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Archive for the ‘Week 2’ Category

Day 13

Today I got up early and went out to play with the horses before coming home to pack and get ready to go to Lake Powell. Renaissance was a bit attached to his breakfast so it took him a while to come to me. Since I got this reaction, I just haltered him and asked him to eat the rest of his breakfast while I played with Topaz. This was confusing to him because usually the game goes Halter on-Out the gate-Play for the day. I try to never let my horses catch on to patterns like that. Variety makes life much more interesting and always keeps the horses asking “What are we going to do now?” After he ate a while he got very interested in what we were doing and left his food to come play. So I just petted him and took him back and asked him to finish his breakfast. Shucks, confused again. Once he finished his food, I took him out for a walk around the property.

I looked for things to scare him, things to send him to, things for him to put his nose on, etc and he did everything I asked him to with little hesitation and I couldn’t find anything to scare him for very long. When he did get upset, he just slowed his pace and became very alert to what ever was scary. This was definately a preferred reaction rather than the crazy stuff some horses do. I took him around the big wooshie things that channels the irrigation water to the property. (Forgive me for not knowing a better name for the thing than “wooshie thing”.) This scares alot of horses because it is a big cement box with grates on top and fast flowing water inside (like a waterfall). And worse yet, there are two of them right next to each other! However, to kill the excitement, Ren was not phased by this and didn’t give it much of a second thought.

It doesn't look like much, but the wooshing is really loud.

Next I brought him underneath Kim’s house (it’s a second story barn apartment dealy) and around all the stuff like barbeques, tables, and chairs and such. Again, he was not bothered. He wanted to go in the garage. He must have known that it used to be a barn! 🙂 But since they are trying to make it into an apartment, I didn’t let him in.

He really wanted to go into the garage.

I walked him over to the swingset and took him inbetween the swings and moved them around so they tickled him as he walked through and he still didn’t mind. So with the leadrope in my hand, I sat on the swing and began swinging. I got really high up and I was going back and forth right to him. At first he was too close so everytime I went forward and back the swing would bonk him on the nose but I just continued and let him figure it out. Sure enough he got sick of getting bonked and backed up a step out of range. But he still didn’t flinch or anything.

And for my freestyle, he will swing on a swingset! Just kidding. 🙂

Next we squeezed through a small space between an old van and some panels.

"Is this supposed to be scary?"

As we walked back to the barn, he spotted something that he didn’t like. All sorts of plastic bags tied to the roundpen and flapping around. All the “dead” stuff was fine but these bags were alive! He hesitated as I brought him closer and asked him to put his nose on one of the bags. He did it, reluctantly. Since he wasn’t 100% with these crazy flapping things, I took one and just rubbed him all over with it until he realized that it wasn’t going to eat him. It took him only minutes to desensitize to the bags to the point that I could flap them and snap them and throw them at him while he fell asleep.

A new accessory!

I had him carry the bag into the barn like this and tied him up while I cooled off. He stood and played with the bag.

Later, I untied him and played little games with him, asking him to put one foot on the bag, two feet on the bag, back on to the bag, etc.

My next task would be to see what he thought of getting into the trailer. So first I just sent him inbetween me and the stall gates and backed him from standing at the side of him. He had one panic moment where he fussed for a second but only because I used more pressure than was necessary at the moment. He had to tell me to “STOP YELLING!”. I turned down the volume and he did much better. Next I practiced sending him into a dark stall just so he understood exactly what I was asking him to do. He did fine with this so I took him to the trailer. It took no time at all to get him to hop up in the trailer. He wanted to turn around at first which was not a big deal at first because I had only asked him to get in the trailer.

I'm in here! That's all you asked for!

Before a pattern started to form to turn around in the trailer, I asked him to get in the trailer and keep your nose forward. He had to ask me a few times if I still wanted him straight forward, I confirmed, and he accepted that. Shortly after with the help of reverse psychology and changing the location of his comfort, he got to the point of Wanting to get in the trailer.

"PLEASE let me stay in the trailer!"

I viewed this as a job well done and we left it alone and went to the next game. I took him back to his stall and played with the things in there for a while. I asked him to put all four feet in the tire and…

TADA!

A bit of a tight squeeze but he took the effort to do what I asked him to.

My favorite point in a Mustang’s life is this time when you gain his trust and all of a sudden he is fearless with you. Sometimes it takes longer to gain this trust but when the leadership role is kept up and they finally trust you, it is amazing what can happen!

See you next week!

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Day 12 (of the competition)

First of all, I’m so glad to be back! I had lots of fun in Mississippi but I missed my horses like crazy!! So I got up early this morning and went to the barn to treat my severe horse deprivation.

Renaissance was a little bit nervous at first but it didn’t take him long to realize that I was the same person now that I was a week ago. Then he was friendly as can be so I haltered him and tied him up while I got Topaz out. (I missed her a ton too!!) So first thing I played with Topaz then saddled her up and ponied Ren. He was a little high strung from being in a stall for a week but we trotted and loped enough to satisfy his desire to move! He also met Kylie’s sheep up close and personal. To say the least, he did not like these critters. At all. He balked and struck out at them multiple times before we decided that if he was going to be rude about it, this meeting could wait. (I wish I had pictures of this because he looked really funny.) 🙂

After a while, I tied them both up in the barn, unsaddled Topaz, and saddled Ren. He was just as calm as can be throughout the whole process. I put the blanket up over his ears, eyes, neck, butt, and everywhere else and he just thought we were playing a game. (Which we were.)

Peek-a-boo!

I gave him the blanket and he grabbed hold of it and flung it around for a while. (He had fun with this game.)

"This is a fun game!" 🙂

Finally I just tossed the saddle on and he stood as calm as Topaz does. He was wonderful. So I cinched it up and watched him fall asleep. This reaction was unexpected but entirely appreciated! 🙂

"Well, I guess I'm a saddle horse now."

Since none of that was very exciting, I unsaddled him and took him out to get a thorough bath with shampoo and the works. Just like the last bath, he didn’t care one bit but rather had fun splashing in the puddles. (This is the reason I always end up as wet as the horse.) Once he dried I braided his mane all to one side to train it to lie flat and all to one side. Now he’s stylin’.

Tame the horse-Tame the mane

Today he also got to meet Sadie who he rather liked. He stood there and nuzzled her back for quite a while. 🙂

New friends.

Now that I had played with his physical qualities long enough, it was time to start playing with his brain. I practiced sending him places instead of leading him. For those farmiliar with Parelli, this was the “Squeeze game”. He caught on to that really quickly and pretty soon he had me not having to pick up the stick at all. He just followed the feel of the rope and went wherever I asked him to go. Since he caught on to this so well, we started playing “Put your nose on things”. This he found especially fun because he’s such a clever, curious horse.

"Oh! Put my nose on the chair!"

When we ran out of things to put our nose on, I took him outside to see what we could do out there. We did more sending between things, to things, around things, etc. Then I sent him out to circle around me. This was the first time he didn’t catch on to something right away. It took him a while to realize that all I wanted was for him to travel around me. Eventually he did catch on and took to the circle until it was time to be put away.

It was a fun day with both of my horses to catch up on things that we’ve missed out on while I was gone.

Thanks for reading!

🙂

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