Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My friend's wee baby boy came into the world yesterday morning. I've spent some good time with the little man. He's sure cute, and smells good, and he's cuddly and warm.

Back to horsey matters. Bella is doing great. I spent some time working on rubbing her shoulder, neck, jaw, and touching her nose today. She's definitely right handed. I did get some touching done on her left earlier, but when I went in after dark tonight she wasn't having any of it. I did hand-feed her from that side, but that's the most she was comfortable with. I got to do a lot of rubbing on her right though.


I need to spend some time with Tonka tomorrow and Thursday. We're going to a clinic on Friday, and I think he'll do fine, but he needs some time spent with him regardless. I keep going about a week between rides. Which is probably fine considering he's only 3, but I need to be spending more time with him. Actually I may just do ground work the next couple days, working on respect and obstacles.

He did get a lot of time spent with him the day Bella got out. After she broke into their pasture he was being a big manly wanna-be stallion, sweet talking her and moving her around. Then she'd get freaked by the rope and do a reining horse spin, scaring me to death because she was so close to the fence and if she went through that was it. Then Tonka would move her some more, and we didn't need that. So I haltered him and both of us would stay near her, offering moral support and hoping to think of what to do. Finally Tonka and I led her to the end of the pasture that has a more solid fenced area at the end of it. John walked behind her to keep her moving. We stalled the cow, and opened the gate to her more secure area. Tonka and I went through the gate, stood and waited to see if she'd follow, went through and back through again, etc, until eventually she came in with us and we shut the gate. So now she was in a more secure area, but still not ideal. Woven wire and cattle panels. I know from experience it doesn't take much for a horse to bust through cattle panels, and neither type of fencing is very visible. So we all hung out with her for a couple hours while my sister, who happened to be in town, got us some livestock panels to make her a new pen. We could have fixed the mustang pen and tried to get her into the trailer and back down there, but I thought she'd do better being right next to Tonka and Soxy, and we'd have needed panels to make a chute into the trailer anyway.

I managed to get her lead rope, the source of all the trouble, cut to where it just barely drags the ground. She still steps on it, and has a great back-up response now, but it's not dragging next to her. We'll save the rope dragging lesson for a time when she trusts us.

Eventually, when we realized she was pretty relaxed, John and I took turns hanging out with Tonka and Bella, just being friendly-like, and sharing some hay. Then we went and did some woodworking, fixing the inner stall walls to be secure and tall enough. Sawing, drilling, hammering, laughing giddily, cussing, dropping boards, etc. Nothing bothered her. She had her safe zone and she didn't move out of it. Tonka was there too, wearing a halter and drag rope just in case he started harassing her. He didn't. At that point he seemed pretty respectful of her wishes.

There was one very amusing interlude. I was holding up a board in the stall, which Clara the cow was sharing with us while we worked. She was very helpful, walking with her wide gut between me and the wall, planting herself in the gateway, etc. Well, this time, with me stuck holding a board level while John put the screws in, Clara decided she liked my hiney. She came up and VERY GENTLY pressed her forehead into my butt, planting her nose behind my knees. Just gently pressing. Then she started heavy-breathing and groaning. John was laughing so hard he couldn't put the screws in, and I was laughing too, saying, "Can't you hurry up? I'm being violated here!" He sure took his time, laughing all the while.

Once all was ready it remained to get her from the big open area she was enjoying, but could easily break out of if she wanted to, to the rather small pen we'd built. Not very appealing, from her point of view. I opened up the panels and we worked on trying to herd her in for quite a while. John and Tonka blocked one area, the fence blocked another, and I herded. Needless to say I didn't press hard, and watched closely for signs she thought the fence might be the easier option. She did blaze past Tonka and John many times. Once she slammed into Tonka's bum pretty hard, but he didn't mind at all. Just rolled with it... Next time she got too close he gave her a very gentle kick. I wonder if he even touched her with his hooves, or if it was more his hocks. Soon after that she ran in, and John and I very quickly got the panels put together and we left her alone. Poor thing.

But, she's still contained, and she's progressing and showing no signs of trying to break the fence. Just have to be very slow and easy with her.

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