Today I found myself procrastinating again, but I did get working with them before it got too dark. But, because I procrastinated so long, I didn't work as long as I usually do, but I think that's okay.
Kachina was first. I haltered her right away and brushed her out with a regular old horse brush. She seemed to enjoy it, and I got down to the hocks on her back legs before I backed off...not because she was uncomfortable, but because I'm a big chicken. She was fine. I probably could have brushed all the way to her back hooves, but there's always tomorrow! Might as well not get my head kicked off today.
Then I played with her mouth and picked up her front feet briefly. She's getting better about it on her bad side and she's pretty good on her right side. She was a little sticky with leading today. She just wanted to stand there, but we got unstuck and moved around. I was going to work on her hind feet with a rope, but I decided that I really needed to get over and work with Griffin instead. So I spent time just standing by her head, kissing her on the face, and telling her how much I liked her too. She is so sweet. We whiffle noses all the time. I think the other thing I need to do with her now, is starting acting more crazy around her when I have her on the leadline. I need her to not freak out and want to fly away anytime I do something unusual. I don't tiptoe around her, for the most part, but if I trip, or jump, she does get worried.
I made a lot of progress with Griffin today. I was able to halter him right away without throwing the long rope onto him. I just approached him and let him check out the halter and lead rope for a while, then rubbed his face, and slipped it right on! He was very good. But he, of course, did have that distrustful eye turned on me. I tried to really take my time and give him a ton of breaks where I backed completely away from him and turned away to look at something other than him. It did seem to help, although I caught him trying to withdraw a couple of times while I was out letting him relax, so I jumped quick just to get his attention back on me. That seems to work. He flinches and then just looks at me.
Next, I just approached him, rubbed his face and neck and then walked away many many times. I want him to quit thinking about leaving when I approach. He's really good about respecting the pull on the halter, but I don't want to have to pull him back toward me. I want him to just stay. So we worked on that. And he did stay better by the end. Griffin is very uncomfortable with me anywhere but near his head, so I grabbed my stick and string and decided to touch him all over with that. He'd never seen the stick and string before and it's been a while since I've used the pole on him. He tensed up and flinched the first few times, but other than that was very okay with it. I just rubbed him with the stick first, then I progressed to tossing the string over his back. He's a very brave horse and isn't generally afraid of many things, just me! He calmed down very quickly with the string touching him all over.
Then I decided that I wanted to work on getting him to "lead" or at least give to the halter. He will give his nose, but I have to hold steady pressure for a long time before his feet will follow. I stood to his side and just pulled on the halter until he stepped one front foot toward me. We need to keep working on that. I thought it might help if I could get his feet freed up because he seems very sticky and spurty. When he gets worried, it's a sudden violent leap away, then he stops and looks at me again...which is good, but at the same time, I think he needs to not be so tense and able to move around me more comfortably. So I asked him to move away from me to lunge around his pen. This was very hard to do! He wanted to just stand there! I guess the desensitizing worked! I had to hiss at him and kick dirt at him, and swing my rope very violently to get him to move off (didn't want to hit him with it yet). Then I asked him to stop and face up. We did this many times until he would keep a steady pace instead of trying to stop and face me on his own all the time. I know it seems like a good thing that he wants to face me, but I feel like he is really stuck and NEEDS to move. I think that when he stands still too much, he's not all there with me.
He is definitely getting more comfortable with me rubbing his face though. I figure we'll build on that little by little! The last thing I did was rub him with my hands and try to get further back than his neck. He's okay with the neck and head, and only somewhat okay with the chest. I could rub his withers, and a little bit down his side, and his girth area, but when I got to his forearm, he was definitely not liking it! On his right side, he tucked his butt, sucked back against the fence and really thought about wheeling away from me showing his butt to protect himself! But, he just tucked his butt and really tensed up his body in an arc, showing me what he was about to do, and I backed up a step and rubbed his neck. I went to his forearm and then backed off several times until he quit tensing. Then we were okay. I need more control over his head with the halter before I progress any further back, and even though I can touch him down his legs with my stick, that doesn't mean that I can do it! We'll get there!
At this rate, we should be able to geld him very soon. I don't think the castration is going to do all that much for his personality though. This is who he is. Maybe he'll mellow out, but I don't see him as acting studdy. I see a very self protective horse. Testosterone may or may not exaggerate his self preservation instinct...I don't know. Anyone else have any experience with this? He's two years old. I've never seen him call to my other horses like a stallion does. He nickers to them when he sees them coming in from the pasture, just like any other horse friend would do when they have to stand in a pen all alone all day.
At the end, I slid his halter off, he was calm and I walked away. He stood and watched me as I climbed out over the panels very near him.