Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Turn

Robin worked with Laredo for most of yesterday, so today it was my turn.  We found him in a low section of the big pasture, grazing with the Icelandics.  I went over to give Bleika some pets.  Laredo got curious, and for a second I thought he would come right up to us.

But no.  He got a little frisky and started running around the other horses, periodically stopping to graze.  I kept following him, applying more pressure when needed, but not really getting much closer to him.  After Robin gave Bear some of his vitamins, she came out into the big pasture and stood a ways off.  It helped keep him from running off in that direction, and after a moment he ran with Bleika up into the winter lot.

And that was really it.  No more running after that.  I slowly approached him, releasing the pressure when he looked at me, and before I knew it I was standing with him.  We spent quite a few minutes with me petting his face and him lipping at my hands.  I would rub his nose with the rope halter.  Sometimes he would back up, and I would just go with him and then remove the halter when he got his feet stopped.  It was hard for me not to rush things at this point and just quickly halter him up, but I knew taking the extra minute or two doing this would help in the long run.  And sure enough, I got him haltered with no problem.  It took half the time it did yesterday, so that is excellent progress.

Grooming and tacking were uneventful.  He was less tense than yesterday and was picking his feet up with ease.  When I put the saddle on him he was totally OK with everything.  Doing up the cinch he was paying a lot of attention to me, but I went slow with it and he wasn't bothered at all.

I opened the big overhead door with him there, and he was mostly OK with it.
In the arena we started off with some leading exercises and desensitizing to the rope.  I don't think he really needed that last part as it became obvious that someone has done a lot of rope work with him, but it was all good practice for me.  Especially since some difficult rope moments would come later.

I brought the stick in with me so that we could try using that to work on his ears.  In the beginning I was rubbing him all over, and then I worked up to his face and ears.  He loves the stick on his face, and he liked trying to get it in his mouth, but the ears were definitely not his favorite thing.  I got plenty of practice with rubbing the stick all over and following him as he tried to get away.  We made some progress with it, and later on when I worked my hands around his ears things seemed a little better than yesterday.

Then I started using the rope to work on his touchy head and ears.  I would swirl it up and over his head.  I wasn't very good at this, and it didn't help that Laredo hated it, particularly when I would stand near his left side (as if I was bridling him).  A few times he dashed away from me and I was left floundering after him.  Robin was coaching me to not let up on the pressure.  It took me a few tries to figure out how to follow him and keep swirling the rope around his head, but I got it figured out.  And sure enough he quieted down.  We got to the point where I could stand in near him and swirl the rope up his head so it would catch on his ears and he wouldn't shy away at all.  Definitely some nice progress.

Even when he would get a little riled up with things, he was always willing to come right back down and look to me for pets and comfort.  It was really neat to see.  It even allowed me to feel comfortable enough to play around with mounting.  I didn't get all the way on and ride, but quite a few times I slipped my foot in the stirrup and stood up into the saddle.  He never moved a foot.  This shouldn't be a huge surprise as he is started, but I know it was a nice confidence booster for me, and hopefully it helped him feel more comfortable, too.

We were also lucky to have our farrier show up.  He came by to replace a shoe for another horse, and he was more than willing to trim up Laredo after he was done.  I held him while Robin continued to ride Steen.  He was really quite good.  He pulled his right hind leg away just a bit, but nothing too bad.  Especially since he hasn't had his feet trimmed in a very long time.

When we put him back out in the pasture he was not inclined to go anywhere.  He played around with Steen a little bit, but always kept a close eye on Robin and I.

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