Monday, November 21, 2011

Rondo reminds me he's still a baby

Horse lying down to sleep

I've been surprised and thrilled at how easily Rondo is settling into his new home, but he still reminds me now and then that he's still a baby.  Sunday, for instance, I pulled him out of his corral when it was dusk — he let me know he was rather afraid of walking around the property in the dark.  He managed to contain his fear enough so that he didn't try to bolt, spook, or jump on top of me, but he did his very best giraffe impression and snortest the loudest I've ever heard from any horse.  At times like that, when he plays giraffe I mean, I am reminded not only that he is still a baby, but what a BIG baby he is.  And it makes me even more glad that he's not a jump-on-the-human-when-scared kind of baby, like Panama was (and still is at times).

Today instead of a lesson, my trainer and I practiced some trailer loading with Panama — he hadn't loaded for well over a year, but he did fine.  He got on relatively quickly, and then my trainer worked on teaching him to load himself.  To my utter amazement, he actually walked onto the trailer without her.  A couple years ago, I would have told you that hell would freeze over first!

I also worked with Rondo a bit today.  Before my trainer arrived, I had him out of the corral for about 30 minutes.  Once he got up from his nap (see picture), he played a little "catch me if you can;" but I grabbed a fistful of mane, so he assumed he was caught and let me halter him.  I then led him around the property for a bit, chatted with other boarders while he stood on the lead, and put him in the cross ties.  He informed me after about 10 minutes in the cross ties that his attention span had been exceeded, but to stand there patiently for that long (and on as busy a day as today was — people and horses coming and going constantly!) was pretty impressive in itself, I thought.

After my trainer left, I remembered that we have the farrier coming on Wednesday, and I hadn't picked his feet in about 3 weeks (the last time being when I was in Kiowa to work with him one last time before I started my new job).  After another (briefer) game of "catch me if you can," I put him in the cross ties again and picked out his feet.  I was impressed with how he did — not only was he in a concrete building (most horses are scared of those cross ties at first, even the well-trained ones), but he hadn't had his hooves picked in weeks.  He didn't fuss or fight a bit, though.  He has yet to figure out to put his rear feet back when he picks them up for me — he draws them straight up and gets very tense — but he no longer kicks or tries to shake me off.  He'll be a pro at it before much longer.

He also has figured out the gates now — that he needs to follow me out and turn around while I close and latch the gate — and actually put his head down so that I could buckle his halter today.  He's been putting his nose into the halter willingly enough, but then he puts his head back up for the rest, which is aggravating because he's so damn big — but he shows signs of figuring out how to help me with that too!

All in all, a wonderful, successful horsey day!

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