Training Day 5 – 60 minutes
Today I had another glorious taste of all the wonderful things horses teach us when we teach them correctly. There’s no better reward for all my sweaty hard work than seeing her get something — that *I* taught her! Nothing will replace this feeling.
First I took Powder into the round pen to move her feet. We’re both doing way better at this. I’m able to keep her driven and she’s able to keep up momentum in the correct forward direction. She is turning to the inside too, which makes me super happy. That’s one major progressive maneuver right there! She is not hooking on but perhaps I’m just not doing it for long enough. I don’t let her stop whenever she wants, she will go until I’m satisfied she’s performed well enough but she just doesn’t come to me yet. When my back is turned now she will simply stand there. She’ll listen to this and that, look here and there, but she is firm. Prior to now if I eased up and turned away she’d just meander off and pick at the grass. At least now, I can tell I have more attention. I see her inside ear on me and I see her understand that I don’t want her stopping her feet in those certain spots, and she will trot through it on her own now.
I noticed a while back that Powder is afraid of the wash rack and I really want to see her get over that. What I did was walk her toward it so I could gauge how bad of a reaction she really had to it. She would pull on the rope and rear a little bit, nothing major but it was clear she was putting her foot down on the matter. Okay so, I walked her around the wash rack a few times in each direction before I’d ask her to follow me over it again. We continued doing this a few times until I saw her offer to walk around the rack while I was standing in the middle of it, so I turned it into a mild lunging. After more tug of war, I changed my approach and instead of trying to take her directly across it I asked her to simply take the corners. To my everlasting joy she ended up with her two front hooves resting on the concrete corner and I just let her sit there for a good while. I even gave her some praise rubbing on her neck and face and just let her relax and soak it all up. “You see Powder? Nothing is out to get you. And I bet you don’t even notice!” I said to her. After she gave in that little bit I walked her around the rack again a time or two and asked her to cut a little more of the corner. If she wouldn’t I would just readjust myself so that I could pull her in a different direction and then I’d ask again. With confidence, a gentle but assuring voice and not backing down, I got her to walk all four feet across the concrete! She did not freak out as she did it and she didn’t try to run across as fast as she could. I immediately rewarded her with verbal and physical praise and allowed her to stop there. I was ecstatic and still had more to ask of her and she’d been doing so well.
It was my first goal today to give her a deep cleansing bath because she had managed to get especially dirty this last week. Her mane was crusted together in clumps of mud and her body was covered in dry muck of the same kind. Girl was over-due for a good sudsin’!
I already know that Powder is shy about the hose. At my barn we have a nifty homemade PVC pipe attachment that has holes drilled up it so that the water sprays out in a line of little jet streams, almost like a shower, if a shower were shaped like a yard stick length pipe. I always start at her front feet and work my way up to her chest/neck area and then go down toward the back feet and up the belly to the flank. She only reacts at the flank, and today especially, because she has a nice little booboo from Scarlet right on the right side of her rump! We played a little doh-see-doh around the spray before she’d quiet down but quiet down she did eventually! After I scrubbed her down with the body wash I brought her back for a good rinse. She was not as busy in the feet but when she did move I persisted and waited her out, and encouraged her to relax a bit more by giving slack in the rope and letting her eat. I gave her permission to do this so she could associate a good experience (getting to eat) with a not so good experience (being blasted with water in strange places on her body.) It worked well and I’m looking forward to seeing how she does next time without the food incentive.
My goals changed from my last entry by the time I’d had her out for a while but that’s okay, I am happy with the steps we took today. I know I’ll have to break down today’s lessons and go back and solidify each one individually and next time I go out there I’m going to single out that wash rack and really get her going over it with no hesitation. I’ll take her around the round pen for longer too because I really want us perfecting that.