Life has been indescribably busy lately. M-F I have classes from about 1-2:30, Monday mornings I shadow at the vet clinic from 7:30-12 and Monday evenings are my scheduled 'test time' for Chem, Tuesday afternoons I have Chemistry tutoring, Wednesday is my scheduled afternoon to ride the horse, Thursday is Chem lab, Friday is Phsx lab followed by Chem tutoring, and the weekends are free for horsing and studying.
Not to mention all of the paperwork involved in getting resident tuition, getting a marriage certificate, and getting my name changed, etc.
Add to the mix that John is out of town for 2 weeks for work, and I am one bummed chick!
Physics is going well so far. I am grasping all of the text and most of the lecture material. Today at the end of class things got rushed and the last example didn't make sense to me, I worked it much faster and in fewer steps than the prof was describing and I got the right answer. I really wish John was here to tutor me! I am going to try working a few practice problems this evening and tomorrow. We have an online homework that is self paced and due next monday and I am doing well, though the unit conversions are much more complicated than I have ever done before for Chemistry.
On to the more interesting stuff, and probably the reason you are here: Horse Updates!!!
Boomer is doing surprisingly well for how little I have been seeing and riding him. I have been feeling guilty for not seeing him much, so my dad suggested I set three 'dates' per week with him, so Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday are our new 'no matter what' dates. I need that time outside with him, even if it is just to give him a carrot.
I got him a new halter this weekend. It is just a dark green nylon halter. His leather one was getting a little moldy from being out in the rain, and I don't really tie him up that often, so he doesn't really need the safety features anymore. I think the dark green looks great on him.
I went out this afternoon after not riding him for about 5 days and he had a ton of energy! I just let him loose in the round pen and he cantered around, occasionally bucking and galloping until he was sweaty between the legs. I then got him tacked up and ready to ride. The last few rides since we got back from CA were in the indoor arena due to rain and we mostly worked on basics, plus introducing the 'over' cue. Today I took him outside and we worked on something new and interesting.
Whenever I ride him outside, I always lead him away from the barn, towards the outdoor arena/ big hill. Generally he stops to pee, then I get on and head straight up the hill, invariably he fights about going up the hill and towards the trail. I never really feel like I have full control of him between the time I get on him until we are fully on the trail. Today we just worked in that area (approx. 1 acre) doing circles and walking. We only walked and I would take him in circles until he softened and was focused only on me, then we would either change direction or make the circle bigger, depending on the scenery/scary things nearby. Rather than let him freeze with his head up and stare at something, I made him keep walking in circles, to and from the object. It was surprisingly fast and easy to get him near the 'scary' things/areas. The only thing that really got him was a new cow in the north pasture. We just kept walking but he was totally focused on the cow until it left. We circled close to the barn, towards the gelding pasture, past the barrels in the outdoor, under the trees, by the fire pit, and lastly- up the hill. If he hesitated at the hill, I would move the circle back down until he was OK again. This was an interesting activity because I could really feel where his tension was: right at the top of the hill before the trail starts. He didn't balk because I never pointed him at something and said 'go'. I was just asking for circles. I did notice though, from a horses perspective, the hill could be scary. You are exposed on all sides and the wind is especially strong. He spooked twice in a row pretty hard, but held things together very well(ie. no bolting). Once he figured out that the scary pile of hay was actually edible (not that he got any) he sighed and went right on with our circles. I do feel that this lesson was important. I have never actually ridden him in that area, just through it, straight for the part (top of the hill) that makes him most anxious. Perhaps our next ride will be the same lesson but at a trot. Hopefully if we can figure out that I retain control in that area, it will help with his balking.
Something else I started working on was praising Boomer more. I come from a background where you punish the wrong, the right is expected and the reward is getting the girth loosened when I dismount. I am starting to rethink this whole theory. With Boomer, I think that 'the wrong' must be re-categorized as the 'mistake' and the 'misbehavior'. Misbehavior must be punished/corrected. Mistakes should be ignored and the movement/goal should be reattempted. The right should be praised. The reward stays the same, maybe plus a carrot :) . The mistake/misbehavior idea has been floating around in my head for a while. Boomer just isn't the kind of horse who takes punishment well. Especially if he is trying to learn something. Correction for a 'wrong try' makes him shut down. I actually started thinking about praise after reading this post by Many Misadventures. I worked on that today and I praised Boomer every time he gave me a nice soft bend around my circle with his head low and neck soft. I was looking for him to balance and turn around the circle without looking off into the distance and at scary things. I did notice that he would flick and ear and soften when I scratched his neck and said 'good boy'. I really didn't know he would understand the praise. I'm not sure if it made a difference or not in his performance and I am not sure that he is or will become a 'praise motivated' horse but I felt good about appreciating him.
One other thing worth mentioning is that Boomer has a case of cracked heel on his hind left leg (white sock). Greasy heel, dew poisoning, rain rot, scratches, whatever you call it is fine by me! Boomer is prone to scratches and it is usually very treatable. I just pick off the scabs, wash with Hibiclense anti-microbial soap, and apply iodine. Sometimes it works without the iodine. Before we left for CA I had been treating all four of his legs with success except for his back left. I think that is got worse while we were gone and it was untreated. I had been trying Desitin on it before we left. Anyhow, it seems better today, but is still a huge pain (for both of us). He has a pretty good horizontal scratch/crack on his pastern. It was very crusty and red, now it is pink and mainly clean. I have been washing it every time I ride, letting it dry and adding the Desitin. I think it is helping. It is just frustrating being out of town so much right now because he isn't getting the attention I know he needs. Today it was still sore to the touch, had very little scabbing and was light pink. I am hoping it will heal this week, though there is so much dew every morning I'm not sure there is anything I can do for him.
Enough for now, I'm off to bed. I need to rest up before starting my journey to Manhattan tomorrow! I need to pick up my parking permit and books before heading to class.