Monday, March 24, 2008

Ouch! He Bit Me!

It wasn't his fault, really. He didn't mean to catch my finger between his teeth. It just sort of... happened.

Sandy had a visitor today. City Boy's barber, Ms. Dianne, came to visit. She wanted to see the horses and she even tried to shear the sheep. Sandy was relatively relaxed considering his limited time here and how snorty he can be. He stood at a safe distance, just out of arm's reach as Dianne tried her best to coax him up close. I went and grabbed some grain and we went inside with him, and it wasn't long before she had him eating out of her hand.

But then Jet, the butterfly brain, came over to demand that she, too, get fed. And of course Dianne couldn't say no, so she went to the fence to feed Jet, leaving me with a handful of grain that I carelessly held out to Sandy while paying more attention to Jet and Dianne. And he bit me. Grabbed the tip of my finger along with his corn.


But it's okay. Looks like it may bruise there at the fingernail, but I'll survive and Sandy was sorry, and Dianne was happy it was me and not her perfectly manicured nails.

After Ms. Dianne left, Sandy and I went to work. He's becoming friendlier with the bribe offering of grain, which is quite nice. He's still unsure of himself, but he's looking for that treat and approaches a bit quicker than he has been.

I still wanted to keep things a bit relaxed, so I locked the girls into their paddock and took Sandy out for his first real walk. Of course, that meant crossing through the dreaded mud which has caused so much trouble, but since the belly rope day he's not given me any trouble. We walked out around the round pen, under tree branches and over fallen branches. He never once tried to pull free or refused to come with me. We walked out, then into the paddock, then back out, then in, then out...three trips in and out so that he knew he could do it.

Things were going so well that I couldn't stop. I pulled out tool number two, the rake, and tried to get into his space with it. This proved to be the biggest challenge we've faced yet, but one that I'm going to really need to work on. He's still very unsure about my presence alongside of him, especially near the hind quarters. In an effort to desensitize him, I'm using the rake to rub and scratch where he's uncomfortable and where I could end up kicked if he were to get too worried. He's not a mean horse, but he's lashed out in fear a couple of times the first week here, so I'm trying to find that comfort level and only push as far as I can without sending him into the wrong behavior.

The rake, however, was not on Sandy's list of things to do. In fact, it scared him. He shot around like he was trying to win the roses at the Kentucky Derby. And once he started, we couldn't stop until he'd realized it wasn't going to eat him. The trouble with my little rake is that it's just four and half feet long, and it's hard to keep it sitting on his back as he circles me. When he first came we'd used the long branch and he'd gotten over it in no time, so it surprised me that the rake took such an effort.

One of Sandy's funny quirks is that he prefers to have things touch his face before they touch the rest of his body, so when he finally slowed down, I rubbed the rake on his face before slipping down along his neck. Eventually I managed to touch both sides, but he's very leery of the left side being rubbed on. I guess I know what my work will be this week, eh?

Look, MiKael! I have an Arabian Horse!


photogchic said...

Don't let the Parellis see this little rake...they will market it as the "handy stick" and sell it for $50:-) Huge progress since I last checked in. Wow..a bridle already!

Yes...check with your friend about Clinton Anderson. I am heading out Saturday morning and staying over night. I have an extra in my room as well.
Keep me posted:-)

Tracey said...

LOL...I need to patent it, don't I? The rake is a seriously cool tool as it gets the itchy spots. Well, cool on anyone but Sandy, who really doesn't care to have his itches itched.

I sent an email to my friend and will put the two of you in touch if she can make it.

Jessie said...

Things are looking good!! I am glad Sandy was well behaved on his walk! I remember taking Remington on his first walk around the property and he was so good until the end when he decided it was a good time to buck... weirdo.

I can also relate to nervousness around the hind end! I used a bamboo pole for my first touches on Remington and he did NOT like his back legs touched. He would fire repeatedly, sometimes with both legs. That got to be too much though, and he eventually stood there :-)

Patience is the key, but you are well aware of that, so just keep on movin'!!

rachel! said...

Hi Tracey! Just wanted to pop in and say how much I've been enjoying your daily updates, especially when you include pictures -- Sandy has such beautiful eyes! Thank you for sharing your journey with him!

Callie said...

Lookin' good and any progress is progress. Even his gash is looking better. I still find it all very amazing! I plan watching Jessie and Remington in Madison in a few weeks. Wish I could get out west to see your challenge when it's time.

Andrea said...

Bella got me like that once too. OUCH! Yours sounds worse, mine smarted like heck for a while but didn't bruise.

Keep up the good work!

Katee said...

Ouch! A horse bite is never fun. Last night my horse attempted to step on me, but I pulled a super suave, super speedy maneuver and didn't get stepped on...but I did pull a hamstring!

Rising Rainbow said...

LOL......You are so funny! Sandy striking a halter pose. His head does look quite short in that picture though. Interesting how different angles do different things.

Reading about the rake exercises makes me wonder if the belly band would help. I guess I drift that way because I tie my horses to teach them to give to pressure as part of their desensitizing process.

I would think the belly band would kill two birds with one stone. The lowering the head caused by the belly band should encourage him to settle more quickly since dropping the head releases endorphines that calm the horse. Then learning to round up when he is frightened instead of fight would sure be safer for riding. Just a thought

the updates are great! I'm really enjoying following your process and of course, rooting for you big time!!

Tracey said...

Oh, the belly band has been on! Yes, it helps. I did it with the rope the first time, then without as he seemed to have learned his lesson. But yesterday he was back to his flipping out it was back to the rope today. He's still so strong that it's hard for me to keep him moving forward rather than dashing out to 'safety', which is a corner in his paddock. At least he's not diving into his stall anymore.

iz said...

Wow, That's scary. Just looking at a horse's teeth freaks me out.