Monday, August 10, 2009

Kachina experiences "stranger danger"

I worked with Kachina the other day, and then both Griffin and Kachina a little bit today.

The other day, with Kachina, I worked mostly on getting her to be comfortable with me rubbing her hips and butt. It seemed like every time I got down by her tail, she wanted to step her hind end away from me. So I had to stick with her and pivot with her and keep my hand on her until she stopped moving. I had to do this many times and finally she did stand, but I think it just shows she's not 100% comfortable with me back there yet.

Today, we decided to take the tractor in and scrape out Kachina's pen. Griffin's pen is a little higher up and sloped so the water drains better, but Kachina's pen tends to get very mucky when it rains, and we've had a lot of rain recently. It's impossible to work with her in her pen when it's like that because it is so slippery. So, we just blocked her in the barn, and scraped out her poo pile and all the old matted down hay and muck. Now, when it dries out, it's going to be nice and firm. And her hooves will dry out better.

She took the tractor coming in very well. I was proud of her.

I worked with Griffin right afterward. I didn't really intend to work hard on him, but I had the halter, and I just wanted to catch him and rub him a bit. My aunt was there and my parents, and they all sort of wanted to see what I could do with him, so I ran him briefly through his "paces". Then my dad wanted to touch him, so we worked on "Stranger Danger". My dad did a lot of approach and retreat, while I just stood next to him and talked to him and rubbed him. My dad started by letting him sniff his hand, and then he was able to rub his forehead and walk away before Griffin decided to step back. Griffin was uncomfortable, but he was okay. It was a good lesson. After everyone left, I spent some time scratching his butt and he was very comfortable and happy.

Then I caught Kachina and worked on touching her back end. Then I led her for a bit, but because my dad was watching, she was a bit sticky with leading. I had my dad come in the pen to practice "Stranger Danger". Kachina was pretty worried, but we played with her for a long time. First just sniffing my dad's hand and he'd walk away before she could get too worried. Then he walked around the pen, and Kachina and I followed him. Then she led very well! She wanted to follow me following him. She stayed right on my heels and I hardly had to tug on her at all. So while we followed him around the pen, my dad would stop and turn and let her sniff his hand, then walk away from her again. She was so funny. She definitely got worried, sometimes, but it was cute. I petted and laughed at her while we helped her relax with my dad. Then, I had him squat down, and I sort of led her up to him (back and forth because there was no way she would walk straight up to him), then I turned and squatted down beside him. When I squat, she always lowers her head down to my level and relaxes, and she did this when my dad was sitting there too. So, I kept asking her to drop her head, and my dad would have her sniff him, and I would rub her forehead, and then he tried to rub her forehead (but she'd pop her head up), so I would ask her to lower it again. She was so cute. She wasn't really concerned about my dad there kneeling until he tried to rub her face. Most of the time, she was looking over our heads at something in the yard. He was able to rub her face once without her pulling her head up, so then we were done. When we both stood back up, she became quite worried. It was so funny! Her eyes got all big and the whites showed and she backed up. I stood next to her, my dad asked her to sniff his hand one more time. She did sniff him, then she reached over and bumped my arm to make sure that we were okay...just checking in with me about this scary guy and reassuring herself that we were okay. It was so cute and so flattering! I love it when a horse trusts you enough that they'll touch you with their nose to reassure themselves. That, to me, is the ultimate in trust. And Griffin, did sort of do that today with me, but it was not as obvious or sincerely completely trusting as Kachina was. She's just so sweet. But so flighty!

1 comment:

Kate said...

Nice that your dad was able to get in on the act - and good progress for the both of them. It does sound like they're both looking to you for some comfort now!