Friday, September 3, 2010

Fancy footwork

I worked some more with the colt yesterday. Working with Rodeo on some of these early things — such as haltering and picking up his feet — is very different than working with Panama was. I am learning how much of a difference there is between unhandled and manhandled. A lack of handling is much easier to overcome than issues from rough handling!

When we arrived at the in-laws' house, I went right out to the pasture to see Rodeo. I gave him a couple of treats and rubbed his neck, then turned around, intending to go inside and visit for a few before working with him. But he immediately started following me, so I walked down to the round pen — and he followed me every step of the way. In fact, I had to shoo him off so that he wouldn't walk on me.

(Now that he trusts me, it's time to start establishing the concept of personal space...)

I timed the haltering process, and it took well under five minutes to get it on him the first time today. This really shows how far we have come, since it was only the second time I'd had it on him! I took it off and put it back on perhaps half a dozen times today, and before long he was standing patiently for it.

I also worked a bit on picking up his feet. His front feet I was able to pick up while he was more or less at liberty, with the lead rope draped over his neck and one hand on the rope. He is a bit reluctant, I think because they are probably sore from being too long, but otherwise doesn't seem to mind. My sister-in-law held the lead rope so that I could pick up his back feet, and that was more challenging — he tends to kick a bit, not to kick me but to try to shake me off, like he has something stuck to his leg! But I wouldn't give him his foot back until he stopped, and he learned that pretty quickly. What surprised me was how quickly he translated that to the other side when I picked the other foot up. He is a very smart horse!

Rodeo is starting to show more of his personality now. He is very playful and mouthy, and likes to grab lead ropes and halters in his teeth. (We are working on not grabbing me in his teeth, which is becoming more of a problem now that he is more comfortable around me.) We've also seen him grabbing the other horses' tails when he wants to play.

He also, as it turns out, really likes his back and rump scratched. After the first time I did it, he started asking — he walks slightly past me, so that I am even with his back, and then takes a deliberate step toward me with his rear end.

Unfortunately, after taking this step he is literally standing on top of me, so we have been working on respecting personal space. I'm teaching him to move over when I nudge him in the ribs and say "over," and only once he's at a respectful distance will I give him scritches. He caught on quickly, and after a few times of that he was more subtle about asking. I'm also teaching him to back up when I ask, and he is catching on to that too. He already knows whoa about 95 percent of the time, although I think he may be responding as much to my body language (when I stop moving, he stops) as to the verbal command, which is okay with me.

I am so pleased with all of the progress we have made. The farrier is coming next week, and I believe we'll be ready! Oh, and by the way, it turned out I was right when I suspected he was older than a year — the brand inspection paperwork, which my in-laws just got, puts him at 17 months this month. So once the farrier visit is done, next on the to-do list is GELDING!



At September 5, 2010 at 8:24 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You've got yourself a very rewarding project there.


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