Monday- Raven has definitely been one of those horses that make me get out of the box with my horsemanship. The biggest trial that I have with Raven is his huge personal space bubble. Getting to the point where I can take the training stick and toss the string over his back with out having him drag me while he back away has been quite the challenge. So my thought was lets put my more seasoned horse in with him and let him be the example. I grabbed Pi, my seasoned warm blood and put him in the round pen. I then stood him and Raven side by side and began to toss the stick and string across Pi's back in a way that I would also brush Raven's top side in the process. This was relatively successful. Having Pi in the arena and me focusing on him really took the pressure off of Raven. Raven is very sensitive to any focus directed at him. This strategy greatly reduced his need to pull back and drag me. I still never got to the point where I could toss the rope over him only, but that will come.
Tuesday-I added Pi to the mix again today to continue my strategy of taking the focus off of Raven but still be working with him. As I am sure I have mentioned before if I have a goal or an agenda when I start with Raven, he knows it, and his opposition reflex will kick in. Like the day he got his halter off and it took 45 minutes to get it back on. The next day he was more stand offish because I got more direct line. I would stand Pi next to Raven and rub all over him then turn and stroke Raven. When I was ready to change sides I would put PI on the other side and do the same thing. I got to the point where I could touch both front legs and his rump. And for the first time I was able to pet Raven's next with both hands! (at the same time)
Wednesday- I did more of the same..adding Pi to the mix. This time about half way through the session I slowly phased out Pi from the ground work and focused just a on Raven. The Pressure seems to have been easier to bare then a few days age.
Thursday- Raven spent some time tied in his usual spot. During that time I groomed him head to hip. Not quite ready to accept contact in the tail region yet. Again We worked on me touching him with both hands at once. I have to laugh about this, in his eyes life is good when one hand is on the lead rope! If that hand comes off the lead rope...can't handle it!
Friday- We branched out! We left the round pen and hung out in the arena while I taught my morning lesson. We even ventured into the upper pasture where Raven welcomed the opportunity to graze. We even got so brave as to walk through the barn hallway. This was a slow process, we would take a few steps and stop, take a few steps and stop. Once we got to the other side of the hall way he did his wolrd famous schooch through the doorway back out into the open.
Saturday-we took the day off.
Sunday-We went back to the arena. I have given up on the "i should be able to touch Raven all over before I start to put pressure on him" theory. Raven does not play by traditional rules, this I have figured out. So i decided that maybe I should make him move his feet and show more leadership... maybe that will boost his confidence. I played the game of put your nose on it. I simply send him to an object and have him put his nose on it. He caught on to this idea very quickly. Pretty soon he was picking different things to explore in the arena. Once he got comfortable with this I had him squeeze between me and the fence.