I've been slacking in my blogging, and in my horse work. Don't worry though, I haven't been bored! Busy with life. VERY busy.
Anyway, Zaz had a couple days with very little people interaction. The weather was very cold and windy and he wasn't dealing well with it so I decided it would be best to leave him be, plus I had a lot of other things to concentrate on.
Yesterday my sister just couldn't handle it, she had to come over and meet him. She worked with him and came to the same conclusions I had come to. "There's nothing wrong with that horse." He is a horse that you don't want to try to work with through "round penning." He'd much rather run than be near a person. So you have to give him a little help, get him on a long line and work with him gently and consistently. Be clear, repeat yourself if necessary, but do not get too big.
We also agree that he's probably used to people "sneaking" around him. He can't handle it when I pause to pull up my pants, or move to put my hands in my pockets, or cough, much less do jumping jacks and silly dances. So there will be a lot of jumping jacks and silly dances in his future. It's really important not to be too quiet and sneak around a horse, or you end up with a spooky horse, not vice-versa.
He's very light, picks up on the slightest body movement. Just today he learned the difference between me marching and flapping my elbows around him and toward him. With around, he stood and watched (although he was uncomfortable), and with toward he backed up out of my space, which was what I wanted.
Today we worked more on lungeing. He can walk and trot, knows the cues for both and transitions nicely. His whoa is pretty dependable but not perfect, and he needs to learn that he doesn't need to try to come in to me when he stops. So I back him up a couple steps. I haven't asked him to stop perpendicular to me. He wants to face up, and I'm willing to take that right now rather than confuse him. He's learning to lunge in a figure 8 very nicely.
I'm really pleased with his progress, other than the fact that he still thinks my guts stink. He does NOT want to be touched. He'll allow it but he's totally not cool with it. Hasn't struck out or anything, but at times you can tell the thought is there.
He's smart. He's willing to learn when he has to. But given the choice, at this point, he'd rather run than try to figure people out. My plan today is to keep working on the stuff he's good at, and throw in some desensitizing with the stick and string, if I can find my string...
Starting tomorrow I'll be gone for 4 days. I'm really not happy with losing that much time with Zaz, not to mention missing out on some great riding weather. But there's nothing I can do about it. Maybe I can get John to read a book in the round pen or something.