Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feeling Better

Today Robin and I went to the barn with more or less the same plan as yesterday: she catches Sham and continues to work with him while I grab Steen and do an easy ride.

But things didn't quite go as planned. Some things were better, others not so much. We knew Cal was being picked up this morning by her new owner (a cute 13 year old girl who will no doubt dote on her for a long while; we think it a great match). But we didn't know her leaving would stir up Doc so much. And while Doc and Steen are no longer in the same pasture, the distance wasn't enough to stop Doc's stressful cries from making Steen anxious.

In some ways it was amusing. Steen is very good at the ground work games we put him through. So good that he can do them in his sleep, or as the case may be, in times of stressful anxiety. So while he ran around with a bunch of energy, head held high in the air, emitting the occasional call, he also went through some of the fastest disengages and backs I've ever seen. I didn't know what else to do with him after that. So I just let him graze furiously on the strip while I hung out with him. He wasn't too stressed to eat, but he wasn't relaxed about it either. He would bite, lift his head to call, chew, and then step to bite again. Also amusing.

The good surprise was that Robin caught Sham in 10 minutes. And she probably could have done it faster, but she didn't want to push things. When the two of them joined Steen and I on the strip we thought it best if I had some positive hangout time with Sham while he grazed and Robin got Steen to relax. He is very, very much her horse. So I stood with Sham and alternated petting him with the stick and watching Robin and Steen.

Then we traded again. Robin proceeded to continue Sham's lessons (he's getting better at them everyday), and I did some more groundwork with Steen. He had stopped being anxious (mostly due to Robin's calming effect, but it also might have helped to have another horse nearby), so it was a little more fun running through the exercises with him. Still, doing groundwork with Steen can get boring. Even when I get the signals wrong he knows what I'm asking for and just does it. So after a few minutes I let him graze in the new grass (like me, he can always use the extra calories) and continued to watch Sham and Robin.

Things went great. And after we were done we put both of them out in the feed lot. Together. For the next month we'll be keeping Sham in the feed lot. Its amenities include less space, fewer horses, and daily interaction with people that will feed him yummy things. We think this will help with getting him to want to come to us.

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