Thursday, March 20, 2008

77 days left...

The sun was still trying to peek out from behind March clouds for the better part of the day yesterday. Sandy and I decided to take our first walk outside the paddock since he's arrived. I wasn't too sure what to expect. Would he walk nicely behind me? Or would he be looking in all different directions with a long rubber neck? Would he snort? Or would he decide to bolt and make a run for it like Firecracker had?

The answer was none of the above. He stalled. He stopped and pointed out that there was mud that might get up inside his frog. He looked for the best route through the muck and followed hesitantly from the paddock gate to the round pen, where he sized up the situation (there's a bar on the ground under the gate, you know, that must be stepped over and carefully contemplated before taking any rash actions.) He then stepped quietly inside and stood as I closed the gate behind us. I led him in a circle so he could get a feel for the panels and the footing, then turned him loose.

I thought perhaps Sandy would take advantage of the extra room. Not that there's much more space than his paddock area has; perhaps an extra ten or fifteen feet. Still, it's enough to encourage a buck or two from most horses. But not this guy. He just stood and looked at me, wondering just what it was I was expecting from him. I gave him a wee bit of grain and let him hang out for a bit. He was disappointed in the lack of grass, and as you can see from the picture above, we're dealing with less than ideal footing out there. Being the sensible sort, he ate the grain and waited for me to come back rather than jump and slip around.

I drug the old training saddle out to the pen after that and saddled him up. Again, no problems with the feel of the cinch, but approaching him is still a bit of an issue. Sandy noticed something about the saddle that none of the other horses have; there are stirrups hanging down! He didn't get scared or spook, but he did notice it swinging back and forth lightly as he moved, and turned his head a little to look at it. After a few minutes of leading, he ignored it. We began to work on pivots on the hindquarters, which he struggles with as they require forward motion. Forward is going to be a big issue, I'm thinking, as he likes to back away from things he's not familiar with.

Ten minutes into ground work and I took the long, coiled up rope into my left hand and placed it on his neck. I then picked up the stirrup with my right hand. He stood still, not moving, and not overly tense. I slipped my foot into the stirrup and pulled it out. No reaction. Back into the stirrup and some movement, then back out. Still nothing. I put a little weight into the stirrup, but didn't bounce; just lifted myself up onto my right toe and applied more pressure to the left foot in the stirrup.

I suppose if I were a real trainer, I'd have gone for it. He wasn't completely relaxed, but more than he's been in many instances. He may have been fine. Instead I left him standing out there and went to grab the snaffle. When putting on the bosal last week, he'd panicked over having the head stall slip over his ears. Not yesterday. He was too busy wondering what the heck I'd put into his mouth to worry about his ears!

Later in the day, just before dinner, I brought Sandy back to his stall and paddock. Firecracker was loose and standing not far from his gate. I wasn't sure how either of them would react to the other. FC just stood and Sandy stopped, not wanting to move past her. I reached out and gave FC a scratch and pat on the rump to encourage her to move off, which she did. As she moved out of the way, Sandy politely stepped off to the side and barely gave her a passing glance, instead following me like a gentleman back through the muck and into his little cozy home.

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Rising Rainbow said...

Cool! He sounds so sensible. I hope the ground keeps drying out so you have a reliable surface when you decide to get on.

I can just see him looking at those stirrups. lol

Christy said...

Oh No, the dreaded Mustang in reverse. Same as Henry.

He is quite the handsome guy!!

Callie said...

Wow, this is so cool. He's doing so well! What a great temperament.

projectjasper said...

'Forward is going to be a big issue' He must have some draft in him - lol. The looks on his face in the pictures are priceless. Hopefully it the rain will stay away.

Mrs Mom said...

Tracey, he looks EXCELLENT! What nice bone he has ;)

You two are doing amazing. Mustangs are some of the smartest critters around arent they?

Cant wait to read more!! Keep up the mucho excellent work there woman!! ;)

Andrea said...

Excellent day! Great progress, and he looks much more relaxed. Bella had the "reverse when uncertain" thing going on too, and I think Tonka may have as well. Watching Kitty Lauman's first DVD, one of those horses tried it too. I think it must be pretty common. He'll learn that forward is preferred direction soon enough. :) Sounds like he's settling in and hopefully you can really get serious soon.