Sunday, December 4, 2016

4th December, 2016 E-moting

It's not easy negotiating a tall Thoroughbred mare and a haynet when working with a leggy foal, reputed to charge and bite or turn and kick, but much better than separating them or depriving them of food. The dam was a steadying influence, and the hay was a useful distraction.

Flower's owner, Claire, an experienced horsewoman and breeder,  had been flummoxed by this foal, Busy Lizzie, that has never had anything bad happen to her; no manhandling, no incidents with fences, and a nice life with a herd made up of all shapes and sizes, ages and sexes. She has refused all touch and time and patience have simply not worked.

The deadline for her micro-chip has marched forward and Claire needed to have a head-collar on by next Thursday. With limited time and no idea of how long it might take, I said I would go on a Sunday to make sure we had time for a return visit if necessary.

The feather duster seemed to soothe her nerves, gave me an idea of her reactions, and meant I could work at a distance. Nevertheless I did get the odd fierce glare. On the face of it she is not afraid of anything but of course this could all be bravado.

When she offered to rush at me and bite I did use some stronger body language to ask her not to, nothing aimed directly at her, more being spikey on the spot! This did give her pause for thought and very quickly we were able to work together nicely.

The key to this foal seemed to be the quality of touch; she hates light touch. I used deep flat touch instead and was soon rubbing her shoulders and neck and then using a light hand to trace the bones of her face. The head-collar itself was then no trouble at all.

With those guidelines in place, and a routine to follow, her owner was able to follow suit and put her head-collar on and off three times in a row.

With this looking very promising it meant that Lizzie doesn't need to wear a head-collar all the time in readiness for the vet. Claire is going to practice every day and if she needs help I can go on Wednesday to put it back on again ready for the next day.

Today I have enjoyed the company of Abigail, who owns several horses and two mules of her own.