Wednesday, February 7, 2007

When forwards seems like backwards

My father in law always used to say that when they'd take family vacations it felt like they'd move three feet forward, then two feet back as they travelled down the road. This was due to my husband who, as a child, would rock forward and back, slamming his little body into the seat of the car with such force that everyone could feel it. This was the feeling I had today with Sunny.

The past couple of days it seemed like we'd moved great strides; she was willing to let me come within five feet before feeling pressured and wanting to move. I'd pull her to a stop with the lead rope (which is 20 feet long) so that I could reach out to her and give her a scratch. After the initial contact, I could walk away and then return while she stood, a bit nervously, and waited for my touch. And though she'd not been brave enough to eat from the grain scoop yet, she'd definitely been willing to come up close and nibble it off the ground alongside my feet.

But this morning she ignored both me and the grain. I suspect she'd discovered that I would leave the grain for her even if she didn't come up to me, and being the intelligent girl she is, decided it wasn't worth the effort. She also was playing hard to get this morning, not allowing me to come up without having a hold of the rope. I felt a bit disappointed, but my plate was full and I couldn't spend much time this morning trying to remedy things, so I left without much more than a quick fingertip rub on her neck.

A trip to the feed store was in order as I had to pick up some dusting powder. I had no clue how I was going to get it on her, but I had to try. The thought of snubbing her wasn't appealing, not with the progress we'd made gaining trust the past few days. The lice needed to be dealt with, however, before she ended up anemic (if she isn't already.) Since she seemed to enjoy brief scratching along her neck, I picked up a little rubber curry comb with the intention of pouring the dusting powder into it, then doing a bit of grooming. After this morning's setback, I wasn't holding out much hope of success, but I'd give it a try.

The weather hasn't been that good since Sunny came home on Sunday; in fact, it's been either raining or such a heavy fog that it may as well be raining. The result has been the footing becoming just a bit sloppy in the paddock. The rope Sunny is dragging about is thick and black, and not highly desirable to pick up. At some point during the afternoon, Sunny had decided a nice mud bath was in order, and that heavy, mud encased rope was laying over the top of her poll and dragging down on her off side...the side she refused to let anyone stand on. Well, another challenge!

No pussy footing around here, I just had to grab the rope and swing it on over her head. She didn't like it and bolted, but the rope had made it all the way over and was now hanging like it should. She trotted in a semi circle, the halted and snorted at me. That's when I realized that she'd stopped with me on her off side. Picked up the rope and moved towards her haunches, and she moved forward instead of turning to face me! I kept myself towards the rear quarter, and she continued to move forward, just as though she'd grown up on a longe line. Not wanting to over do it, I stopped and turned her after a couple of circles, having her then move the other direction. Before long she was following me about the paddock again on a loose rope, still keeping a safe distance, but not pulling or resisting. I crossed again to the off side, and again she moved forward. I sighed a happy sigh, and she must have heard it because she stopped to look at me, completely relaxed at the end of her rope.

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