Sunday, May 27, 2007

Here is the horse I want from the Monroe, Washington adoption next weekend. I cannot have him, so if you like him, maybe you can.

For more pictures of the horses available, see HERE.

For more information, see HERE.

I hope they all find wonderful homes!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tonka is doing well with the trainer! We went out there this morning and got to watch. This is the second time he's gotten on, and all went well. Tonka was a bit squirrely with the saddle at first, but after some desensitizing the trainer got on and rode around a bit, mostly small circles to make sure he had his directional cues.

Other than the riding and such, he spent his time while we were there tied to a post, fiddling with his bit and pawing. Bad boy. But long hours of that will cure him of it. It was kinda rough seeing little sores at the corners of his mouth from his fiddling. He chose to do it that excessively, so what can you do? I suppose try a different bit, but it was a perfectly reasonable bit, and he's just going to have to get used to it at some point.

I'd have gotten a picture, but my camera batteries were dead! Shocking and wrong! I was devastated. Sorry I have no pretty images to share. And I must say, he was looking good under that saddle.

Monday, May 14, 2007

They got there in one piece! Yay! They actually did pretty well. Tonka did exceptionally well. I guess this is a piece of cake compared to an 8 hour trip from Burns to Spokane with 39 other horses last year. Lyric was a little wide-eyed but not too bad. We left them looking around in their new accomodations, a bit freaked... I can't wait to go see them next week and see how they're coming along.
I am getting very nervous. In an hour it'll be time to load up the horses and head to the trainer. They did really well with their loading lessons, and got to the point where they were shut in together just fine. But not with the trailer moving. I'm afraid one of them will freak out and end up under or on top of the divider. I wish Lyric would tie, I'd just take the divider out and tie them both. Ugh. It doesn't help that the bumpiest part of the trip is immediately upon getting started - our driveway. Maybe that'll make them feel like the rest of the trip is okay. It'll be an hour and a half, and the road is very curvy. Ugh. Panic attack. Well, not quite. But I'm getting a bit worked up about it.

They will be fine. They will be fine. They will be fine.

I'll tell you all about the trainer's place later. Maybe get some pictures.

Friday, May 11, 2007

More good news! I'm going to get Tonka's title! I just got his paperwork and called the BLM guy and everything worked out to where I should be getting it soon!!! So exciting!
I am so proud of my boy! He's so great. Today he stood TIED in the trailer.

We started with just loading, and then I asked him to yield his fore and hindquarters so he would stay against the wall. That was something he did not want anything to do with. We had to get out of the trailer and have words about it. First I asked him to do it in the open, which he knows how to do so that was no problem. Then I asked him to do it up against the open door of the trailer, like a wall. No way. But eventually we had the breakthrough, and he did it no problem. Then we went into the trailer, and it seems he made a leap of reasoning as to WHY I had asked him to take those steps, because I didn't even have to ask him to stay over there, he just did it.

The first time I tied him I just ran the rope through the Blocker Tie Ring once, so if he panicked he'd just be able to back out of the trailer. He was fine for a minute but when I left his sight he did just that. Backed right on out and stood waiting for me to rescue him. (The rope I'm using is the right size to use with the ring, but not as dense and too squishy, so it slides through more easily than it should, doesn't hardly have any resistance at all.) The second time I looped the rope through twice so it would hold much better, then I stayed at the back of the trailer and talked to him, and pointed and clucked at his butt when he thought about backing up. Worked like a charm. Unloaded, then did it again. This time I was able to move around to the side of the trailer and give him treats from the outside.

I took some pictures of him, of course.

Above you can see that he's not really comfortable. Tense and fidgety.

Here it might be hard to see, but he's standing more calmly, accepting it better and is licking and chewing. Still a bit tense though, understandably. Then he stood like a good boy while I wandered around out of his sight, but still talking to him.

Then we unloaded again and were done!

This trailer loading thing is going so well with both boys. Actually yesterday afternoon I was worried about Lyric, since he had SUCH a rough time with it, but we did it again in the evening and he had gotten the lesson. There was one refusal and then he loaded, many times. They're good boys, and they're showing me that trailer stuff doesn't have to be scary. I'm learning and growing, and very happy for it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tonka did really well with his lessons yesterday. Loaded in the trailer many times, and backed out. The backing out was sure a scary thing for him. But eventually it was no big deal, just something to be cautious about, which is good. When I practiced loading him from the wrong side he backed out a little crooked and bumped his hiney and scared himself twice, but we practiced some more and he did that several times with no problems.

He had to practice standing tied, and this time I took away the tie ring that gives if they panic. He was taking advantage of it and slowly working it down to where he could eat grass. I love the tie ring, it really helped me be more confident that my horse wouldn't get hurt. But I think for long-term tying where they're expected to stand without fidgeting and goofing around, it may not be the best. I can't wait to try it on Lyric, our chronic panicked pull-backer. But back to Tonka. I parked the trailer in front of the house so I could do dishes while watching him. After a half hour he FINALLY stopped fidgeting long enough for me to go out and catch him at his good moment and untie him. Here's how he greeted me, all relaxed and soft-eyed:

I wish I could show you how BIG he's getting, but pictures don't really show it. He's not growing upward as fast, but he's just massive. His shoulder is huge. Bum too. And when he's standing up in the trailer and I'm down on the ground, he's impressive. Here's another picture of his handsomeness.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Back to work! No more standing around visiting and treat-fests. Well, a little bit of that.

The boys are going to the trainer on MONDAY! EEK! I didn't do any of the trailer practice I intended to do. Or the standing tied. Or anything at all really.

So this afternoon after I talked to the trainer we worked on standing tied. I figure he needs to know that before I can tie him in the trailer. He's a pro at it so far. He didn't mind at all, seemed to understand already that he wasn't going to be going anywhere, and accepted the fact. Well, with a bit of pawing. I'm assuming he'll get over that with time if it doesn't do him any good.

In between tying sessions we did some ground work and went over poles and onto the dreaded horse-eating stall mats. Just to break up the monotony, and maybe make standing tied seem better than the alternative.

After he stood tied for a while with only distant supervision (I was having a treat-fest with the other horses) I figured he needed to do something so he wouldn't think getting untied meant immediately going back to his buddies and lounging in the grass. I took him into the shade and we played with the surcingle. I eventually kind of hand tightened it without committing to anything, and would wait until he stopped backing up (he was backing very slowly) or if his feet weren't moving but his eyes were hard I'd wait until he relaxed a bit, then I'd loosen it up, take it off, and start over. He's still really iffy about anything around his armpits, even a brush. But he's not throwing a fit.

He's looking so good now! All shed out and shiny. Well, not ALL shed out, he still has some winter hair on his belly and long whiskers under his jaw. But he's looking good. The grass and running around is covering up some of his raw-boned look. I would have taken a picture but my camera wasn't here.

I am back to being in love with my boy, and thinking we can do anything. I'm just really glad he's going to a professional to get it done right, and consistently.

I'm so nervous about that trailer ride though! If it was just him I'd throw him in loose and go, but it's the two of them, and I don't want them stepping all over each other. I'm hoping to have him cool with the divider by then. We'll see. Going to do some trailer loading and hanging out in there in the morning. All hitched up and ready! Actually I was going to do it tonight but a really crazy wind/thunder storm came up. It was great, but not a good time to train a horse!

I'll try to have some pics of my gorgeous beast for you tomorrow.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Thank you to Kim and Della for your supportive words!

The day I finally wrote about our bad episode, I went outside and loved on my horses and I realized that Tonka still loves me and we'll get over this. He's such a sweetie. Kind of like a pesky little brother a lot of the time though...

I started fiddling with clicker training after the saddle accident, and it's kinda neat. But kinda not. I need to get a book. I've got to be doing several things wrong, because I'm being mugged for treats! Tonka does right most of the time, but has his nose on my pocket the rest of the time. And sometimes tries to refuse to let me back by his hiney because the treats are leaving the vicinity of his mouth. Lyric is responding really well to it! I wish I could show you the look on his face as he watched me work with Tonka. He stood without moving his feet the entire time, ears perked, eyes bright, intently watching us. He was RIVETED. Then he got to join the fun and now he will cautiously approach me rather than making me catch him. But he's still the last horse to come running.

Anyway, I am having fun with the horses. No real goal in mind, just bonding.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Okay. I didn't want to talk about this. I don't even want to think about it. I have to though, because now I have to figure out how to move on. We had a bit of a wreck. Completely my fault, and totally terrifying, and I felt SO bad. Luckily Tonka is okay (physically), and my saddle seems to be mostly okay, and he didn't run me down, although he did come close.

I was working on saddling him, and he was a little jumpy about the cinch. I should have taken it off, released that pressure and then gone back to it. But I didn't, and he bolted before I had it firmly secured, but it was pretty well tightened down. So it very slowly loosened as he bucked and bucked and bucked all over the place. He came close to going through the fence, but noticed it at the last minute. His main concern was getting rid of that saddle. Which he eventually did, after it had flipped around his belly and stayed there for quite a while. There were flaps and straps flying everywhere. I thought he was going to break a leg. It really sucks to be standing there watching that and totally unable to do anything about it. I did very shakily take a few pictures after he was well into it and I'd resigned myself to having to just watch it play out. You can't really see the saddle much, but it's there, right under his most tender and vulnerable parts.

I did put the saddle back on several times when we were done, but without the cinch. Maybe a mistake, but he was seriously not in a good learning mood, he was still really spooked. He allowed me to put the saddle back on, but he didn't like it.

So. Where to go now... This has affected our relationship. It will definitely affect his future training. I am going to strap some other things to his back before I try the saddle again. And I'm going to do it in a smaller area. Hopefully he won't kill me! My 50' round pen is under construction but only has 2 posts set just yet. So we may end up working in the 28' square mustang pen. It'll do, but it'll be tight quarters. I need to work on gaining his trust again as well. I think we're well on the way. It all just takes time and patience and paying better attention to his emotional needs than I did that day.