Monday, July 6, 2009

Griffin pole session and Kachina rope session

Well, I really shouldn't be writing this right now because I have a job application with a looming deadline, but I just want to!

So, I decided that I needed to work with Griffin very intensively because if he gets more sick, we'll need to be able to restrain him somehow and the more work he has, the better he'll take it, right? So, my plan was to try the bamboo pole on him. I was definitely apprehensive about it, but like I said before, he can be a thinker if not pushed to hard, especially since he doesn't really want to move too much right now anyway.

I started by earlier in the day, tying a panel across the barn entrance so that he could get used to the fact that he can't retreat into the barn (I didn't want a replay of the panel incident). Then I laid my pole against his panels so that it stuck over the top near where his hay was. Through all this, he was unconcerned and continued to eat hay, seeming to not notice the pole.

A couple of hours later, I returned and entered his pen, just me, no pole. First, I picked a big handful of grass, approached and knelt down holding the grasss out to him. He stepped over very slowly and pulled the long grass out of my hand. Then, I spent time asking him to move, then stop and look at me. This was actually the most time that I've spent really pushing him to move away from me, and he did snort at me a couple of times when I had to really push him (just with my body language, no stick or rope or anything). He wasn't so keen on moving, and I think part of it is that he is pretty stiff in his shoulders, and the other part is that he is getting sticky feet because I don't move him around that much. He has a particular corner that he likes to back himself into and stand with his left side facing me. That's the side that he'd prefer I be on, so I had to spend a lot of time trying to get him to turn and move around with me on his right side. Getting him to stop and hold still with me on his right side was difficult to because he would stop, then turn and back himself into his corner with me on his left side.

He was very nonagressive through all this. At one point, he did swing his butt out toward me and I'm not sure if he was actually thinking of kicking at me, or if he was contemplating turning into the fence, but he actually stopped all on his one and turned around to face me. He wants to face me and feels very uncomfortable when his butt is toward me (which I like). He actually was pretty interested and engaged in this process the whole time. He didn't seem to shut off, and I gave him lots of space when he did actually stop and look at me, so he had plenty of soak time.

His leg was quite swollen in the beginning, after I'd been asking him to move around for about a half hour (almost all of this moving was at the walk - only occasionally did he spurt into a couple of trot strides when I was having difficulty getting him to turn on his right side), his swollen leg was almost back to normal. I was hoping that the movement would help push the fluid out, and it did. His chest is huge still though, and nothing has abscessed yet.

So, since I thought he was doing pretty well with me moving him, I decided to introduce the pole into the picture. First, I just pulled it in and laid it on the ground near his favorite corner. He snorted, and moved a little, but then approached it directly to sniff at it. Then I asked him to move around, just like we'd been doing before, with the pole laying on the ground. He seemed only a tad concerned about it, so I moved him until he'd checked it out a couple of times and lost his concern. Then I picked it up and laid it down in a new place, and moved him around then. He was generally unconcerned about it. So then, I picked it up and offer the end to him to sniff while he was stopped and standing still watching me. He calmly sniffed the end of it really well, so I backed off and pulled the pole up and let him have a break. Then I did it again...I kept letting him sniff it, then I'd pull it away.

He started to let me bump it on his nose, so then as I pulled it away, I moved it back toward his body without touching him with it. He watched it, but seemed unworried, so I moved the pole around him a few times without touching him, then I just went ahead and set it against his withers. He did a half flinch, but didn't move. I rubbed him across his back and then stopped and let him sniff it again and then backed off. I approached and retreated like this for a while, then I just settled in and began rubbing his whole body with the pole. Through all this, he stood still watching me or the pole with calm interest. He let me touch him EVERYWHERE! The first time I went his butt, he did tuck it and get worried for a second, but I just stopped and did it again, and then he was fine with it. I was even able to touch him on his belly, between his back legs, and down all four legs. He especially enjoyed it when I rubbed the underside of his neck and across his swollen chest. His chest is hard as a rock - I could feel it with the pole. And it itches. When I'd rub across it, he'd sort of just slightly tilt his nose out.

So after I got the one side, I wanted to do his right side. It look quite a bit of time to get him to stop and stand with my on the right so that I could repeat the whole process on that side, but we did it!

And it ended on a GREAT note! He stood still, I walked away and opened his panel to the barn and climbed out. He stood and watched me the whole time, and then just calmly walked over to his hay to start eating.

I should have started things this slowly with Kachina, but regardless, she is much flightier. Any new thing that is introduced into her pen causes a mild panic, with snorting. I took a leadrope into there yesterday and then left it on the ground so that she'd have to confront it, and she did but she pranced and snorted and ran around a bit first. After Griffin, I ended up working with her with that rope. I just carried it around and ignored her while I swung it, making sure that my body lanquage was very passive. Everytime she'd stop running and look at me, I would stop swinging for a bit. Toward the end of our session, she was spending more time standing and watching me and less time running, but she was hyped up and nervous. I feel like I have a hard time ending my sessions with her on a good note. I think we did end it fairly well, with hanging the rope on her panels (to leave there so she has to get used to it), and me walking up to her to let her sniff my hand.

It's interesting though that before I picked up the rope, I went into her pen, and she immediately wanted to follow me around. She does this when I walk past the outside of her panels too, she follows me what length she can. There's not much space to follow though so we just turn tight circles and she eventually stops in the middle with me walking around the outside of her as she pivots to keep facing me. If I just walk around and make no move to really drive her or extend my arm, she can be so relaxed in my presence. I can stand next to her and she seems glad for my company. But I can't even make a move to touch her or she's off.


Andrea said...

Funny how they've reversed roles since the day you brought them home. I hope he stays this calm after he's feeling well again!

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting - thanks for all the details - they really make it come alive!

arlene said...

He did so well!! That was really good. Wildairo was very calm and loved to get scratched with the pole. Echo would never let me approach him like that yet he will follow me around and do tricks. Weird.

Kara said...

I'm starting to think that Kachina is very much just like Echo!

Linda said...

He's doing great. I'm surprised at how little reaction he has on his belly and legs. He'll come around real fast. And, maybe it's better that he's not feeling well--it gives you time to bond. One of my colts got kicked in the face as a baby and had to have stitches--then he got a cold--I was always giving him the SMZs and working with him--and we got a lot done while he was a bit out of it!!