Monday, May 4, 2009

Miracles in the Round Pen

It's amazing.

This is not the same horse I started with a week ago. That horse couldn't go in a circle if you hitched her to a merry go round.

She ran like her tail was on fire and turned for no reason.

She stopped at the gate, turned her butt (more like side, like she knew her butt to me was really bad manners), never kicked, but certainly was reluctant to listen.

We've had four round penning sessions and she is now:

changing gaits when asked,

turning only when asked,

staying on the rail (after about two loops),

no longer stopping at the tree (where the other horse is standing)

going from trot to canter to trot (the down shift is still a little sticky, but at least it's there)

She is still testing with presenting her 3/4 butt, and taking a LONG time to join up, but I think I'm spoiled with Canyon. He's at least half joined up when he walks in, round penning with him these days is just insuring sincerity. And he never presents his butt, 3/4 or 1/2. lol

Lily, however, is the kind of horse that doesn't fake it. She's on, or she's off. And it takes a long time for her to be on. I think part of the issue is that Canyon is right outside the pen and she still gravitates to the horse - so we aren't just trying to join up, but also break away.

That's okay. This way I know she's really hooked on, even if it takes twice as long.

She's also dropping her head in response to pressure, finally. We got her a nice blue rope training halter and started to work on her dropping her head when I pull down. Initially she'd give after a good three minutes (no kidding). Now she's dropping her head instantly and I've gotten her head down to her knees.

"She's like a different horse," said Sierra today. I think she thought I was crazy if I thought this was a good horse for her. When she saw how nuts she was in the round pen that first time, she got a little worried. I told her then that I needed three weeks.

After a week, I think my estimate was right - if I can keep up the pace. And Sierra is hopeful.

This has been a magical experience for me too. This is the first time I've taken what I've learned and applied it to a different horse. I've never been the type to offer to work other people's horses, people are so ... possessive, and rightly so. So I've been satisfied to be a sponge, soaking up every bit of knowledge I can from everyone I see working their horse.

It's gratifying to not only get a better response from Lily, but to get a sense that she is calming because someone else is in charge. Like it's supposed to be.

She's still giving me a bit of a fit with her back feet. Not as bad as the first time I picked her out, but still...

Tomorrow she gets new shoes and, if she's anything like Canyon, she may get better with her hooves. Something about those natural balance shoes.

She and Canyon seem to be making friends too, and I hope soon they'll be turned out together. Some of the other geldings are running her around a bit. Canyon, in the meantime, is getting run around by an old arabian mare. Maybe if Lily and Canyon were together they'd just graze.

Mustang update
Here's an update on the Madeline Pickens' attempt at saving the Mustangs. Kind of interesting, looks like she's not "adopting" but offering to keep them on land if the gov't pays. Which wasn't the point, really. I'm conflicted, but like most things, I'm sure there's more to the story...

Btw, here's what I told Canyon was the internet in his stall. Don't tell him...


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

That's good news. It was probably just a matter of both of you getting used to each other.

Trailrider said...

Totally knew you could do it. And Lily is a good horse, she just needed some work. Keep us updated!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Such positive news. Kudos to you for keeping your focus and having such a positive attitude!

You two look good together. Keep up the great work.

Poor Canyon. I don't think that set-up includes WiFi, though....


Unknown said...

Nuzzling - I think so. She's pretty rusty.

Trailrider - hope I can keep it up! It sure was hot today!

Lisa - Thanks, she is pretty, isn't she? Canyon is pretty happy now that he has a mare for a friend, I don't think he'll notice the wifi is down. :)