Yesterday I found the ground to still be soggy with some standing water. Penelope and Grunt were both in a paddock, so I closed the gate on them for the afternoon. I worked with Boomer's feet and dressed a sore he has on his neck (from the fence?). I use the belly rope on him most of the time and it is amazing the difference it makes. He hasn't reared since we first started using it and now when he backs up he stops as soon as he feels pressure!
I put Boomer on the longe line and started longing him in the open acre in front of his paddock where the round pen is. He has been longed in the round pen and in a paddock but never in open space so he was confused at first, but handled it well. He is a really fast learner. There were two puddles on either side of the longe circle and I worked him closer and closer to them. He was skittish about the smaller one, it was mostly mud. I gave him a break and shortened the circle for a few rounds and then moved towards the big puddle (6' x 12'). He darted around it a few times and wouldnt slow down from the trot to walk, like he was afraid of it. Then he finally skidded to a halt in front of the puddle, put his head down and sniffed it and walked around it carefully. The next time around he just slowed down, sniffed it, and walked through all 12 feet of it calmly! The water was about fetlock high on him. The hoof is about 3-4" tall and the pastern up to the fetlock is 2-3", so the water was probably 4-5" deep on average! I walked him around a few more times and he went right through it! I turned him and we went through the process again and he became so calm about it that I was able to grab my phone from my pocket and snap a picture for evidence!
He really used rational thinking to overcome that fear on his own and I really think that a few factors went into gaining that ability. It of course helps that he is respectful on the longe line in both directions and responds to my requests for forward propulsion. Also, I think a huge part of it was in his getting over the fear of the tarp! He has gone from being afraid to walk on something unknown to rationally deciding that it is OK to 'test the waters'. I feel like he is making big progress and I am really proud of myself for helping him get to this point and I am proud of him for being so attentive, smart, and willing.
He is becoming much more calm about bathing and allows me to wash his face, turn the hose on and off, follows me over the running hose on the ground, and doesn't spook if the hose gets kinked and hisses. My next goal with bathing is to leave him tied with the belly rope while I bathe him.
I put him on a Biotin supplement for his hooves also. His previous owner had him on Vita Biotin which provides 2mg per day. I have him on Horseshoer's Secret which provides 6mg per day because although his hooves are strong, the have suffered a lot of cracks in the last few months and need to grow out strong. One of the cracks he had a few weeks ago is along the whole outer wall of his left front hoof and I think it makes him slightly off when trotting in a small circle to the left. With proper nutrition, farrier care, and time (3 months) we should start to see improvement in his overall hoof health.