Friday, May 27, 2016

27th May, 2016 Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I set off to see Crazy this morning with a very simple but clear goal in my mind which was to see if he would accept the bit about half way up his mouth. I was going to replace the Vetwrap with which had been covered as it seemed to be a bit manky but thought that I would see what Crazy thought about accepting the bit without any cover on at all. Bless his cotton socks because not only did he place his mouth around it (I let him choose what he does and reward him when I like what I see) but he allowed it to go halfway up as I had hoped.

For me that was good enough for today and having repeated it about six times I ended the session. He has made clear and thoughtful progress each time I have worked with him.

Today I had taken the added precaution of working with a barrier between us, not that he has done anything that makes me worried about him being close. However it shows how far he has come because he always has the option of putting his head inside the stable and refusing to engage at all.

Twizzle may have just about reached a plateau with his work for now but still does something new each day. Following on from yesterday's athletic endeavours he learned to jump the barrels and the pole.

Compact and somewhat sleepy stallion out on the Forest on our way to Bashley this afternoon. He had a fine harem of mares and seemed enormously content.

Young cob Jessica is not nearly so nappy since the work we did during our first session. Rather than using her reins against her coat, we presented Nichola with a wip-wop rope to try out. Light weight and light coloured, the wip-wop is great for providing a visual and audible cue and can be used to back up a light squeeze with the leg and verbal encouragement.

We progressed to walk to trot transitions along the lane away from home.

Nichola's youngster, Bertie, hasn't had a lot of handling and is convinced that his legs are private. Like a lot of cobs he has a few moves that he uses to put people off from attempting to pick up his feet including threatening to kick, striking out, snatching his feet away and leaning, hard!

The feather duster is a great way of introducing foot work and teaching the horse to keep his legs DOWN first of all. Bertie wasn't at all convinced by the white feather duster and so I swapped to my own purple number. Having desensitised him to that all down all four legs, I was able to do the same thing with my own hand and then introduce a signal to ask him to pick each foot up. He was still inclined to kick with his back legs and so I used a shepherd's crook just to lift them up for a second or two. Again he can kick this without it going away and learn that this strategy is no longer working.

All of this behaviour is the automatic, non-thinking, instinctive behaviour or a prey animal convinced that he shouldn't give away his means of escape especially to a predator. We need to show him that the behaviour is not needed and that he can easily balance himself on three legs.