Trailer loading time! I finally got around to it today. There were a lot of grain pellets toward the back of the trailer that were left from when we brought the steer home, and he found those very tasty, but when he went to step in the crushed pellets made his hoof slip. At that point the trailer was parked kind of on an incline that made the step up very high, just at the bottom of his knee. The fact that he was willing to put a foot in at that height was very impressive. At one point he put his foot just on the very edge of the trailer and pumped it up and down like he was testing to see if it was safe to put weight in the trailer. Smart boy! John came out with the truck keys then and I asked him to back up just enough that the trailer would be a more manageable height to step in, and at a better angle for Tonka's foot not to slip. Strangely enough it took longer after that to get him to step in. Oh, it may have been because John and Della were standing by the door talking, and he was worried about what they might do if he stepped forward with them out of his sight behind him. But anyway, eventually he did get two hooves in and ate his grain that I had brought as a treat. He was very watchful and tense, worried about what might be lurking outside that he can't see. I could have asked him to bring all four feet in, but I didn't need that much try today. I wanted to keep it low key and as relaxed as possible.
I asked him to back out and closed the door to the trailer. Meanwhile he was being naughty! He was at the end of the rope, pulling against me trying to eat grass while I was trying to latch the door. So we did a bit of respect and attention getting work. Yielded hindquarters and a bit of back and forth lunge type work. He trotted sound! This is the first time I've circled him since the splints popped up. He does seem a little stiff in his right hind, which is where he has a big scar from some kind of trauma when he was wild. He threw a few minor fits, launched himself UP and forward when I asked him to switch directions and continue on instead of eating grass. Once he tried to run off instead of circle. Minor stuff, but obviously not happy. We ended when he had more of a "Yes, ma'am!" attitude. Then went through the narrow gate twice to put him back. While I was latching the gate Lyric spooked or something behind us, and Tonka hit me in the back of the neck with his nose. Didn't hurt but he drooled on me a bit. And that's not okay. So I popped him with the end of the rope and he did a lot of dodging and circling before facing up at a respectful distance. Then I twirled the rope to drive Lyric in front of us and Tonka got scared! He can side pass very nicely! I walked forward like nothing was up, twirling and driving Lyric ahead of us, while Tonka side passed next to me with his eye on that rope. Eventually he walked normally again and we called it a night. By that point Liam was screaming and crying back at the house and I thought maybe he was hurt and for some reason John and Della didn't know. Visions of a broken arm or poked out eye... The mom instinct kicked in.
Did some steer breaking today too! Halter work. Interesting, it seems like maybe cows lick and chew when they're catching on just like horses do. Or maybe he just needed to wipe his nose... But it really seemed to be at the points where he was thinking, "Oh, okay." He was kind of giving to pressure, but half the time when I gave back he would take back... So I was really happy when he learned to stand still instead of twisting all over the place throwing his head and trying to get away. The halter construction doesn't help a lot with giving. It makes him give by tightening down on his head, but when I try to reward his give with a give in return it stays pretty tight. Slack in the rope is good, but less pressure on his head would be even better. Eventually I could work my hand up the rope and slacken the loop around his nose. He's sure not going to be as easy as Tonka. But we did make a lot of progress today. And he will now let me pet his head and neck while I'm standing, instead of squatting, next to his grain bucket. That's something for sure.
Lots of good things going on!