Joseph is a good boy. He's already learning my language and facing me when I ask him to, rather than being evasive. I had no trouble haltering him. He's still goosy about being groomed but not as bad as yesterday. Patient persistence pays off and I got the mud removed, other than the really tough stuff under his belly and on his elbows. He's really shedding a lot! Must be because the climate is warmer where he was.
I walked him to the round pen without trouble, and introduced him to my flag. Speaking of introductions, he's a face horse, not a shoulder horse or a butt horse. What I mean by that is which part of the body a horse prefers to meet new things with. Bella is a shoulder horse. I don't believe I've ever had a butt horse, but then I wouldn't know because I don't like to get to know them from that end. So Joseph met the flag with his brave face, then I rubbed his neck a bit. Then he followed me around while I waved it and he didn't breathe for a little while but then he relaxed. I was eventually able to rub him all the way from his face to his hind hooves. I didn't tickle under his belly with it yet.
Once he was comfortable(ish) with the flag, I asked him to circle me at the walk. He seems a little unsure of what I mean, which makes sense because I'm sure my body language is different than his previous person's. He also has trouble keeping it at a walk, which is also understandable because most horses are lunged more at a trot. But when he trots he really wants to pull on the rope with his head. We barely established a start of a dialog about circles, but it was a start. I didn't want him getting too jazzed up, and when he started yanking on me he started getting very distracted and worried, and that is definitely not what I'm after. After some successful stops and starts, we went back to rubbing with the flag, and started working on touching his hind end and legs/feet.
Speaking of his hind hooves, that's the only part of the TIP training requirements he doesn't do - I can't pick up his hind feet. I'm not too worried about it, we'll get there. He's not bad, he's just apprehensive and he moves his hind end away. We made a lot of progress on that today. He really did pretty well on his left side, although I only asked him to barely lift his foot and I immediately put it back down (several times). His right side is his more difficult side, in that and everything else. When he finally lifted his foot for a split second without moving away, I just walked away and that was the end of our round pen time.
Back in the mustang pen I draped his lead rope over his back while I dinked with the gate. He stood directly behind me, almost touching me, in the safe zone where there's no pressure, and sniffed and breathed deeply. When I turned away from the gate and wandered around the pen, he was right with me. While I stood and admired him he started yawning and doing a lot of licking and chewing. I think he's realizing I'm pretty OK.
A progression of thoughts:
Kinda not sure about this:
(he didn't know what to think of the camera)
Hmm, this is alright, I think:
And I waited for him to quit yawning for to get the next one.
I think he's feeling pretty happy:
I heard him nicker to my sister's old horse tonight. Weird little things sometimes strike me as so un-Tonka and make me a little sad. He has a normal voice. Tonka had a very distinctive voice - he was a little hoarse. Another odd realization; when I was grooming Joseph my body had a muscle memory of taking special care around his right hiney where Tonka had a big scar. Joseph doesn't have a scar I have to be careful of. I can't wait to find all the special little things that will make him unique. Hard to believe at this point that he'll ever be as endearingly quirky as Tonka was, but I bet I won't find it so hard to believe once I get to know him.
When I was done I felt so energized and happy! Horses are sure good for the soul. Even though I've had too little sleep this week, I had a spring in my step and I didn't want to call it a night. The weather was wonderful too. Spring is here! The grass is turning green, and the air is soft and warm. Love it.