Thursday, April 3, 2008

Close Encounter of the Blue Tarp Kind

What's that ticker say? 63 days???

Sandy was very, very good today. I started out cleaning down at Curt's place this morning, then came home for a little training here. Sandy's been rather wide eyed since our bit of chasing the other day. He's not been real sure if he should let me come up close or not. I brought a handful of grain with me today and was immediately forgiven. He's been very good about picking up those two front feet. I'd anticipated him trying at least one more time to avoid it, but he hasn't. In fact, I can lift up the left side, then walk to the right and he's already beginning to lift on his own! And he's totally relaxed about the whole thing. This weekend we'll work on the back end.

The good thing about living on clay is that once the sun comes out, the water dries up pretty quickly. This afternoon I led Sandy out to the round pen. He followed easily out, then led alongside me like I'd hoped he would once inside. He kept his head alongside my arm regardless of whether we were going straight ahead or in circles. I still had to cluck and encourage him, but his self confidence since what in my mind is 'The Tying Incident' last week has doubled. It's odd how something that we think of as being too scary will build them up.

Sandy's trying really hard to figure out what I'm asking when we pivot on the hindquarters. At first he couldn't quite grasp that forward motion thing and he'd not cross over with his front feet the way he should. But with his new found confidence, forward motion is coming and cross overs are happening, both to the left and the right.

But the biggest change has been his lightness at the end of the lead rope since Ken's advice the other day. This afternoon I hauled a big, blue, mustang eating tarp out into the round pen. Sandy greeted it with the same greeting I get each morning: SNORT! Thankfully, I'm now getting love snorts, but this blue monster was not loved in the least. As I led him around, I could feel his hesitation and at one point his desire to fly backwards and rear was obvious. But instead, he only rocked back for a moment, then leaned forward and waited for my cue to begin walking circles around the terrifying tarp.

Really...I'm chasing a cow, not scared of a tarp!

We worked for 20 minutes walking around this way and that way, left and right, and eventually up to the tarps edge. At one point he accidentally put his toe on the corner of it. He stood for a moment, then cautiously looked down at the tarp and saw what he'd done. Yikes! He jumped backwards with a snort, but didn't pull and run. This is a completely new horse!

It looks like a clear night, so I left a flake of alfalfa on the tarp, along with a bit of grain, in hopes that at some point he'll decide it's not going to eat him.


Rising Rainbow said...

Very cool! Sometimes those goofy things really teach them the most.

I know a number of trainers who say the horse can make a bigger leap when they are in trouble. I guess that's because being in trouble allows the trainer to step the pressure up and the horse understands why that extra pressure happened. Instead of being scared by the extra pressure they learn from it.

I'll bet Sandy gets over his fear of the horse eating tarp real soon.

Jamie said...

Baby Steps...He'll come around. I'm enjoying the updates. Jamie

Resting Racers Ranch said...

I have a Thoroughbred mare that is scared of her shadow every since she crashed real bad at Turf Paradise race track in Phoenix. I put a tarp in with her and she nearly killed herself getting away from it. So I decided to let her just rest for a few more weeks before working her too much.

Enjoyed reading about your mustang!!

Dena Plendl said...

Love the post - Close encounter of the blue tarp! Super creative and your mustang looks great!
Dena Plendl