Saturday, May 27, 2006
May 26 Evening update
He really doesn't seem to mind new objects. I took an orange canvas bag that usually has step-in posts in it, and I let him investigate, rubbed him with it, laid it on his back and wiggled it. No big deal. It's a little interesting when it's on his back and he realizes that it's on both sides at once, you can see him be a little surprised, but it's not a big deal. I also dragged the hose across his pen to see if he'd cross it. That was it for that session, I was just dropping in real quick and getting him a big pile of grass.
When I went back later the hose was all snaked around, so he must have been playing with it. Good horse! I introduced him again to my best friend, Della, and her dad was up to visit too. Della got to go in the pen this time, since she was wearing appropriate footwear. They visited a lot. This horse likes people. He visited with Don a lot through the fence. I introduced him to a saddle blanket and he wore it a bit.
There were two little black birds sitting on the corner post. Maybe they're really a very dark brown. They like to hang out on or around the horses and eat the bugs they attract. I have no idea what kind they are. They make this strange watery noise, kind of a gurgling or almost a dripping, followed by a short song. They didn't sing though, and I wish they had because I wanted Della to hear it. They just sat there on the post looking quizzically up into the sky for the longest time. I don't know what they were looking for.
Later I got the 100 gallon trough and dragged it into his pen. Boy, that thing was out to eat him! He wanted nothing to do with it at first. I also brought in a step stool as a new object for him to get accustomed to. He nibbled the step stool, I flipped it over, he checked it out again, I stood on it, he didn't care. It was all good. But he kept his eye on that trough! I brushed his mane and boy did he look nice. He didn't much like that though. There were a few good snarls, but nothing real difficult to get out. He got to wear the saddle blanket again. I also dropped it a lot, since that was scary. I bounced it on his back, shook the dirt off vigorously, threw it up on his back as if he was an experienced horse being saddled. He wore it on his neck and his rump. I encouraged him to chew on it but he couldn't get a good grip. The part he was least comfortable with was when we walked and it STAYED on his BACK! Goodness. He didn't really freak out, but he was considering it. Eventually he was wandering around the pen with it on without fear. Still not trusting that trough though. He would touch the trough, and sniff it, but not drop his nose to the water to get a drink. I had only filled it half full because one horse can only drink so much, but that meant he had to commit to dropping his head INTO the trough to get water. I hope he figured it out after I left. I'm pretty sure he probably did. He's very brave.
Then we worked on feet. He doesn't like that, and I completely understand. When I lift his foot I'm taking away his ability to flee. That's pretty scary. When I tried to lift it like I normally would, with the sole toward his belly, his reaction was to back up and try to pop his front end off the ground. We got to where he was doing good some of the time though. Then it occurred to me to try maybe lifting his foot forward. So that I was still getting it off the ground, still moving it, but not as unnaturally. That worked really well and soon I was pulling it forward and then folding it up to where the sole was toward his belly and he had no problem. I rubbed the sole, picked a few rocks out with my fingernails, gently patted. That was all with his left front foot. He is not as comfortable with his right side. He was wanting none of that. When he's threatened he pushes his shoulder, neck or head into me, and we had to work on getting out of my space. He doesn't like that so much. I have to threaten pretty hard to get him to move, and then he's not sure when I go to pet him whether I'm threatening or not. I only got to where he would tip his foot forward onto the toe, and bring it a little bit forward, and it started pouring rain and then hailing. So I went to take the halter off, but he thought I was asking him to move, and he was antsy anyway because it was hailing on us. Took a minute for him to realize what I wanted. Then he wanted to just take off so I had to stay with him and ask him to drop his head without the halter, to show that just because the halter is off doesn't mean he's dismissed. Normally he's really good at dropping his head, but he didn't feel like it then. I got soaked. But we worked through it.
When I went out to feed later, at about dusk, I wore my head light, and he didn't mind it. I gave him a few treats and petted him and he was back to his normal sweet self. I think the hail really bothered him, and asking for anything while that was happening might have been a mistake. Also, that had been the longest I've ever worked with him without a break.