Thursday, May 21, 2009

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.

For your amusement, my two playful boys:


Kate said...

Zaz sounds wary, but alert and tuned in. It sounds like all he needs is time, and all the things you are doing to build his confidence in people. It's very interesting to read about your work with him.

Kara said...

Hi Andrea, I have a question for you. I've had a couple people recently say that the white hooves on their horses feet are much softer than their dark hooves. I've been reading some things that say that white feet are just as tough as dark feet, but I have no experience with white feet so I don't know who to listen to. All my horses have had dark feet! (except my childhood POA - he had striped hooves). I know that you trim your own and your horses have both white and dark feet. Have you noticed a correlation between softness of the hoof and color?

Andrea said...

I hate to contradict the gurus, but in my experience white feet aren't as hard. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. They have more of a springiness about them, which isn't bad when you trim them on schedule. Kind of like the difference between green wood (white) and dry wood (black) maybe? Hard to describe a textural difference like that... They aren't necessarily weak but just different. If you let them go I've seen more of a tendency to flare in the white feet. Tonka might get what some call a sagging mustang roll in his hind feet, but that's it, they're not weak. Bella and Scout don't have such good feet. Kinda pancake shaped and they just seem weaker. Cisco, well, I have to admit I haven't trimmed him enough. All I can say is his feet are VERY concave and seem to be very strong. Lyric, my old NSH, has two white hooves and two black, and the white front hoof would flare to the front and crack and the white hind would flare to the side, but only if I didn't trim often enough. My first mustang had socks but had ermine spots so her feet were striped. I was just learning about hooves then but I remember them being very strong little feet. Soxy's striped appy feet are nice and strong. I'm not sure if her white hind feet are softer or not, now that I think about it... Coda's white feet are a mess, but I think he has cushings, he's very old, and he's a small-footed, well bred ;) quarter horse.

My experience is limited, but I'd say a white foot is different. Not necessarily bad, but different. Tonka's feet (in terms of hoof wall) are absolutely wonderful, whether they're the white ones or the black ones, and I suspect Cisco's are too.

You do such a great job on your horses' hooves. If you're wanting more experience with more hooves (and if you have a lot of free time on your hands and a strong back) you might look into volunteering trimming at a rescue near you. I tried that here, but... Lack of time and I had a hard time with the state of things at the rescue.