I just had to offer him something he really wanted. He only got one but it did wake him up to pay more attention. I did the weaving exercise and he did that quite well. Maybe he just wanted more food or maybe he decided he would work for that exersize better for a different motivation. Whatever, it worked, jumpstarted him to at least move his feet and that's all I wanted. It will be interesting tomorrow to see what he does when I do that part again.

Then we went on to new stuff. Desensitizing with the halter and rope and the stick and string. This involves tossing the lead rope over different parts of his body, tossing it so it wraps around each leg and doing it on each side so he learns that no matter where this comes from, he has to deal with it. I think I screwed it up, though, I rubbed his head with my hand a few times but think I was supposed to do it more frequently. And when I did it with the stick and string, I think I was supposed to rub his face with the stick. But he got the general idea and I'll remember to do it tomorrow. He is letting me really rub his face, he wasn't really head shy before but really isn't that happy about having his ears touched. Today he let me rub his ears! He is just glad that I still like him even though I do crazy things to him.

He did want to stand too close, though and I tried the bumping on the halter with the lead rope and also tapping the lead rope with the stick, but I don't think I quite had that technique down just yet. I'll have to practice this on a tree so I know how to make my hands work the right way and how to hold the dang lead rope and stick just so.

Another thing, the stick is very nice, very sturdy and I like it but it's not quite balanced right for me. I need to hold it just above the handle for me to be able to flick it just right. Are you listening, Clinton? :) Also the lead rope is weighted on the end, which is very nice. For some strange reason, I found it easier to toss with my left hand than my right. Jacques is a big boy, and I can feel this in my upper arms. Maybe I should start a program called Horsercise and let's all work on those wingy dingys we get on our upper arms at a certain age! I wasn't feeling as out of shape today, it was around 68 degrees and so it must have been the heat that got to me the first day.

Last, we did the exercise where I stand in front of him and he has to stand while I whack the ground on either side with the stick and string and he isn't supposed to move. He moved a bit on the one side, his right, which surprised me, as I think he is a right handed horse (my observation, not Clinton's) and that if he has problems understanding a concept, it's that pesky left side that seems to cause him problems. But then there is that right back foot. I'll have to think about this some.

So I did all the exercises. In retrospect, I think I probably should have done more circling, maybe another 10 minutes' worth. It began to rain about 20 minutes into the session and lasted for about 10 minutes, just enough to get us both good and damp and got my new lead rope filthy, and the string on the stick, well, it's black now, not purple.... I didn't want to end the session as I'd already had one interruption with the fly spray. The whole training session took about an hour and ten minutes, so I was more practiced on the first three exercises today. Oh, yes, we had a wonderful rainbow right after the short rain, I felt like God was saying "way to go!".

Tomorrow I will do all the exercises, trying to remember to rub him with the stick more than my hand. I think I will try to do this earlier in the day, it was shortly before their dinner time and although it was a nice reward for him to go eat afterwards, I don't want to get him in the habit of antsing around and wanting dinner because he knows that follows the training session. It's supposed to be in the mid to low 70s this week, and the only day I can't do it early is on Thursday. I'm trying to decide whether to put the girls somewhere else when I do this but maybe not as they went off on their own once we got started. I also need to watch the second DVD, and I want to try and get him used to the hose tomorrow so I can bathe him. Bathing is a BIG DEAL to me. I love my horses to smell like horses but sometimes they lie in poop and just stink. My horses of 30+ years ago got a bath each week and I loved how clean they stayed. Jacques is a solid bay with just a few white hairs in the middle of his forehead but the two girls are few spot (white) appaloosas. I am trying to remember why it was that I wanted white horses again. :) They are true loves, though, so I think that color isn't that important. I bought all three of these horses with the idea that I wanted friendly and engaged horses, not the kind that could care less if you came to bring them a treat or not.

So tomorrow we may just go thru the exercises, attempt the hose and maybe a bath, and may try to work with one of the girls.

The other two horses are Magnolia, a 5 year old who was trained (green broke) with Clinton's methods, and it's her former owner, Gary, who told me about how wonderful the methods were. So I was willing to give it a try. Magnolia is something like 97% Foundation bred with nearly every horse behind her as a leopard. Should I ever decide to breed her, I have an excellent chance of getting leopards. The second girl is Misty who is also green broke but has more miles on her than Magnolia. I have not been on her back, yet. After I got her, I attempted to call her trainer, and email her, several times but have gotten no response back. I really don't want to get on her until I see what she knows and doesn't know. Both of the girls are like Jacques, honest, kind hearted and open horses. Not deceitful or vengeful. Someone please remind me of that when one of them tosses me off! :) Misty also was just chewed to bits by black flies several weeks ago, the scabs are in the thousands and she is finally healing up some. She is losing a lot of hair at each bite site, poor thing. I just poured the anti itch cream on her. I do hope when I get to the bath part with the girls that I can loosen up and get the rest of the scabs off of Misty. Misty has had some good training, I can saddle her but the one time I tried to get on her, the wind was blowing and she was upset about that and being away from the other horses. I suspect that will be what I need to work on with her the most, trusting me and wanting to be with me. Magnolia is more sensible and calmer and older and wiser. I think she will be a piece of cake to work with.

The above photo is me and Magnolia. What a sweet girl she is! Below is Misty. Note those really cool stripes on her side! It's not her ribs!

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