Sunday, February 17, 2013

Building trust


I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this issue with Cash and being hard to catch, and how it's all of a sudden, out of nowhere, reared it's ugly head, refusing to go away.  I've been thinking about not only his behavior, but about mine.  I can be a bit of a hard-hitter, a "you are going to do what I want or else" kind of mentallity when I work with my horses... I kinda had to with some of the bratty ponies I used to work with.  But that approach most definitely is not for all horses.  And I definitely don't think it's ever going to work for Cash.  I've been following Andrea and her blogs for awhile, with the most recent Project Runaway: The Uncatchable Number 257 being about her abused recip mare.  She has put such an emphasis on time, patience, and doing only what the horse is willing to do.  Such a great example!!

Then, this blog post popped up on "Horses: The Process of Learning" where the author writes about not ruling with an iron fist.  It kinda hit home to me, and made me realize, rather abruptly, that that is what I do.  And, it is NOT the person I want to be.  So, not only when it comes to my horse, but in my home, with my children, I am going to strive to a softer, more compasionate leader.  It's not going to be easy, I'm such an older sibling, wanting to control everything!

So here's to being a kinder, nicer, friendly, and more forgiving human to my horses!!

That said, yesterday I had one of the BEST days ever at the barn.  It's was a beautiful day, didn't feel much like winter at all.  When I last worked with Shadow on Tuesday we had a bit of a major freakout moment.  Long story short, he spooked, the cart bounced, he bolted and I hung on just enough to steer him into the corner where he got himself wedged at right angles to the shafts of the cart up against the fence.... !!!! Scared the bejebers out of me.  But I got him unstuck (what a good boy he was too! once he figured out he couldn't move he just stood there very patiently until I got him free), got everything sorted out and hooked him back up to the cart and we took one more (uneventful) spin around the arena and called it a night.  Yesterday I wanted to just do a confidence builder, so I hooked him to the drag and as an impromptu decision took him out for a jog down the road.  I didn't hook the tire on it and I was definitely regretting it halfway out as Mr. Full-of-energy was bouncing down the road like a hyperactive ping-pong ball.  But, beyond the extra energy he was SO good, he only majorly spooked once, but otherwise he just motored right along, and even stood (for the most part) still while we waited for a big Semi to drive past so we could cross the road.  And no, no pictures as I had my hands full keeping him in check. You'll just have to take my word for it that we had a great time!

Then I got Cash out, Rosemary was bringing the horses in early for the evening so he was fairly amiable to be caught (having a hoodie pocket stuffed full of cookies didn't hurt either).  I tied him up and spent some time grooming him and he was totally relaxed, alert, happy and content looking so I though, well lets put the saddle on him and see what he does.  So I tacked him up, set my helmet on the fence in case he was being good and popped him on the lunge line.  He proceeded to lazily trot around without any fuss, granted his feet are still a bit ouchy so he wasn't totally on board with the idea of trotting out but I was ok with that.  With him being so good I grabbed my helmet and hopped on board for just a walk ride.  And he was AWESOME.  A blog recently reminded of the "Ask. Tell. Demand." training principle (sorry I don't remember where I saw it otherwise I'd link the blog!!) and I really made a concious effort to utilize that, and it really helped.  I'm the queen of nagging, nag, nag, nag.  So I think we both found it refreshing to ask once and be done.  He remembered everything I had been working on prior to pulling his shoes, bending, moving off my leg (he actually was doing this very well much to my delight!), and turns on the haunches moving off the outside aids.  I asked him for contact and he obliged, it wasn't consistent at all, but it was contact.  Then at the end of the ride I offered him the chance to stretch and boy, he took it! About dragging his nose in the ground... yay peanut pushing! It's so nice to have a horse who wants to stretch.

He got lots of scratches and cookies afterwards.  Not bad at all for not having done much with him in the past month and a half.  I think I just need to re-prove to him that I'm his friend and not out to eat him and think we shall be golden.  Besides, he really really needs to work off some pounds...

Hard to see in the poor evening light, but... that belly!!


Must be something in the air. My mare is giving me a hella time catching her lately. When I first got her, it was near impossible to catch her. Since I have had her pasture boarded, she has been awesome, but the past couple of weeks, she wants to run away. I have tried every suggestion under the sun. The only think that really works is the crinkle of a peppermint wrapper. I am hoping this is just a phase.

Belly! Glad you had a nice experience. I sometimes have to step back and remember this too. Houston is humongous and I often get into a habit of being the boss (safety first) but I also have to remember that I want him to see me as a friend/ positive too. If that makes sense... Glad you guys were able to "reconnect" though and are making positive steps forward :)

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