Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two steps forward, one step back...

Today didn't go quite as planned. I had wanted to do a light longing lesson again today and that all started out well. He longed through a puddle, under a tree... But he was acting really amped up. I think it has to do with the weather and lack of exercise the last few days. All of a sudden he got spooked by something and didn't want to longe past it. I have no idea what he was afraid of. But he kept turning around and trying to change direction. I was able to control him and get him going back in the correct direction but the he started just coming in towards me. I tried moving him away from the 'scary spot' but he gave up on longing and it was like he forgot how! He just kept coming in to the middle. I went ahead and took him into the round pen to longe at liberty to see if that could help. I started by making him move his feet until he became submissive, then I changed his direction and continued to make him move until he was submissive. I tried again with asking him to walk and he kept coming in to me. I waved my hands around enough to alarm him and get him moving away from me but any time I would ask him to stop and walk or stop and reverse, he would try to come in to me. He got a little better towards the end and we stopped, but it was a frustrating day!

Before I got him he was trained to turn and face center when he was halted on the longe line. I think this is a dangerous practice and I discourage it. First of all, he is in an aggressive posture towards you, second of all he is halfway through a reverse you didn't ask for when he stops and turns in towards you. So, I have been asking for the halt and pointing the whip towards his eye when he starts to turn in. If he continues to turn in, I poke him in the muzzle until he steps back out and then I release pressure. He seemed to be coming along very well until today when he took the whole thing and shat on it!

He worked up a sweat and I rinsed him off, which went well. I decided to tie him up with the belly rope for a while as an exercise. Standing tied is very important and I feel like I have been overlooking it lately. So, I tied him to the fence near the stoutest post, and let him sit. He pulled back hard twice but other than that he just kind of wiggled around, testing the rope. I kept him tied for about 20 minutes until he calmed down a bit and then went to untie him. After I untied him he started blowing and being excited. I calmed him down and started to take off the belly rope. He decided to wander off before he was fully untied and I just let him go with the rope around his flanks. He was a little alarmed but came back to me and stopped in front of me after less than a minute of kicking/attempting escape. I loosened the rope and slid it off. I then walked after him with it and sacked him out with it before taking his halter off. The last thing I needed was for him to be afraid of the belly rope! I fed him a cup less today than usual because he has been worked too little and acted too feisty for the last few days. As soon as he stops acting like a fool and we get back to where we were before he can resume his normal food ration of 8 instead of 7 cups.

Here is a video of him after he has already spooked twice. Here is is really starting to get the idea of not pulling back but he is prancing and nervous. He tries to test the limits a bit but is generally calm and cool. I need to be leaving him tied like this every day for longer and longer in many different locations.
video

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