Thursday, August 14, 2008

A new approach

Well, the last two or three days have been really frustrating. Boomer has been pulling back and rearing more, and it doesn't seem to be out of fear. He has also been misbehaving on the longe line. He will start the workout well, reversing and walking very well. But at some point he gives up and just walks into the middle when I ask for the reverse. It is usually when asking to change from going right to going left. Yesterday I had John walk around the outside of the circle and pull his head out if he started to turn in. Today I was on my own and I used a rope to swing around over me head to create a visual barrier. He got the message, but didn't seem to want to work. John suggested he is getting bored. He might be. I decided today to take a new approach with him when he rears and pulls back. This is the absolute most dangerous habit a horse can have and I know it is not new because he tried it a whole handful of times at his old home when he was being loaded into the trailer. So, at first I really think he was afraid and would spook and back up and start rearing when he realized he was confined. When that was the case I would talk soothingly to him and calm him down. Now, I don't think he is afraid and he has developed quite a bad and annoying habit. I started being less apologetic and much more firm with him. I would give him a hard jerk and a firm WOAH and when he stopped, I grabbed him by the nose, pulled it down towards the ground and made him stand still. I'm not sure if this approach will work, but it is worth a shot. If it doesn't work, I will have to hire a trainer and board him somewhere for a month and hope that works. The major flaw in that plan is that we don't have transportation, and Boomer doesn't trailer anyway. The best thing would be to have someone who could come out and help us on site. I think the farrier would be the best person to ask about something like that.

I think his real problem is 'pulling back' and not rearing. I have been leaving him tied for 15-20 minutes as I finish cleaning up and he doesn't really struggle. I think the answer will be to tie him up to a tree all day tomorrow with the belly rope. I have a job interview at 10 AM and Charley has a vet appointment at 3PM so that gives us just under 4 hours to be tied up. The rest of the days of the weekend will be spent with him tied up all freaking day. I guess I will just take lunches and a book and sun myself. After he does will at being tied with the belly rope I will work on tying him with just the halter and regular lead rope. While the belly rope is a great help, we can't use it forever. We need to solve the problem and the belly rope isn't doing it. It stops him before a lead rope would, I think, but his problem is behavioral and he can resist against the belly rope no problem. So, I think he needs to spend a few days tied up.

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