Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boomer will always be Boomer

Boomer hasn't had a 'pulling' back incident since we brought him home from the trainer about 16 months ago.  He did have two incidents where he dropped and panicked in cross-ties, but not pulling back.  

I still do not trust him and would never consider him 'cured'.  I always treat him as if he can and will pull back.  He still wears his 'Be-Nice' halter and is always tied fast with a cotton rope and bull snap.  

Today I was grooming him and he raised his head while I was spraying his mane with detangler, so I pulled on the lead rope to get him to drop his head and he resisted, so I held pressure strong while I continued spraying.  He pulled back and struggled.  I saw that the rope would hold and I took a step back so that I was behind the line of his shoulder and shouted at him to 'GET UP'!  He stopped pulling, stepped forward, dropped his head and started licking.  I gave him a second to deflate, then I approached him and rubbed his forehead.  

I decided to go get the clicker and a pocket full of treats and do a little training session.  I retied his leadrope to make sure it was still secure.  I approached him and started to apply pressure to the leadrope, he immediately pulled back again before I could even start spraying him.  I stepped back and shouted at him to 'GET UP'!  He stopped pulling and as soon as he dropped his head and started licking his lips, I clicked the clicker and gave him a treat.  

Next time, I started spraying him first, then gave him a click/treat without pulling on the rope.  Then I sprayed and pulled on the leadrope.  He stepped forward, but didn't drop his head- click/treat.  We did this a few more times and eventually he would let me spray him without raising his head.  Same reaction on the other side.  I was very happy with this.  

I think in the past when he pulled back, it really freaked me out and I would untie him right away and then baby him about whatever had freaked him out.  Today, my reaction was different.  I approached the situation by pushing his buttons and TRYING to get him to react.  It was HIS decision to stop pulling back.  I was there to reward, but I didn't try to make things easier or more comfortable for him.  All in all, I think it was a good lesson for both of us.  


Shanster said...

Cool - makes a difference when you have that mental shift doesn't it? Then you are more like "go ahead, make my day.." grin.

Funder said...

Good for you! and good for Boomer, learning to be a grownup horse.

It's hard to know when to baby them and when to push them to act right. Congrats :)