Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 20-26 : Making progress with the Halter

Monday- the rain was gone but the mud remains. I did my usual with Raven this morning and brought my hay and along with several tools. I brought with me gloves, training stick, and HALTER!!! Up until now I have been using only a lasso around his neck. Unable to handle him enough to get a halter on, today I have a plan! I now had Raven's confidence enough so that I can drag a string over his head and behind his ears while he eats his hay. (isn't it funny that I could do that on day three and I am now finally getting back to doing it two weeks later! Patience is a must skill when working with these guys. So the plan was to tie the strap that goes behind the ears of the halter to the end of the progress string on the end of the training stick. I would then use the stick to fish the rope around Ravens pole (top of the head behind the ears). From that point, the plan was to pet and rub Raven until he would accept me standing next to his head and neck where I could then slide the halter into place and secure it. So the first part of the plan took a few minutes but went off with out a hitch. Once I got the rope behind his ears, he stepped back a step or two in surprise but didn't undo my progress! I sat there a few more minutes and let him eat hay. On with haltering part two. I rose to my feet and started to pet my way back to the proper position to fasten it on. The hardest part of this is to get Raven to accept both my hands by his cheeks. Raven is still very much one hand on the rope life is good, anything else makes him nervous. After about 20 minutes of petting and desensitizing I managed to tie the halter!!! It only took two and a half weeks! We could say bye to the lasso and Hello to the halter and lead rope.

Tuesday- Now that I had the halter and lead rope on Raven :) and his leading was getting better, I felt it was time for a change of scenery. Today is the day to move to the round pen. Almost three weeks in the 12x20 pen I am sure Raven was ready to stretch his legs! I would like to say i just opened the gate and led him right to the round pen....but Raven doesn't follow a feel that well yet. I played the follow the food bucket to the round pen. Pictures tell more:

Give Raven Give!! Just follow a feel Pleeaase!

Breaking new territory. Slowly but surely.

We are out of the enclosure and half way there!

Almost home free! And no bolting!

We made it! Ravens new home for a while! Enjoy the space!

Wednesday- Moment of truth. Now in the bigger enclosure, when Raven decides to bolt he could keep on going. (not a good thing) So today I get to find out just how long his flight distance is. I started by leading him around and spanking the ground with the training stick. Yes he did try to go somewhere on a few occasions. To my relief he was not able to get away from me and once he got about 20ft from me he would stop and face me...Ok I can handle that! Once Raven got more confident about the stick I ventured on to touching him. I was able to touch all the way to his rump on both sides. He is still tight and untrusting about this and when I pushed my luck trying to touch his guessed he went. Guess we are not ready for that yet!

Thursday - When I am working with a horse everyday sometime it is hard for me to see progress. Today I did see progress. In a previous post I had relayed a story about Raven pulling my hat off and freaking himself out about it! Well today while I was hanging in his pen he came up to explore me. Once again he grabbed my hat off flopped it around a couple times and didn't panic! It is good to see a positive change.

Friday - I once was told that you can still get to the top of the stair case if you two steps forward and one step back. Today was a day that I had remind myself of that. I have now had the halter on since Monday. Until I can stand beside Raven's neck and place a lead rope around his neck without him bolting I will have to leave the halter on. I was hoping that by the end of the week we could be to that point but that is not in the cards yet. In fact the original halter that I put on Raven was a little on the big side and sure enough while eating his hay today his halter came off. So today's session was spent getting the halter back on. It was like doing everything that I have done in the past three weeks in fast forward. Get a rope around his neck, Get him to let me touch him on his cheek and neck, get him to let me run the string of the training stick behind his ear, be able to stand beside him and use both hands to tie off the halter. An hour later the halter was back on. This time I was sure to pick a halter that fit him!

Saturday - As I suspected, Raven was more skeptical of me after my session yesterday. One of the big differences between how horses think verses humans is that us humans are what we call direct line thinkers. This means when we have a goal we have a tendency to take the most direct route to accomplish this. Horses on the other hand are not, which means they have a different thought pattern on how to accomplish the same thing. With a lot of horses the more direct we are with horses the more they see what we are up to and try to make things difficult. Raven is highly sensitive to my focus. As soon as my focus turns to him his immediate response is to back up. Because I felt I pushed things and lost some rapport with him I decided to work more on contact working toward acceptance. He would only allow me to make contact as far as his rib cage on both sides.

Sunday - Another name for Natural Horsemanship is Balanced Horsemanship. I like to think of it like a pendulum of a clock. Your horse can start out scared and pretty extreme so you work on getting them confident and work on them wanting to be with you. Then the pendulum will swing and the fear has subsided so its time for dominance to rear its ugly head. And the pattern will continue until the swings become smaller and smaller and eventually the pendulum comes to rest right in the middle, not scared and not dominant but a partner working with you. Raven is great at telling me when I have spent to much time working on trust. This time as I was bringing dinner in to the pen and before handing him the bucket I wanted to pet his forehead. Raven had other ideas and lunged into me with teeth! Luckily my cat like reflexes kicked in and I was able to stay out of harms way. Needless to say it was time to work on our drive. Since he thought he could drive me it was time to remind him that I can drive him! So off I sent him to do some laps in the round pen. As I say to myself two steps forward and one step back equals one step forward!

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