Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Minor Victories


For the first time, I got Roan Dog to hold his front feet up for me. From the beginning(since I have been the one to mess with this horse), he has been really bad about yanking those feet away. I can brush his legs and give him baths...fine! No problem. Go to pick one of those size 2's up and you would think the devil had just jumped up and got a hold of him. He fell backward, he struck, several times I thought he was going to come over the top of me.

I just kept messing with him, but never really made real progress. He stopped freaking so bad and I stopped feeling like he might like to do a happy dance on my head.

But today, I was slightly irritated and decided it was time to put him in a position where he could not escape me and make my point. So I put him in a small pen under the barn, messed with his legs a bit and then backed him into a corner. I shortened the leadrope and sort of pulled his head around me a bit and touched his leg. When he went to yank it away, I grabbed the toe(that took a few tried) and held on. He sat back on the fence and then tried to walk forward, but had no where to go.

Finally he stopped trying to yank me around like a rag doll and stood on three legs...and balanced by the fence. I gently set his foot down. Lots of pets and Good Boy's and he started licking his lips, so I led him out of the corner and let him relax and lick his lips. When his eyes softened up a bit, I backed him into the other corner and picked up his other front foot. Same deal-head pulled around and butt tight to the corner. He gave up pretty easy. Set foot down-praise and walked him around. His eyes had a very worried look, but he licked his lips and dropped his head into my chest. Deep sigh...from both of us. A couple more times on each side and I actually got his feet cleaned out with a hoof pick.

No need for any of those crutches when it comes to his back feet-I can clean them out anywhere and even trim them. This horse is a mess isn't he??

Now, I'll tell you why it has taken so long for me to actually feel comfortable doing this relatively simple technique with this horse. He has a tendency to get a very dead, blank look in his eye and quite frankly, that has had me worried. There is absolutely no way to know how he is going to react when he blanks out like that, but I strongly suspect it would not be good. Soooo....I have avoided getting too aggressive with him or putting him into a position where he feels trapped. But, since he has not responded to normal handling techniques, I finally felt that I needed to push the issue and get him in a spot where it wouldn't be quite so easy for him to get away. He's no dummy-he knows I cannot hold onto that leg when he starts yanking, so he just got into the nanner-nanner boo-boo, you-can't-make-me habit and stopped even thinking about being nice about it.

He sort of blanked out at first, but when I set the foot down and rubbed and talked to him, I could see him come back out of it. After that, he looked more worried about it than anything, but by the end, he was fine. It's going to take a lot of that type of handling to get him where he will consistently let me pick those feet up and trim them, but it's another breakthrough with him.

And VooDoo got his narrow little butt run some today. My mom NEVER catches a horse in the pasture or the corral. She always opens the barn and a stall door and her horses are trained to just head into the stall. Works good for her, I hate it. I decided that today is just as good a day as any to start teaching VooDoo to face and stand to be caught in the corral. He went many laps, he could not figure out what I wanted him to do-poor kid. Finally, he faced up, held his ground and let me rub him all over with the leadrope, a second later he was haltered and he looked so "Ohhhhh, that's what you wanted." He got tied and groomed and his feet messed with. He's pretty good, but really likes to reach back and bite you when you are handling his front feet. He'll mature out of that-for a 4y/o he sure has a lot of the same mannerisms as my yearling. He was a bit tired from his merry galloping around to be too irritated with me cleaning his feet though. He's a good minded colt, so is going to be really fun to watch develop mentally and physically.

Tomorrow, the girls get added to the roster. Right now, I am really focusing on ground stuff with everything. The equine dentist will be here next week to work on a bunch of horses and then the riding will begin. I have cavelletti to get built and barrel and pole patterns to get set up and trail obstacles to get set out. I can't wait!


Mikey said...

Good for you girl! Glad to hear that story :) Isn't spring fun, when you hit them with renewed concentration, knowing that you ARE going to fix those "bugs"?
Can't wait to see some of this. Where is Megan with the camera during all this, eh? Lol

Chelsi said...

Funny, it feels more like Spring after reading your post! Your "lets get going" attitude has me all jacked up to get out there too! Thanx!

What you said about Roandog put words to something that I've never been able to put my finger on- how nerve racking that blank look can be... I HATE that look! I'd rather know straight up what a horse is thinking, even if it is a bad thing...the not knowing is a little scary.

Carroll Farm said...

Yay for the accomplishment! here's to continuing safely!

Krystina said...

Glad to hear you were able to get through to Roan Dog on the front feet issue! Can't wait to hear about your progress with the herd this year!

I can just SEE spring around the corner! It's coming, I swear it is!

Callie said...

Sounds like a super productive day! And the boys are comin' around!

Unknown said...

Yay for Roan dog! I feel the same way when i have been working with one of my dogs on something for awhile and then suddenly have a break through - isn't it nice!