"Post from the Past"
February 9th 2008
It was gorgeous outside today. In Moscow, the temperature was 47 degrees F at 1:30pm. I worked with Catlow this morning for about 2-3 hours (I lose track of time when I’m out with the horses). I also trimmed just a bit off her heels on her front feet after our session.
I began with working on Catlow’s difficult side (her left side). I did everything on that side first before I moved to the other side, because I wanted to be sure that I spent enough time on it and moved forward before I got tired. I’ve been thinking about naming her two sides, since it is like working with two different horses, for the most part. I’m still thinking of names…one side is evil, the other side is good.
First, I tossed the rope until she became bored with it…which she is kind of doing now! But mostly, bored means she’s not glaring at me with her shut off eye, and she’ll actually look at me once in a while. I’m going to buildup the muscles on my right arm more because I work with her left side so much. We’ll both be one-sided! I wouldn’t say she was better than yesterday, but she wasn’t worse.
Then I played jump rope from her side and tossed the rope at her neck…she was very good with this…Always has been. Maybe it’s because I’m farther away, so she doesn’t shut down as much.
Then I worked with her lateral flexion. She definitely wasn’t any better today, and in fact may have been a bit worse…taking longer to yield. I started giving quick tugs on the rope because she felt like she could hang there all day. Also, if I cluck while she’s just hanging there, she will yield. I’m not sure if that indicates that she doesn’t understand what I want her to do, or if she does understand, but has no real incentive to do it. I generally cluck to her whenever I want her to move, whether I’m asking her to step across, or move out…cluck means “do something”, and she’s generally very responsive to it.
After flexing, I moved on to asking her to yield her forequarters and hindquarters. Today I used cues on her side and I am trying to be very consistent with them so that she’ll understand when she goes under saddle. Toward the back means yield the hinds, and in front of the girth area means yield the fores. She really was understanding this and I was very pleased with how much she retained from yesterday. I also began with moving her forequarters, and slid my hand back to in between the two cues to ask her to step over with both feet and she got it! She’s not perfect and I’m only asking for one good step with both front and hind right now, but with more focus on that lesson, I think she’ll be great.
I wanted to introduce her to the plastic bag on the stick today because she seems ready to try something a little more stressful for desensitizing. She was definitely uncomfortable at first, especially with the bag up around her head, but she settled down and at the end I was able to pass it all around her and over her head without so much as a flinch (although she was holding her head kinda high). She was even better when I did it on her other side.
I finished up with trimming her heels a bit…trying to reshape her feet again after the worn toes issue. Everyone says that she didn’t founder, but she definitely has some very distinct new growth on her hooves, and at this point I can definitely tell it isn’t the cuticle.
Tomorrow, Doni is going to come out with me and help/watch me work Catlow, and maybe Chico or Cody too.