Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Joseph spent his first full 24 hours in the pasture with the other horses.  When I heard Pedro bray at 5:00 in the morning I was a little nervous that he was tattling on someone who had run through the fence and escaped, but it turns out he just thinks breakfast should be a little earlier.

I was understandably slightly nervous about how Joseph would be when I went out to catch him for the first time in the big open space with two spicy redheads to influence him.  So last night when I fed I made sure to get my hands on him a couple times, just to pet and walk away.  He trotted away from me the first attempt, but then I asked him to face me (love that training, works on Bella too) and he did, and I approached, stood still when he shifted his weight, approached some more, and then petted him and sweet talked him and walked away.  I know that according to some people you shouldn't "beg" them to let you catch them by pausing and asking them to stand, you should make them come to you (by chasing them away, interestingly enough).  However, this works for me.  Chasing a mustang to show them who's boss has never been a good way to catch one, in my experience. 

Today I went to catch him after dinner so we could go for a walk.  He walked part of the way across the pasture and then stood there all handsome, just waiting for me.

Then John came toward the pasture and he was all, "Stranger-danger!" but he didn't move, just watched.

This face.  This intensity.  It reminds me so much of Tonka.  He used to stand in the pasture and stare at me just like this, willing me to get him out and do something fun.  Or feed him.  Probably just feed him, really.

He's not Tonka and I don't expect him to be.  In fact, I expect him to be so much better.  I've learned a lot since I adopted Tonka and I hope to make smaller mistakes (although I know I make mistakes all the time - I'll never be perfect).  He's not like Tonka either, in so many ways.  I think we'll have wholly different strengths and weaknesses.  But we're going to be great partners one day.  He already makes me smile, just like Tonka did.  And I hope he'll start to look forward to seeing me, just like Tonka did.

Anyway, back to our walk down the road.  I went in the direction of all the wild and crazy horses of the neighborhood.  He got a little jazzed up and whinnied some.  I've never had a horse that felt it had to whinny at others.  What do you do to correct that, if you have experience with it?  I want his attention on what we're doing for the most part, and I feel like whinnying is bad manners for one, but also a really good indicator that he is not paying the least bit of attention to me, where I am, and what we're doing.  I started by jiggling the lead and saying, "no."  That didn't seem to get the point across so toward the middle of our walk I decided I'd back him up a ways when he did it.  He was like, "Hey wait a minute, where did YOU come from?"  He was so out of touch with me that it startled him when I brought his attention back.  It seemed to work well though.

He did spook twice - once when a lady started a weedwhacker right after we'd passed her, and once when Liam threw a board on a wood pile behind us.  Both times I spooked too, so I can't really blame him.  :)

He stayed next to me most of the time, always on a loose lead, and when I stuck out my elbow to get him out of my space he moved nicely away.  We encountered a couple cars and he did fine with that. All these teeny-tiny things we have to get used to, and learn about each other.  It's fun.  John came along, and that was even more fun.

Scout was kind of a booger today and has been a lot lately, so I caught him and put him in a smaller enclosure by himself.  It was kind of an adventure getting him caught.  First he wanted to play, then I had the halter up and almost on, and Bella ran off wanting to play, and then I just caught Bella (asked her to come to me and she marched right up!) and then caught him while I had her contained.

Scout's going to have to get some good work done with him, he's becoming kinda spoiled.  I just don't have time for all these equines.  That's a thought that is on my mind a lot.  I love them all, and don't want to give ANY of them up, but I do think about how they'd be better off (as would I) if I had fewer fuzzy critters to lay my hands on every day.  I'll just have to make time for Scout at Pedro and Joseph's expense.  And my own.  My son told me quite candidly yesterday, "Mom, everything makes you tired.  You're like an old grandma or something."  He thought I'd be offended but I'm well aware of the fact.  I can't come close to keeping up with some old grandmas.  However, I felt pretty good after my hike yesterday.  Maybe I just need more exercise?

Right now though, I think it's bedtime.  Sleep tight, and make your next hug count.


Anonymous said...

He's a great horse already, and is going to just get better and better.

I've never liked the "chase the horse to catch him" school of thought - let's ask the horse to do the opposite of what we want - move away from us, amp up the energy while we're at it and reinforce the horse's natural flight instincts . . . none of that makes much sense to me, or to horses either, I think. I try to reduce the energy and just quietly go where the horse is heading to - cutting off the corner, and it pretty much works for me - my horses are almost always easy to catch.

On calling - Red is a very vocal horse, always calling and nickering. I treat it like any other distraction - I don't punish, I just quietly redirect his attention back to me or the task at hand - works just fine for us.

Cindy D. said...

I totally understand how you are feeling. Too many horses not enough time, and everything making you tired. I am the same way. Add on top of that my own personal worries over not having enough money to pay my bills, and it really is enough to just wipe me out.

Joseph is really coming along great, and you are doing a fantastic job with him. I agree with Kate, a simple redirection usually does the trick.

SheMovedtoTexas said...

I'm sure he'll look forward to seeing you. Horses love the personal attention and the routine.

Keechy said...

I like to ask for lateral movement to get their attention back, because it connects the brain faster. Just a few steps of sidepass or a step or two over with the hindquarter. With clicker trained horses you can also ask for a head down because once they learn it it becomes a relaxation response thing, so doing it even when stressed begins to calm them because they associate it with being calm.

Re being tired a lot, well, I started to get like that, then I started to get other stuff wrong with me, and after ten years of getting worse and worse it turned out to be lyme disease, so just keep that in the back of your mind in case it doesn't lift off soon. You don't have to remember a tick or rash to have it. It may not be, but I wish someone had suggested it o me ten years ago!

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Thanks for the suggestions!

Keechy, I will keep that in mind. Is lyme easy to test for? I know there is something going on, and it's been there most of my life. I could probably go through tons of testing and get diagnosed, and it would probably turn out to be rheumatoid arthritis or something similar based on family history and childhood diagnosis, but I don't want to get a diagnosis until it really makes me sick. If it is an autoimmune problem, they just fill you full of meds that make you feel bad, and it makes getting health insurance very difficult and expensive.

Keechy said...

No it's not easy to test for. They get a lot of false negatives because lyme is sneaky and likes to hide in your cells not your blood. Certainly do look into it if the medicos ever do start talking about Auto immune stuff because that goes hand in hand with lyme. Chronic Lyme is treatable, unlike a lot of things people get diagnosed with instead. I wonder if a homeopath could help you without you needing to be diagnosed for anything? I am seeing an amazing one via Skype who is helping me so much.