Sunday, July 31, 2011

Toadie Toad Toad

I went out to the barn this afternoon to give Sinatra some time out in the pasture and work with Toad a little.  She starts her five-day-a-week formal training a week from Monday so my homework this week is to "get out every day if possible and work with her and bond".   We had a nice time today, she was very good as usual with grooming even though right on the other side of the wall another horse was galloping full speed around the arena being free lunged.  Toad was perking her ears up and getting tense in her body like "Hey - are we supposed to be running now? I don't want to miss out!" So I just talked to her and said we were doing our own thing and didn't need to pay attention to what the other horses were doing.  She did very well at calming down and eventually ignoring the ruckus on the other side of the wall.

Lunging started out really great and she was doing everything I asked with calm, graceful transitions between her gaits.  Then I switched to go the other direction and she started doing that thing where she'll walk around part of the circle then just turn in and walk up to me and stand there like she's the most exhausted horse in the world and can't possibly work any more.  I know it's BS because at that point we hadn't worked hard enough for her to even break one bead of sweat.  I just kept sending her out on the circle and it just kept happening.  Over and over.  Twice I had to stop and say "We're just going to stand here," because I was so frustrated.  No one has ever taught me what to do in that situation so the second time we were "just standing there" and I was staring out the arena door because I didn't want to look at her or give her any inclination I wasn't frustrated with her, I had an idea. 

I sent her out on a really short lunge line, so short that when I held the lunge whip up and straight out it was only a few inches from her shoulder, and I had her walk in a circle like that so that when she tried to turn in towards me her shoulder would bump into the lunge whip I was holding up and pointing toward her shoulder.  Sure enough she started walking in a circle just like a good girl, so I let the lunge rope out longer and longer until she was walking in her normal large circle around half the arena!  Then I quit with that because I thought it was a very good, happy note to end on.  I was very proud of both of us for working that out!

I told her she had earned her "treat" which was to be let off the lunge line to run and gallop like a crazy girl around the arena if she wanted.  But she didn't want to.  She just wanted to go nuzzle with Rolls, whose stall is next to one side of the arena, and roll a couple times and eat some hay that had fallen into the arena by Roll's stall.

Sinatra was also on very good behavior today (comparatively for Sinatra behavior) and enjoyed his time out in the pasture.  I have noticed he is definitely not biting as much.  I hope that holds over even after he transitions to live somewhere else.  When the farrier was doing his shoes yesterday I said I hoped I wasn't going to be yet another bad foster home that they regretted sending him too and she said she didn't think so and that even though I wasn't that experienced, the ground work I have been doing with him is paying off.  I hope so!  Since he's been with me he is really good at coming to me in the pasture, he leads really well and gives me personal space (the majority of the time as opposed to the minority of the time) and he is biting a lot less.  And he doesn't rush the stall door at all when I go into his stall now either.  He actually politely steps back when the door opens.  So, I hope our few months together did do him a little good even if I don't have the skills or experience to help him move on to the next level of gentlemanly behavior.

Here are a couple photos of Toadie from today.  The lighting was awful.  But she was being very cute with Rolls.  And yes, I'm getting her a new halter that says "Toadie" on it since the barrel racing halter is really not her style.  I'm going to give that back to her previous owner when her new one is delivered.

                            Rolls and Toadie love each other.  They are just about the same age.

                                                   Rolls does not like to be ignored.

She could be running around galloping and acting race horse like but after work she just likes to hang out by Rolls and today there were bits of scattered hay to snack on.

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