Monday, March 8, 2010

A Shock to the System

Thursday's spook near the gate turned out to be worse than we thought. What actually happened is the charge in the electric wire arced through the puddle, zapping Sham through all four feet. I was fine in my rubber boots. I was lucky in that all the work I did with Sham after that was positive and pain free.

Nevertheless, we discovered on Saturday morning that he would go nowhere near the gate because it had a large puddle on either side of it. So with my parents hoping to spend some time with him, it was rather disappointing to have to leave him in the pasture. I was able to get close to him and feed him grain, but there was no way he was letting me put his halter on. So we went and got Steen instead.

On Sunday we unplugged the electric fence and received some help from the barn owner. As a barn owner with decades of experience she was very helpful in catching Sham. She does have a different training philosophy than Robin and I, though, and we fear some of the post-catch antics caused a little backsliding in Sham.

Today was dreary and foggy, and Robin and I went out to the barn with the intention of making Sham want to hang out with us. I spent much of today reading about horses and watching some rather interesting training videos. In the back of my mind I hoped Sham would be happy to see me and come right over. But that was not to be.

Thankfully we had a strategy to work off of. I walked around Sham with a bucket of grain and made him very, very interested in me. I started by walking up to him, feeding him a little bit, and then walking away. We had some really good following this way. He let me get in lots of pets, too.

Then we stopped and got a very, very muddy Steen. He was also a well behaved Steen, which was nice. So the two of us double groomed for quite some time, but there was no getting all the mud off of him. We put him back out to wait for his dinner.

Then I went for round two with Sham. Initially he wasn't as interested in playing the follow game. But I started walking up to him and then past him. He didn't like this and started following almost immediately. I kept this up, and after a couple of feeds he had really hooked on to me. His body language was relaxed, he let me pet him all over, and he had almost no visible fear in him. I ended the day with one final treat and then walked away from him without looking back. He was still curious, certainly a good sign.

Sham is definitely going to challenge me, but in the end I think we will have a stronger relationship because of it. And in some ways it is a blessing to be forced to do this kind of work early on and not after some larger disaster.


  1. I've been following your journey with your new horse. I am not sure I've had time to comment, so if I haven't, congrats! There is nothing more rewarding than starting that journey!

    A few years ago, our electric fence was pushed against our panel fencing which lead to the tank & electrified the tank. The horses were very reluctant to drink out of it again. We watered them out of buckets initially. The tank was set up so that it watered two corrals. We decided to shut them out of the corral from the side they were shocked. Immediately, they started drinking form the "good" side! LOL!

    If we ever warm up and dry up, we can all ride more frequently. Anxious to follow your progress with Sham.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Tammy! As the beginning has been a bumpy one, it has helped reading some of your positive, and not so positive, horse stories.

    We have just been in Arizona for a week. I know the vacation was good for me, I just hope it was good for Sham, too. We'll find out soon enough. Updates will follow.