Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Hip bones still showing, but definitely more weight across her back.

At first glance, it may appear to be a branch reaching over Firecracker's back. Rather, it's my very stiff lariat. For the past three or four days, there have actually been a couple hours where I've been able to go out and work with the horses without any rain. Hooray!

Jet was saddled up two days in a row, although with the ground as wet and slick as it is, there wasn't really any riding going on. I turned her around a couple of times in the paddock, and did walk to the end of the pasture and back, but that was it. The ground is just too soft for me to risk her slipping while I'm on board. Still, it tickled me pink to have her stand there quietly while I saddled her up, mostly because I hadn't tied her to anything. In fact, she wasn't even haltered. She's such a good girl and I sure wish I could get a few days riding in here at the house so that I could feel more comfortable about taking her out on the trail.

Then again, the lack of riding weather means that I've got a bit more time to focus on Firecracker.

With the halter and lead off, I'm forced to work things differently than I have with the other horses. I'm trying to teach myself patience. Not that I'm impatient with my wild ones, but a halter and lead gives you more control over the situation. I'm now faced with a horse who's had a head injury and doesn't want me near her face. Despite rubbing all over the left side of her body, the right side she's made pretty much off limits. And although she's letting me rub the lariat up and down her back, she no longer wants it to touch the top of her head. Who can blame her?

We did have an exciting moment yesterday, however, when I used the rubber curry on her for the first time. She loved it! So much that when I stepped back a few feet, she looked at me and then shuffled her body a little closer. A clear invitation for me to step back and brush some more. That left a nice smile on my face.

I'd been hoping that I could use Firecracker as a way to test my skills, making it one of the determining factors in whether or not I should apply for the mustang makeover. She's the same age as those who are used in the competition, making her a better example of what I'd be up against compared to my others. But now...well, I can't really push her. Sure, she'd probably come around and forgive the push, but what's the point? I mean...really? I've got nothing to prove with her, and horses haven't got personal goals and timelines that match up with ours. All she knows is that ropes and halters cause pain to heads. She knows that rubbing and scratching feel good, and eventually she'll make the choice to give herself up completely.

So I'll wait. I'll let her forget the pain and completely heal. Slow and steady wins the race, right? My ultimate goal for her is to have that injury heal and make her a safe mount for Darling. For now, I'll have to trade off days of brushing the right side with days of sitting on a chair with a pan full of grain, and sneak in an occasional trip to her right side when I can.

My attempt to frame the photo with my lariat didn't turn out as nicely as I'd hoped!


Strawberry Lane said...

What an adorable face.

Firecracker is making amazing trust progress. I'm staying tuned on this boy.

photogchic said...

Firecracker sounds a lot like Maddy---a right brain extrovert. Every day I go to the barn, I have a mantra "build her trust, build her confidence." You are exactly right, with these kind of horses...there is no time table...just day by day. She really is filling out nicely and has a soft look in her eye...well on her way:-)

Holly said...

have you ever tried clicker training?

Anonymous said...

What a challenge! But I wouldn't base my experience with this horse on whether or not to apply for the Mustang Makeover. Different horses go at different speeds.

I'm glad you've got the leisure to take your time with this one. Firecracker looks like she needs so much love. Glad she's healing and fattening up and growing to trust you, little by little.

Tina Leavy said...

glad to read that some progress is being made .I admire your wilingness to take on these horses like this.
may you have a lovely weekend.