Friday, July 24, 2009

Doing good for having a week off!

It's been almost a week since I've worked with Griffin and Kachina, but I think they remembered their previous lessons...and they might have even missed me! They both seemed fairly eager to approach me when I went down to work with them today.

I was able to halter Kachina with the lead rope attached, without having to toss the big rope coil onto her to get her to stand. I just had to be patient and keep approaching her with it, then eventually rubbing her face, then sliding the halter on. She took it like a pro today! Once haltered, I rubbed her all over, and put fly spray on (she only ran just a bit in the beginning, but then let me spray her whole body on both sides). Then I brushed her mane and forelock out with hair lotion.

Next, I decided to get her used to me scratching her with my training stick with string attached. I'd like to work to feeling comfortable handling her back end, and I decided that using the stick to reach her for now would be the way to go. I know she'll be less comfortable with objects than with me, so if I get her used to the objects touching her back there, then she should accept me pretty well. She took the stick pretty well, but did tuck her butt the first time I rubbed her there. She also did pick up one foot a couple times and kick out halfheartedly with it, but she quit when I just kept at it. She didn't necessarily like the stick touching her back legs, but she tolerated it. She did tense up at first when I started touching her with the new stick, but she got over it fast, and she didn't run!

Then I tossed the string over her back repeatedly to desensitize her to having something thrown at her. She did think about running around me, but actually took this surprisingly well, considering her reaction to me throwing the big rope at her. Perhaps the big rope didn't scare her as much as I'd thought! I basically kept at the tossing at her until she licked her lips and relaxed. She was a little tense at first, but I was able to do her whole topline, and around her back and front legs, and she just stood. She really did relax after a while and didn't even flinch when I missed with the rope and hit her in the side instead of getting it over her back!

After that, I spent more time rubbing her with my hands over her hips and under her belly. I'm too chicken to go down her back legs yet. I'll work them with a rope first before we get there. She's not completely comfortable with me toward her butt yet. Then I rubbed down her front legs and asked her to pick up a foot when I pulled on her fetlock hair. I just got her to pick up the foot so far. I'm not asking her to let me hold it. She's getting better at that...she does take a little bit of time with me waiting while I pull on her hair before she'll pick up her foot. I sure do like mustang's fetlock makes a great handle for hoof handling!

She's leading pretty well now, too.

It's hard to get pictures of a horse that won't stand where you leave them and keeps following you around! I think Kachina has gained quite a bit of weight now that she's not putting so much energy into fighting an illness!

After that, I called it a night with Kachina and moved to Griffin.

I was pleased that Griffin seemed to want to approach me.

His abscess is all healed up and the swelling is gone.

He sniffed me pretty comfortably, but when I went to scratch his neck and face, he moved off, so I got him moving and then got the rope on him again.

Once I had the rope on, I was able to apply fly spray with the spray bottle! He did get worried at first, but I just kept at it and rewarded him the second he thought about standing still. And in just a couple attempts, he stood still and I applied it to his whole body!

He is definitely only tolerating me being with him. I think I might be overwhelming him...he is almost shutting off when I back away from him to give him a break. Instead of relaxing and licking his lips, he often starts blinking his eyes like he's falling asleep, but what he's really doing is blocking me out, I think. So a couple of times, I just did a really fast jump to startle him back to the world, and that caused him to freak for a second, then lick his lips. So, I think I must be pushing him to hard when he's got the rope on - he can't escape from me, so he's almost shutting off, but not quite. I'm going to have to do some more thinking about how to approach that. I don't think I'm moving to fast because he's taking things well, but something about when I have the rope on him...I must just not be giving him enough complete breaks where I back completely off and ignore him. I think I'm just backing up and staring at him, so he's still in the "hot-seat". I'll have to change that...

However, we did progress to him letting me rub his face with two hands and also with the halter (that's first!). Prior to this, I'd never even attempted to touch him with the halter. I was also able to rub his neck with it. He seemed pretty relaxed about me rubbing his face and breathing into his nose by the end. I left it at that. I was able to pull the rope off his head over his ears with my hand without causing him to move away too!

Griffin is very uncomfortable with me anywhere but up by his head, so I'll work with that, and get him comfortable letting me halter him, and we'll slowly move back. I really, really want to get him gelded soon. Perhaps as soon as I get him handled up front, I can get the vet out and we can work out a squeeze chute to administer the anesthetic.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes a break lets them process things, I think. They both are interesting, and have such kind faces. It's interesting about Griffin "shutting down" - I think you're right to pay attention to that - in my experience any training done when a horse is in that condition doesn't make it to the "inside" of the horse and so isn't very effective. I'll be interested to hear how you work on that with him.

As always, thanks for your very interesting posts!

Pony Girl said...

It's great to see halters on them! Yea, progress! :) Keep up the good work, I always enjoy reading about it!