Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I gave the horses another 2 days off. I worked with them today. The time off was sort of intentional. But it was also kind of one of those things where when you feel intimidated or like you just aren't making much progress, you don't want to work on that thing. When I fed both horses on those two days off, they acted very flighty, and I was a little unmotivated after feeling like even though I got a halter on Griffin, he still really just doesn't want to be with me.

But after reading Arlene's post last night, I quit worrying about it and realized that they aren't going to progress at all if I keep coming up with other things to do beside working with them!

So, I got out there and worked with them today! I did Kachina first. I got her haltered pretty quickly today with the halter and leadrope, and she only freaked for one leap when I started to apply fly spray with the spray bottle, and then she stood stock still and didn't move another muscle! I got both sides, down all four legs, and up under her belly. I was very proud of her.

Then I brushed her whole body with my hair brush (she seemed itchy and appreciated it). I was able to brush over her hip and down her butt too. I decided that I needed to really work on getting near her back end today. While brushing her, I had her nose tipped toward me when I was at her butt, although she didn't seem to worry too much...a couple of times she did step away from me and back up so that she was facing me...that's how she feels most comfortable. Then I used my hand and began rubbing down her butt and touching her tail. That sort of worried her a bit, but I just backed off and working within what she was comfortable with and eventually, she was letting me scratch her tail bone and pull her tail out a little bit.

She has rubbed the hair off the head of her tail. She must have an itchy butt. She's definitely due for a worming, so to prepare her for that, I practiced sticking my finger in the corner of her mouth. She really didn't like that and jerked her head away, got a little huffy, and even tried to nip at me when I wouldn't let up. I just released her when she showed the slighted sign of just standing still, and in no time, I could pinch her muzzle softly and lift the corner of her mouth and she was tolerating it. I didn't try to stick my finger in her mouth quite yet.

I led her around the pen for a couple circles. She's leading pretty well. She gets a little bit sticky every once in a while, but she's pretty comfortable being close to me and her nose was touching me for most of the time that I led her around the pen. I'm okay with her being that close for now. I'm still trying to encourage to her be with me.

I also practiced backing her up (which she's getting pretty well from steady pressure on the halter), and dropping her head (this is taking more patience, but she is better at it if I wait till the end of the lesson and crouch down beside her when I ask).

Then I felt down her front legs and practiced picking them up. She's pretty good on her right side and I was able to hold her hoof up very briefly and then set it back down. On her left side, she tends to want to step away from me when I ask her to pick up her foot. But I am pleased that I can feel down her legs and she just stands and doesn't pick her feet up until I pull on her fetlock hair. I didn't get to her back feet, but I will. I'll use the rope first on her back feet. In preparation, I tossed the rope over her butt and let it wrap around her back legs. She was very calm today, and did not once lift a leg to things near her butt.

We had a very calm day. I didn't ask her to run around me and she wanted to be with me right away today. I think breaks do these horses good. I've never actually had them be worse after a break. They always seem better. They haven't forgotten things even though there has been almost a whole week sometimes!

It was the same with Griffin. I was running out of time for him (I was meeting my sister to pick raspberries again). I only had 20 minutes, but I was able to toss my long rope over him, spray him with fly spray (he too only jumped once and then calmly accepted being sprayed), and then halter him with a completely different halter that even had a lead rope attached. He was much calmer today and I was able to rub his face and halter him pretty much immediately! That's all that I did though. I just rubbed his face and neck for a while after I haltered him, then my sister arrived, so I let him go. He stood where I left him and did not even move away when I walked toward him and then climbed over the panels near him. I really shouldn't feel intimidated by progressing slowly with him. I just need to take it one step at a time and really think about those steps.

I think that right now, I just need to get him to allow me to halter him and work around his head. The working near his body, where he is very uncomfortable with me, will come later as he grows more comfortable with everything else.

Here is a conformation shot I took of Griffin the other day. I think he is really nicely built and he is also quite a tall horse (for being only 2). I know his hooves are long, but I'm working on it!


Andrea said...

Glad to hear things are still going well. I know what you mean about needing a break sometimes. I do that a lot more often than I should...

Griffin is one good looking boy. Is he a little uphill or is that the way the ground is?

Anonymous said...

Griffin is very handsome! I like how you take your time with them - being in a hurry always causes problems in my experience. And I think horses do benefit from breaks - it allows them to process and integrate things in their minds.

Kara said...

I don't think he's uphill...I think it must be the ground he's standing on in the picture. Plus his front hooves are getting long (cringing).