August 28, 2016

Clearing the Air

After the fiasco last time, Gossip's breeder gave me a hand this afternoon. When I caught her, I grabbed a buddy as well. Yes, she's herd bound, and while I'm not a fan of that and know it will need to be worked on I decided it's better to address one issue at a time.

So on today's agenda, getting the foot situation figured out.

Well for one thing, it turns out that I ask for feet differently than her breeder and farrier do. That part was easy enough to fix... just teach the human (me) a new "trick." Once we got our communication figured out a bit better things started to improve.

At one point she tried her pulling back routine, and I discovered that my reaction was making things worse. Not really a shock, but there's a gap between knowing you need to do something different and knowing WHAT to do. When she starts that, my default reaction is to yell "quit" and tug on the leadrope. With my last mare, Squeaker, that was enough to startle her and snap her brain back into her head and she'd come to her senses. With Gossip being much more reactive than Squeaker was, that does not help. Apparently it works (much) better if I give her a minute, and she figures it out on her own and steps forward. Fair enough, lesson number two learned.

Then there was the little matter of her not necessarily taking me seriously when I ask her to do something. Gossip is a Quarter Horse, and bred to cut cattle. She is very reactive, but she's also a real thinker. Squeaker was also a Quarter Horse, but not bred for anything in particular. She was literally the product of one of those situations where the humans thought both horses were "pretty" and bred them solely based on that with no actual plan or direction in mind for the baby. She suited me, but that was a fluke in a lot of ways. She was less reactive than Gossip, and also less of a thinker, so I didn't have to stay as far ahead of her mentally. Other than that, most of my experience has been with Thoroughbreds, Very different horses mentally! Gossip's reactiveness has made me less firm with her, and that's left her uncertain of what I want. She doesn't want to be wrong (I've seen that same thing in her dam) so she defaults to not really responding at all. Then when I get after her for not responding, she gets upset. Not helpful! Breeder helped me see that if I'm more firm and clear initially she understands me better, and we don't proceed to the getting after and confusion on her part. Now the trick is going to be to implement all of this going forward, but I know I can do it. I just have to stay further ahead of her mentally....

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