Monday, August 18, 2008

Slow going...

I was beginning to think that Boomer was getting bored and I had wanted to give him a change of pace. John picked up three 2x4's (Lowe's was out of posts) and we set them up about 6' apart from each other so that Boomer could trot over them with one stride between each. He did really well and it was fun to adjust the poles and get the perfect fit.

About 15 minutes into the session, Boomer started this "coming to center" bit again. I had John help by leading him out to the circle but all of a sudden he took off and spun around, wrapping himself in the longe line. We got him stopped, turned around and tried working with him again. Eventually I decided that he was being too hard headed and wasn't listening to my cues for walk and woah. I took the stud chain and fed it through his mouth where the bit goes and tried again, he stopped on a dime with no problem at all. After a few rounds with John's help he eventually returned to his cooperative self, reversing and walking without a problem.

We realized that Boomer just has an excess amount of energy and I haven't been working him hard enough. When we first got him, he was very nervous and reacted to everything with fear. He has since gained much confidence and it seems that now he has excessive energy and is testing his role in the herd- trying to establish dominance.

We turned him out into the round pen to cool down a bit and put away the longe line, whip, and trotting poles. This time was for Boomer to calm down and think about the progress we had made. John then went in to the round pen and used the cotton lead rope to encourage Boomer to trot around the round pen until he became submissive. He kept his inside ear on John the whole time and after about 5 minutes he started licking and chewing. I had John reverse him and repeat the process. After Boomer submitted on both sides John asked him to walk and turned his back to him until he slowed down and eventually stopped. Ideally after this, Boomer would walk up to the handler, but the round pen is prime grazing ground. So, John approached Boomer and gave him lots of bonding scratches. John then walked away and Boomer followed him, accepting him as a leader!

I started to lead Boomer over to the hose to rinse him but he balked and wouldn't walk. We didn't have the belly rope so I decided to try a new tactic. When he started to balk, lean back, or go back we would force him to back rapidly until we decided to stop. This actually worked! After a few times Boomer stopped backing back and would just slow to a stop and would only move if pulled off balance to the side. We decided to go for the belly rope at this point. Next time we will use the backing along with the belly rope so that we have full forward and backward control. After we hosed him we fed him and left.

We decided that Boomer needs two-a-days at least five days a week. In the mornings I will work with him at liberty in the round pen and also work on sacking out or any other ground work. A few ideas I have are working on him lowering his head on cue and teaching him to stand while restrained by hobbles. In the afternoons we will work on longing in varied locations over varied obstacles. John will be there to help with any misbehavior. The goal of the second session is to work him until he is tired.

This morning I worked him at liberty and he was very stubborn, taking at least 30 minutes to submit. He even started pinning his ears and tossing his head when I would flick the rope at him to encourage him forward. He kicked out once, reminding me of his behavior five weeks ago. After he submitted, I got the bag ties to the whip and sacked him out and waved it around him for about 30 minutes until he was so unconcerned that he started grazing.

I took him him, groomed him and fed him. It was a bit hard for me to see the progress since it feels like we are going backwards, but I know things are improving. I can now pick up and clean out his back feet without a problem. That is something huge for us. He is also coming a long way to being sacked out very well. Right now I just need him to get over his idea that he can stop longing when he wants to. Wish us luck this evening!

(I have lots of pictures that I will upload soon, but my camera doesn't seem to be connecting to my computer at the moment.)

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