Monday, June 23, 2008

Will Work For Treats

Put a piece of chocolate in front of me and I'll do just about anything you want. Within reason, of course.

Firecracker, it would seem, has the same set of standards I do, although not for chocolate. No, FC, the ever elusive Kiger, loves packer pellets. So much so that she now stands at the gate when she sees me coming.

With dry days and Sandy's training load now lighter, I've got time to work all five horses, and Firecracker was disappointed to be in the line up. That is until she discovered apple flavored treats. We don't really do a whole lot when it comes to a work load; she gets haltered and handled and led, then turned loose again. Just the wee little things to help build trust. A few days ago she went for her first walk outside. We crossed the creek and walked through the field behind us, then she was turned out for about 20 minutes down with the sheep. Long rope dragging behind, naturally, so catching was made easier. And that would be class for Firecracker, complete with treats. Don't you wish school had been that simple when you were a kid?

Meanwhile, back in the paddock, Cricket is now sporting a halter. It wasn't easy; I had to use my trusty, long rope to get it on as he's still not sure I ought to touch his face. He doesn't mind his neck, shoulders and chest, but the face is different. Still, he's not inclined to panic and bolt, which is nice.

Most of my energy last week had gone into Cricket and getting him used to me being in his space. With the halter in place, Darling instructed me to, "Start working with my horse." Her horse? Not yet, not officially, but is sure is looking like she and Dude are going to be a pair. Dude is a bit more interested in things around him than Cricket, but he's a bit on the shy side as well. I tossed the rope over his neck and let him get used to it dangling around his legs. He wasn't fond of the feel at first, but settled right down.

Sunday found me working on getting a lead rope on Dude's halter. I used the long rope and managed to fashion one of my oh~so~stylish halters out of it (like I did with FC back in Feb) over the top of the web halter he had on. That gave me a bit more control over his body and eventually he settled down enough for me to slip my hand and the lead rope up to the halter ring.

Later in the day, both Dude and Cricket learned to lead. Dude was simple, just getting him to turn had him moving all four feet and figuring out what was being asked. Cricket, on the other hand, I'm certain knew what was being asked but refused to cooperate. He decided to plant those back feet and nothing was going to budge him. He stretched like Gumby with those front legs, but the hind end never saw forward motion. So out came my handy garden rake of encouragement. With a few taps on the hind end, Cricket decided forward motion was better than no motion, and while it wasn't pretty we did managed to take a few forward steps.

When the evening was through I brought a handful of treats into the paddock. Sandy is housed in the first stall and mauled me as I walked to the new boys. Dude was quite interested in what Sandy was getting and put his nose on my hand and took a good sniff. He seemed not to know how to eat the solid treat, so I stuffed it between his lips and eventually he let it between his teeth. Sure was funny to watch him chomping it down and curling his lip! But he liked it well enough to try a second. Cricket didn't take nearly as much encouragement to try his treat.

I suspect by the end of this week I'll have a whole herd of horses willing to work for treats! At least, that's the plan...


Andrea said...

Sounds like things are going well! You're making me feel like a slacker, working with just one horse. I better get back to work on Bella and Scout.

photogchic said...

Man, you seem busy with all these project horses! You are turning into a bonifide Mustang Trainer...when can we catch your show on RFD:-)

Tracey said...

As soon as you come up and film an episode, lol!