Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I have so much to tell you today! I shouldn't have decided not to blog yesterday.

So.. Yesterday I roped Anchor. NOT in the classic sense of the word. I slid the rope over his neck and fed the other end through the metal ring on the end. Then I worked it up his neck and we worked a bit on releasing to pressure, but really most of his time was spent learning to cope with the rope. He'd spin away and get it wrapped around his butt or over his back and he didn't like that.

When we were finished I felt like this whole exercise really brought him forward in the trust department. He was scared to death, and then he was fine. It was a good learning experience.

Later in the day my sister was able to come over and visit with him for the first time. She couldn't stand it, she had to try "round penning" him. In her experience that's how you train a horse and she thought maybe it just hadn't been done right. She was very low key, no agression, just assertiveness when needed, and she just asked him to walk, with a few trot transitions, changing direction now and then. By the end of maybe 5-10 minutes of this he was stressed, breathing way harder than he should have been for that amount of exercise and he had checked out. Head turned away, wouldn't look at her, would do as he was told, would allow a touch, but wouldn't interact in any way.

This was a little bit of a setback for me, but not much, and it showed me that I hadn't misjudged when I decided which way to go with this horse. So really it was a good thing.

Someone commented that he's sure setting the pace. He is, and I'm totally fine with that. There are times when the horse needs to be allowed to set the pace, wouldn't you agree? He's been unhandeable for almost 3 1/2 years, I'm not going to feel bad that it's taken me almost a month to get a halter on him while keeping him mostly comfortable with the whole process. And that with over 9 days off because I had family obligations. This particular mustang needs humans even less than any other horse I've met. He could easily have been dubbed untrainable and sent to the canner. But he's coming around. To see his face asking me "What should we do now?" rather than resignedly waiting for what I'm going to do to him is like - well, I can't even tell you. It's beautiful.

This isn't to say I haven't ridiculed myself in my head over the time we're taking. Thinking proudly of how far we've come, looking forward to showing my sister our progress, I then imagined what people who watch Clinton Anderson would think of all this. Why couldn't I just put him in the round pen for a couple hourse and have him broke to ride? Well, I can't and I won't, and I'm not sure anyone could. So that's that. You take the time it takes, and you ignore the jibes, even if they're your own.

Oh wait - did you catch that? I said it's taken me blah blah blah to get a halter on him.

Look at my big brave boy today!
In the picture above he's enjoying his treat reward just after I tied the halter on. Not a flattering picture but it kind of shows my rope setup. The ring allows the rope to slide freely. Don't try this with a rope that's going to bind down on their neck and not come loose easily.

Then my versatile mustangin' rope becomes a very long lead, with just the addition of a snap.
He's doing just awesome.

He gives to pressure beautifully on his timid side, and not quite so well on his brave side. But that's normal. We didn't work long once the halter was on. We'd been at this for a while and I figured this was more than enough progress for one morning.

I told him I'd take it off again if he let me put it on, and I kept my word. We'll go through the whole process again next time. I can't wait to get back out there. But for now I've got a to-do list that's going to take most of the day.


Tracey said...

Andrea, you've done a great job, and do not...DO NOT...let anyone make you feel like you should have done it better. It's a dance, and sometimes that dance needs to be slow. You've got a good feel for horses and Anchor will soon be a totally different animal. Heck, you're already further along than I was with Sunny at this point :)

Anonymous said...

I think you're doing a great job (to echo Tracey's comment) and that the reason you're successful is that you are willing to take the time. People who are in a hurry, or who aren't willing to listen to what the horse says and only to their own agenda end up with horses that are outwardly compliant, perhaps, but are mentally and emotionally not with you, and in my opinion that's not the real deal even though a lot of people seem not to be able to tell the difference. Keep up the excellent work!

froglander said...

I think a lot of people could learn a lesson from your patience.

I think that is one thing horses teach well to those willing to listen and learn.

arlene said...

I've had Echo for about 14 months and I'm loving earning his trust and all our tiny miles stones. Good lord if it went fast it wouldn't be any fun. If I wanted a tame horse I would have bought one.
Echo and Wildairo are so different there's no way they could be treated the same. It's part of the fun..... cracking the code.

Linda said...

Looks like he's doing great. I felt like I had to rush it with Beautiful and it was not a good feeling. (The club hoof issue). Do you think he'll transfer this trust he's building with you to a new owner when you're done?