It's been a few days since I have been able to train. Several factors including returning to a full time load at college and the loss of my beloved dog have kept me from keeping up a training schedule such as I visualized when I began this journey. In any case, it cooled off some later today, and since my allergies had calmed down a little bit (I'm very allergic to dust, guess what gets kicked up out in the round pen!) I decided to go to work.
I went out, armed with my stick and string, halter, lead rope and my notes (so I don't forget to do something necessary) and the dreaded Plastic Grocery Sack.
I ran thru the exercises again, Jacques remembered everything and was actually, to my great delight, quite good in what I asked him to do. He's lazy, though, when it comes to making him move. I will watch more of the round penning DVDs tonight and tomorrow and consult the book to see what I can do to balance out the sensitiving/desensitiving exercises that I'm doing, seems like a lot of it is desensitiving and you need to have 50% of both. On the other hoof, he is a bit rude in his invasion of air space to me and it's good to have him just stand still. I have to work on the air space issue, too.
I had worked at one point early in the summer, on just rubbing the PGS all over him. He didn't like it much but I was able to at least get him to let me do that. It wasn't thorough, nor was it all down his back legs and face, but we did get that much done a few months ago. And of course, I had no clue as to what I was doing. I took the string off the stick but won't do that again, it was very hard to get looped back thru. Clinton, the hole needs to be just a smidge larger, ok? I put the bag thru the hole and started touching Jacques on his back, up and down, all over like we are supposed to, back, rear, rear legs, front legs, underneath, neck and I added head, but didn't do that until he was totally at ease with the bag all over him. I took the bag off the stick and then put the string back on (took at least 5 min. to get that stupid string back on!) and then put the bag on the end of the string. Well! I liked this! The string is just the right weight that you can flick that little bag all over the place. So I did and he stood really good for me, put his ears back now and then, shifted now and then but really didn't move. I worked very hard on the underneath and between his back legs. I got to that right rear leg, though, that he is funny about and he started to antz around some. I just kept working him with it. When I was done with it, I don't think he was totally comfortable, he wasn't super relaxed but he WAS letting me do it to him so I petted him and quit there for the bag part.
I also invented a new exercise, called the Millie Manuever. When you are done with flicking the bag around his face, take and swing that thing around in the air like making a bird fly! Over his head and over my head. He stood like a champ for that!
Next, I'd gotten the Blocker Tie Rings at the seminar, so decided to try tying him. Now Jacques' history is uncertain. I got him at a year old from some folks down in Missouri a little over a year ago. I don't think he's ever been tied up, but maybe. Seems like an important lesson that needs to be taught to a foal so you can do their feet and other things, but then when he came here, he threw himself around in the trailer and banged his head up when he was tied. Also, I've never had anything strong enough to tie him to and was scared he would hurt himself, so I've just never done it. But these tie rings seemed to be just the thing, so I watched the DVD on that and was ready to commence with something new tonight besides the bag.
I attached the rope to the ring on the loosest setting and just let him stand there for a minute or two to see what he would do. He stood so I walked up to him waving my arms and making funny whooshing sounds. He looked at me funny, not totally relaxed but more like "what now?". I did it on both sides and he moved a little bit but that is permissible. Mostly he just watched me. I guess he knows I'm not going to hurt him but I was trying to startle him and so I ran at him a few times waving my hands and yelling. Very little response. Of course this was after I'd desensitized him quite throughly so maybe that is why he thought it was just something else the Crazy Human was doing. So I got the bag back out and went to work with that some more and he stood for that again, and worked on the right rear leg and between his legs again. Very little reaction. C'mon big boy, give me something? He didn't try to pull or anything. I think tomorrow I will tie him for 10 min. and see what he does while I'm a further distance away from him. He likes and wants to be with me, so maybe he will pull if he sees me walking away from him? I will also try picking up his feet tomorrow and cleaning them and I will dig up an umbrella and see what we can do with that. He lets me pick up his feet but I can't hold them up long. I'm feeling much more confident about trying this with him now. Clinton said an air horn was a good thing to use, I wonder how much they cost?
The best part, though, came at the end. I brought out the fly spray with me. Now he has been letting me spray him sporadically sort of. One day about a month or two ago, I actually got him all over but figured it was because the girls got sprayed and he watched and decided it was ok as they weren't reacting. But as little as two days ago, I was spraying while they ate dinner (they just stand there and eat and I can get them all over and do it fast) and he kept walking off when I got to his rear or beneath his back legs.
I was thrilled that he allowed me to not only spray him all over including the back legs and groin area, but let me spray his face and ears, too! I love this! He would literally run screaming from me when he came here. He is used to it but I also sense he knows that the flies aren't so bad when I spray him. I'm sure it's soothing when they realize they aren't getting picked at by flies all the time.
And speaking of flies, I've been using the fly predators this summer, on recommendation from a friend. Now we have had quite a cool summer with only a few very warm days in the high 80s and low 90s. But it's been quite warm for a week now. I got my last shipment of them in about 2 weeks ago and then we had a heavy rain. I don't know if that had anything to do with it but the flies are bad right now, more than I've seen all summer. I will use these again next year but will ask the company if rain kills them off or if maybe I need a bigger order of them. For cripe's sake, they are just little bugs and they cost me 18.00 a month! If this company every goes public, I'm buying stock in it.
I came back to the house, sweaty, filthy but feeling ever so good about what I'm accomplishing with my boy!
Oh, I forgot, I also held onto his withers, and did some bouncing up and down next to him tonight, too. This is in preparation for getting on him at some point. I can't tell everyone how incredibly satisfying it is to train my own horse!
More tomorrow, hopefully my schedule will let me train in the mid morning instead of late in the afternoon when everyone is hungry and wanting dinner.