Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Flags, flags and more flags.


My friend Curt operates the hydrobull as a client works on her cutting skills.

I stopped at my good friends the other day and Curt asked me if I was riding those wild horses of mine yet. I was happy to report that two of them had been mounted and walked around a bit. But I also told him how Sunny is still dealing with fear, especially on the right side.

"What you need to do is tie her head up and get a flag and whip it around. Don't hit her, just whip it around until she gets used to it."

I love this guy. He's a very talented horseman. But you know how I feel about flags with horses that have trust issues. However, I'm always willing to eat my words if it means progress, especially with Sunny. I didn't think this was an issue that a flag would solve, but I up for giving it a try. Before the fair last month, Sunny had worked to the point of not caring about things flying around her; we'd reached a new level of trust in our relationship. I'd tossed my coat across her back and had it land on the other side (right side) without her flinching. I'd rubbed the saddle blanket all over her body, including her head and face. I figured one of two things would happen with the flag; she either could care less, or she'd flip out and I'd be forced to finish the job. But hey, let's wave that flag.

So home I came and I picked up the fly mask. Not a flag, but similar enough in the fact that it makes that spooky velcro noise and I needed to get into her personal space with it. She wasn't happy, but that mask is on. I led her around the yard, across the road to the mail box, back into the yard. And then I spotted a red plastic flag that'd come with the lumber for the barn. Great! I picked it up and waved it around. Sunny moved off into a circle with me on her left.

Did you know mustangs are lazy? Yes, very lazy. Plus, it was warm, so Sunny decided it wasn't worth the effort. We were once again standing placidly while I tossed the flag around her head and legs. I changed sides, over to that dreadful right, and she didn't care.

So my troubles are not rooted in things waving around her. It's not things being placed on her back. She doesn't mind my tossing things like coats from her left over the top and landing on the right side of her body. But my hand reaching over? That triggered a huge reaction last month, and right now I'm stymied as to what direction to head next.

One thing is for sure; it'll have to wait until I return from Puyallup. Darling and I leave early, early, early on Friday morning and won't be back home until Wednesday. Another vacation for my horses. We'll see just how Sunny handles this second break.





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6 comments:

Lady Of Chaos said...

Get a fake hand, put it on a stick. Use that to reach 'over' and under and pick up the feet. You can stay far enough away to not get kicked, but a fake hand is close enough to the real thing that she'll get used to the hands being everywhere.

I usually put the flags on a stick as well, flip it over them, under them, against the belly, between the legs... All that fun stuff.

Good luck. :)

Andrea said...

Did you wave the flag over her back from one side to the other, mimicking the movement of your hand or your whole self over her back? It could be a matter of problems with switching eyes. That's really common. You can use a flag, or just flip a rope over her back (making sure not to pop her), and do this one exercise... I can't think of how to describe it. I'll find the info for you later, I have to run now.

Tracey said...

Not worried about the feet, Rachelle. She's picking up the front feet and I'm getting closer to doing the same with the back.

Andrea, yes, I can throw stuff over from left to right with no problem. Jackets, flags, you name it. It's just me crossing over. Actually, I can stand on the ground and cross over, it was just while I was up in the stirrup that she spooked when I reached over. I think it's just going to take time.

Andrea said...

Hmm. She probably just got overloaded. Maybe it just calls for repetition. Except without the part where you get hurt!

Here's the exercise I was talking about for horses with trouble switching eyes, in case you were interested. As you can see it's part 6 in the longe line lesson on that site, so not to start with if the preparatory work isn't done, but it's fun, and good to do before ground driving. I found it helped Lyric get used to the off side rein against his butt. That, and it looks cool and impresses people. :) http://www.kbrhorse.net/tra/line06.html

Rising Rainbow said...

Hydrobull, I've never heard of such a thing. That's pretty cool!

Zane & Holly Davis said...

HI Tracy, I saw your article in the magazine, great job! Thanks for your comments on our blog for the EMM. Looks like everyone is giving you some advice on your mare. Zane stuffs a glove and tapes it to the end of a broom handle, then moves it all around them. He believes it is most important to be able to pick up and hold all four feet before mounting. Sometimes, no matter how much ground work you do, a horse is still spooky from the ground, but with riding, will overcome those issues once they are used to you on their back. Zane rode Algore on the 3rd day after a lot of ground work. By week six, he was coming around and being more friendly and settled. Now, he is just like every other gelding on the place. We wish you luck with all three of your horses. Holly