February 3nd, 2008, 2:30pm
Yesterday, the farrier came out and trimmed everyone’s hooves. Cody’s weren’t so bad, but she does have unbalanced front hooves. The hairline on her right hoof is much less angled than the hairline on her left hoof. The left hoof looks okay…the hairline angle is about 30degrees like it should be, but the right hoof looks about midway between 0 degrees (or parallel to the ground) and 30 degrees…so I guess about 20 degree’s maybe. Catlow’s front feet are just really short. They are wearing much faster than they are growing. Chico’s are also wearing fast, and unevenly. Could it be the snow? He has always worn unevenly at the toe and right now, the inside wall is much shorter than the outside wall on both front feet. They are also quite short, so not much can be done about it right now, but hopefully we’ll have lot of grass this spring and their hooves will grow out fast.
After the farrier left, I wormed Chico and Catlow. I worked with Chico a bit out in the pasture. Just a little bit of lungeing and turning and yielding hindquarters. He loved it, and really remembers all his exercises. I love that Chico likes to be messed with. He gets a really beautiful look in his eyes, and he’s very respectful.
I also worked with Catlow. I didn’t quite follow my outline because I sort of didn’t feel like working with her (it’s hard to start something that you haven’t gotten into yet when you are not sure how to succeed or how successful you will be).
I started by round penning her. She actually did quite well. She doesn’t want to come off the fence and face me when she is going around to the left. I’ll have to be sure to focus on that side more than the other. It was obvious that a couple of times she was just plain disrespecting me…ignoring me when I asked her to move faster. And so I did reach out with my rope and smacked her on the butt. I noticed that she is definitely afraid of me, but she also will push into me with her shoulder (being defensive, I guess). So I think I need to focus on the draw more than the drive…even though she does also need the drive. So, my compromise will be to in future lessons, desensitize before and after the round penning exercise. I think that is key. I did not do that this time. I half heartedly started the round penning lesson so I didn’t do that before. I also need to make sure that I have a clear goal in mind when I am working with her, because if I don’t, she feels it and will be confused. It’s very obvious…when I start thinking about asking her to turn in and change directions, but waiting for a different spot in the round pen to do it (I notice that I tend to pick the same spots over and over, so am making an effort to change), there must be a change (lessening of drive) in my body language because she will often try to stop before I ask her. So, I need to be very clear and consistent…this horse is going to teach me that, I think.
Another thing that I noticed is that I need to work her longer in the round pen. In the past, I think I did not work her long enough and I didn’t change directions often enough, so she wasn’t getting the message that I was asking her to read me. I worked her until she sweated up and was breathing hard…lots of direction changes. I need to pick a cue (cluck and kiss, or trot-trot and canter). I think I’ll stick with voice because I feel it is less forceful and I’ll be able to stick with it better. After she was looking for rest, I asked her to stop while facing me, and I approached her by walking back and forth in front of her and asked her to face me while I walked around to her side. It took some repetition. At first, if I directed a little energy to her hindquarters, she wanted to just leave, so I cut her off and tried again, or more forcefully asked her to leave and then face up and start over. Eventually, she did start pivoting her hindquarters and facing up when I directed energy at them. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to get her to move.
When round penning, I need to make sure that exercise is more stressful than being with me. I was occasionally getting the feeling that she’d rather run around the pen than come in and be with me. I think the key to “fixing” that is to be sure to do lots of direction changes when I am round penning instead of letting her run zombie-like around and around.
So, after I asked her to come in and started touching her and tossing the rope at her, she was scared to death of me tossing the rope. She also jumped anytime there was a loud noise and when other horses ran past the opening of the barn. Anytime anything touched her, she jumped. I think this will become less of an issue (her being scared after I round pen her) if I keep consistent with her when working at the round pen and do lot of desensitizing before and after. She just doesn’t yet understand what I want her to do. I continued to work with her and asked her to yield her hindquarters and her forequarters. I also tossed the rope and purposefully tried to spook her by jumping, and even dancing like a crazy person. At first she freaked out, but I kept doing it and she eventually stopped and stood, although with her head raised high. By the time we were done working, she was no longer jumping when I tried to spook her. I think I just need to keep that up. I did notice though, that she gets that wrinkle under her eye when I ask her to yield her forequarters to the right (I’m on her left side), but she’s much calmer and more obliging when I ask her to move to the left. I need to work with her more from her left side…her wall on her left side is much thicker than the wall on her right side. Not sure why this is since most horses seem to be better from their left side.
I was overall very pleased by the time we were done working. So, I need to desensitize before, then round pen, then after. I need to be consistent and do it for so long that she gets bored. She’ll eventually see that it’s easier to not react, and that she doesn’t have to react.
So, I am going to go out and work her this afternoon too. I will try to stick to my plan this time.