March 05, 2016

Making the connection

Another day of working on tying, and things are starting to click. I started by going over her with the shedding blade and curry, so that she wouldn't have the excuse of being itchy to be fidgety. Not that I usually make excuses for my horses' behaviour, but I'm trying to set her up for success. We had a couple of reminders about standing still, but nothing major. Then I stepped away several horse lengths and let her figure it out. *gulp*

She started out fiddling with the knot in the leadrope. I have a feeling she's going to wind up being one of those horses who unties herself. I had to go back several times and tighten it up because she almost got it undone. I don't want to lock my knot with a horse who I know may pull back! Every time I stepped away again she tried to follow, and was stopped by hitting the end of the rope. The first few times she leaned on the rope, but without freaking out or frantically pulling... just followed me until there was resistance and she couldn't go any further, and stood there with the tension. Squeaker used to do the same thing. Gossip seemed to be thinking things over when she did it, and then she deliberately took a step forward and released the tension. HUGE praise!! There were several "rinse and repeat" cycles on that, with lots of praise every time she stepped forward. I think it won't be long before I feel comfortable turning my back when she's tied, and then we'll hopefully be able to graduate to a flat halter. 

The next thing we're going to have to work on is wanting to paw when she's tied. She doesn't really paw, in the sense that it's not repetitive and her hoof isn't hitting the ground, but I don't know what else to call it. She lifts one front leg and stretches it up and forward, almost as if she was taking the first step of Spanish walk. She holds it up and waves it up and down without touching the ground. Then she puts it down and switches legs. I know it will progress to pawing if I let it be, and I need to nip it in the bud. I've been giving her a verbal correction (she knows it means wrong answer) and if I'm close enough I tap her knee as she's first raising her leg and she puts it back down, but when I've stepped away a few horse lengths she knows I can't reach. Next time I'm out I'm going to bring my dressage whip, and maybe my lunge whip as well, to give me more reach.

She was looking longingly at her herd on the other side of the fence. The connecting gate was open and she could have gone and joined them, but she generally won't leave until I'm in my car. If we're in the same area she's attached to my hip, and if I'm outside the fence without her she stands at the gate and watches me.

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