Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunny winter day!

It was a gorgeous sunny day here in CT today. The high is 25F, but the sun is shining so its just gorgeous out there!

I snuck in a little time with my gal today. I had two ideas of what I wanted to do. First I thought we would work on temperature taking. Lakota is quite resistant to the, ummm, intrusion. So I thought that would be a good ground exercise to work on, that wouldn't entail too much movement with the poor footing.

Lakota was quite excited to see me come out to the paddock at a non-feed time, and she nickered to me. Then when I came out of the door with her halter in my hand, and my fanny-pack of treats, I got a really big nicker, because she knew then that we would be having some fun! She strolled right on over and stuffed her nose in the halter as fast as she could.

Well, color me surprised, but we were finished with that exercise in less than 10 minutes! We went into the stall and after about 3 clicks and treats, the thermometer wsa inserted, and she never moved an inch. Didn't squirm, fuss, fidget, nothing. I even worked a bit on duration, and kept it in long enough to actually take her temperature, and had to deliver her treat with an outstretched arm while still holding the thermometer in place, and she still didn't move a foot, and stretched her neck to meet me without moving feet. I'm so proud of her"!! It was as if she has been fine with this all along, and that is just not the case. If a horse can clench up their butt checks, then that is what she did, because there was no way you were getting that thing where it was meant to go if she had any way out of it.

Then I wanted to take a walk in the yard. Lakota hasn't been out of the paddock since late August or early September. So before I take her out to ride, I wanted to re-walk the yard a bit so she gets re-familiarzed with things. Historically, she can get a little snorty when things are new. But not so today! She strolled right down the hill. She stopped a few times to stare and blow, but she remembered the exercises we worked on last summer. I allow her to stop and look, and then she gets a treat for relaxing her head/neck and coming back to me. So I waited for her to do so a few times and she got her reward. Then I ask her to come back to me a little sooner than she offers, by just lightly jiggling the lead. Most times all I have to do is touch it and she comes right back, but for bigger scary things it can take a bit of a larger jiggle. She's a pretty sensitive girl, so my effort is always to not over-do it with her. She is a less-is-more kinda gal.

We strolled all around the yard, checking out all the nooks and crannies. She got excited when she saw the backhoe parked in the roundpen, because she loves to go touch it and get a treat. She thought that was the coolest thing when we first got it, she snorted at it and wasn't sure what it was all about, but she got a treat for being brave and investigating it, so now she can't wait to go touch it and show me how brave she is. We are weaning off touching the backhoe, though, lol!

Then one of the dogs noticed we were out, and came charging over to the fence barking. She looked but that was it. She offered to circle around me down near the garden, she remembered that in the summer we worked on my asking her to move calmly and listen to me in strange areas of the yard. So as we headed down to the garden, she offered to circle a couple of times. I did discourage this, because there is about 6 inches of snow on top of about 2 inches of ice, and its a hillside, so not a good idea.

But we did head back up to the flat area in front of the equipment barn, and she again offered to circle for me, so she walked and trotted some circles there and was quite proud of herself. She got a treat for carrying herself nicely and not moving strung out (which wsa her habit prior to working with her, likely her 25% TWH heritage).

Then I asked her to disengage her hips on both sides a handful of times, then we attempted to yield the forehand. That didn't go so well, but we'll keep working on it. Then it was time to head back up to the barn. But each time I started to walk back to the barn, Lakota would trot on ahead of me, then circle right in front of me and stop crossways in front of me so I couldn't continue walking! LOL! She didn't want to go back, despite April, Whinney, and Jen calling incessantly and beating on the gate. This happened 3 times before she finally dropped her head and moped back to the barn.

So we had a really great time, and I was just so thrilled that she remember all the things we did during the summer, even after its been so darned long since we've done anything together


Funder said...

Oh, that's such a good feeling when the horses WANT to come play with you! I'm glad yall had such a fun day :)

Michelle said...

Yes, it is a good feeling, Funder. But I will say, that that good feeling comes from a lot of hard work. Lakota didn't come to me wanting to play! As a matter of fact, I could not even catch her or get a halter on her for a full year.

Maybe I'll do a post on that next -- some ideas and thoughts on how to create a horse that wants to be with you. Cuz, all my readers may like that. Both of you ;-)