Wednesday March 4, 2009

I start with the round penning Tequila does great but likes to stay at the rail when she faces up. I can approach her, so for now that will do; hopefully she will start to approach me. She will stand in the middle with out being tied. I can lift all 4 feet, bop her with the fun noodle, play with her legs, and saddle her. I repeat all the saddle wiggling & jiggling then I step up into the stirrup. I go to the other side and repeat it all over again. I swallow hard and sit in the saddle; I’m just going to sit. I’m not asking her to move off but I will move around so that she gets accustom to a rider moving above her. I don’t push the issue I get down and mount up from both sides several times, she is quite comfortable. I think that is fine for now, besides Ray is working on his boat on the other side of the stalls. If she gets silly & dumps me no one will know until dinner time.
I work a little on her backing and no problems there. We go over & around a few obstacles she has no problems with them. I unsaddle her without her being tied again she just stands there.
After Sunday’s ‘words’ I decide to go back to loading Tequila into the stock trailer.

OH NO!!!! We have issues Tequila is no longer willing to load into the trailer on her own. I load her but I have to use pressure from behind in order to do so. This not good…….

I want to make her want to get in the trailer so instead of just loading & unloading I’m going to give her her feed & hay in the trailer. She can eat in the trailer while I scoop poop and water everyone else.

Sunday March 1, 2009

Selma came out to help Ashley with Tequila. Tequila’s been coming along nicely. She accepts new obstacles quickly without much reaction. However, there are times when she feels she’s had enough and will let you know she’s done.
Ashley got on Tequila bareback with a rope halter bridle while Selma had additional control with a lead line. Horses that are new to having a rider on their backs don’t have the balance they need right away. They walk very slowly and it looks almost as if they are drunk because they aren’t exactly sure how to handle someone on their backs. Someone once put it to me this way – imagine if you are trying to hold a tall flag pole in the air and walk around with it – and that is what the horse feels like. Today was the day of some quiet leading while Tequila was getting used to Ashley’s weight and learning how to balance. They did turns and walking straight as well as walking over the mattress with Ashley on board.

Ashley even used the rope halter/bridle to stop her, back her and turn her head. She put some “leg” on her to get her to move forward as well. Tequila handled it all very calmly and they decided that was enough with the riding. Now…..onto the trailer!!!
Tequila has been loading on and off the stock trailer with ease. Ashley and Darlene decided to start loading her into the big enclosed trailer. Darlene (as well as many of us) feel it’s better to get your horse used to loading in any kind of trailer in case there is an emergency and they don’t have a choice but to get into someone else’s trailer.
Tequila at first hops right in, and THEN decides that she really didn’t mean to load. She would put one of her front feet into the trailer and then decide that she didn’t want to be there and back up very quickly. She ended up being loaded a couple of times and Selma figured she’d had enough at that point.

Darlene came out later in the afternoon and worked with Tequila – picking up all of her feet and touching her all over her body. Tequila used to flinch every time you touched her, and now she’s much more comfortable with it. Though she still flinches at certain points on her body – she’s MUCH MUCH better. Darlene decided to work on the trailer again. But before she loaded her, she had Tequila step up on a heavy plastic pallet and walk over a wooden “bridge”. Tequila demonstrated absolutely no qualms about those obstacles. It was like they weren’t even there. Good Girl!!

Darlene and Tequila had some “words” about the loading. It seems like she loads great at the beginning and then fights it, but eventually gives in and loads up again. She’ll be a pro before long.

Saturday February 28, 2009

I work on getting Tequila to face up to me ……she will, but she still stays on the rail. I walk up to her & pet her shoulder, and walk away. She follows. I get the halter on her and walk her to the middle of the round pen. She stands there and allows me to run my hands all over her body. I know the facility where the Gatorland is to be held & the stall aisles are narrow so I want to get Tequila ready for the accidental bumps that may occur. I bop her all over her body including her tummy with my handy dandy fun noodle. She stays standing there flinching in place.

I want to get some backing practice in so that is what I will be focusing on today. She loads like a charm into the stock trailer, but has difficulties backing out. I have her get her 2 front hooves into the trailer make her back out. I repeat that several times then I want to have her load all the way in. She steps up with her 2 front feet & backs out by herself. {Smarty pants} Now I have to get her to load all the way and back when I ask her to. I don’t want to keep going over the same things so as soon as she loads and backs out twice for me we move on to something new. I have her go over a few obstacles in the yard, then to the big 4 horse slant. I ask her to load into the trailer; she does but only her front feet. The trailer is darker inside and the doorway is narrower so I’m allowing her to get comfortable with the trailer rather than having to push her to load. I wanted to end there but Ray says ‘You just can’t stop there. You need to have her load all the way’. So he gets about 10 feet behind her and she steps right up into to the trailer. She stays standing in the trailer very calm and relaxed, I let her sniff and touch what ever she wanted to. She backs out of the trailer extremely fast but as soon as her front feet touch the ground she stops. Just to make sure she has the load concept I load her once again but I still need a little pressure from behind. Hoping that in the next few days she will just step up without needing the ‘help’

Friday February 27, 2009

Poor Pat turned all the horses out only to be told that they needed to stay in…….

After cleaning up around the yard, I again play with Tequila. I have several areas that need to be worked on today including getting Tequila to approach, and backing.
Tequila is now turning and facing up but stays at the rail. I can approach her, scratch her shoulder, turn and walk away. Tequila will follow and she will stay with me….YAHOO!! I walk to the middle of the round pen and put her halter on. I go to pick up her feet; she moves off. Now she has to do a couple of laps around the pen. I settle her back down & bring her back into the middles. Again I attempt her feet….I can pick up all 4 feet; bop her with a fun noodle……she stays with me. Next I saddle her still with out a lead line….guess she figures if she stands she doesn’t have to work.

I work her over the obstacles with the saddle on. I jiggle what can be jiggled on the saddle, flop the stirrups down. Although she gets anxious a few times she settles right back down. I get her to flex her neck left and right, the right side being a little harder. I wiggle the saddle and step up into the stirrup from the left side…no problems. I go to the right side and repeat the saddle wiggle, step up into the stirrup. I’m by myself so I do not attempt to get sit in the saddle.

Backing will have to wait until another day.

Thursday February 26

I’m working on getting Tequila to face up to me ……she will but she won’t leave the fence. I can walk up to her, pet her shoulder, and put a halter & lead on her. Tequila is still hesitant on approaching me, yet she will let me brush her all over. She goes over all the obstacles with no problem. Tequila is still having issues with being by herself when all the other horses are turned out, but she is no longer attempting to jump the panels. We’ll count that as progress made!
Since she has been so good with all the obstacles I’ve given her so far, I decide to bring out the “BIG GUNS” – which in this case is a bubble machine. If you have never used bubbles as a desensitizing tool for your horse, I suggest you give it a go. You are probably thinking that bubbles should not scare any horse. But they do! We’ve used the bubble machine with many horses and there might have been ONE that accepted them calmly. So, I set up the bubbles for Tequila; turn it on, and……. NOTHING!! She doesn’t even pay attention to them! (Maybe I’ll try a helium balloon next – they’re as bad as bubbles!)

Sunday February 22

Selma came over in the morning with her “bag o’goodies” (training equipment) to help with Tequila. She had to head out to work afterwards and could only be there for about an hour or so. Tequila seems to enjoy our bomb proofing equipment and really liked sinking her teeth into the twin mattress we set out for her. You could tell by the little bits of fabric and fluff around her pen. Selma proceeded to round pen her for several minutes to set Tequila’s mind that this is a training session and to keep her concentration focused on Selma. The surcingle went on and some neck bending and leg picking up exercises and now we are ready to put our own human crash dummy/stunt woman (better known as Ashley Stevenson) on the horse.
Ashley grabs a large bucket to step on and proceeds to hang over Tequila’s back much like a sack of potatoes. To be safe, Selma is leading Tequila and makes sure to have a good grip on the rope so she can stop any attempt to run off. After a minute or two of leading Tequila in this manner, Ashley decides it’s enough – that is her ribs can’t take the punishment anymore.
Selma then helps Ashley with a foot up onto Tequila and now she’s sitting on the horse properly. Tequila seemed kind of confused as to what had just happened, but she wasn’t scared or even concerned. Ashley started scratching her withers and Tequila enjoyed that immensely. That’s when Ashley realized that one of Tequila’s shoulders was much more muscular than the other one. That’ll probably even out with consistent exercises.
So far, so good. Tequila seems to accept Ashley’s weight and movement with ease. Selma leads Tequila a step or two, then stops and lots of petting and kind words. This goes on for about 3-4 minutes when they decide Tequila has done very well for the day and ends the riding session.
At this point, we unload the trailer with all the bomb proofing equipment and throw some more into Tequila’s pen. We have an upright with some fun noodles attached and a PVC pole with a large pink plastic tablecloth taped to it. This is to be used as a doorway, but Tequila didn’t like that door very much! That’s okay – we just leave it in the pen and let her get used to it.

Saturday February 21

Ashley pulled the twin mattress into the round pen. (We try to acclimate all of our horses to walking over all types of surfaces without (much) hesitation. This way, if you are on a trail and you come across an obstacle that must be crossed; your horse will probably be more willing to go over it. This is a lot better than either dismounting to move it or having to turn around and go back.) Tequila’s tail went straight up into the air and she ran to the other side of the pen. She looked at the mattress and gave a couple of snorts and then proceeded to walk to the mattress and step all over it. Ashley round penned her, caught her and led her over the other objects (heavy plastic pallet, wooden bridge, several different kinds of tarps) and Tequila had no qualms about any of the objects. Ashley can play with her feet and can brush her whole body. Ashley does jumping jacks next to Tequila and plays with the ropes around her body and Tequila handles it all very well.
I have Kahlua in the 20 x 20 working on getting her to face up. I am now able to get on both sides of her. I can brush her to her rump. We really need for her to allow us to play with her legs…….I take her into the round pen and introduce her to the mattress and other bomb proofing ‘stuff’. Kahlua is not overly concerned with the objects but does require some coaxing to step on them.