Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rain! Yay! Mud! Ick!

Since our Labor Day trailer loading labor, we've been experiencing something unique.


This is not the soft and gentle rain of autumn. This was God kicking over a bucket of water and drenching the place with 10 inches in three days.

We managed some trailer loading, and one short bare back ride but that was it. 

But I've been thinking of Kate's 15 minute rule. It's tough to find something to do that doesn't involve getting out of the small alley way at the barn, but I decided to try something very, very simple. I'm experimenting with a focus. It seems particularly important because I sense I'm losing Cibolo's focus. Understandable. He's got a new home, has made friends, is settling into a routine.

I'm not taking it personal. But I do need to redirect and refocus him.

Basically I wiggle the lead rope in an annoying way until my horse looks at me and then I stop. This is not the wiggle back up thing. There's no real energy from me. This is just a wiggly jiggly annoying thing. 

With Lily I've had limited success. She'll focus but just for a few seconds. And its reluctant. Still don't have the right rhythm with her.

With Cibolo we went from distracted to a solid 30 second stare. It took 10 minutes.

Today, after I did the feed and muck duty, I did some trailer loading with the trainer. This time Cibolo did pretty well, but Lily was worried and had a hard time. And that's with the trainer at the controls. 

Yesh. (Actually I loaded Cibolo myself.)

So the journey there continues. I'm taking the truck over there tomorrow, moving the trailer and loading them. Driving down the  road about 12 feet, then unloading and loading again. 

I desperately don't want to give up. But sometimes it's discouraging. With every horse it's something. And I'll take trailer loading over bucking. But it is getting tiresome. And like so many things, if we don't really have progress in the next month I know we'll be less likely to go places because the hassle factor will be high. 

I know they take their cue from me, potentially. Then again, I had a horse that loaded fine and I certainly didn't bring any anxiety to the party. But I think it's in the punch bowl. 

Anyway, I hope I read this a year from now and can say "wow. that was a pain. I'm glad that's over."

Maybe by the 25th they'll be ready to hit the road. Which would be good, 'cuz I'm trying to organize a trail ride on the 26th. 

Any takers?  No location set yet, Bandera maybe?


Anonymous said...

Don't think too far ahead or be in a hurry to get somewhere - just focus on each day. Have a plan - we're going to do x - and work towards that - it it turns out that x is too far/too hard, then do x-1 or x-2 or whatever it takes to make the tiniest amount of progress. If you can get a couple of repetitions of x-2, then try x-1. Stop when you're ahead. Every tiny success you have will build the relationship with the horse and allow for better success down the road. Be delighted - even super delighted - with each small bit of progress. And don't worry either if you have set-backs or the horse has small upsets or worries - this is an opportunity for you and the horse to learn together and build trust.

You'll get there. It may take a lot of time, but when you do you'll look back and say it was all worth it.

Life at Star's Rest said...

I love the Hill Country Natural Area! We rode there a lot when they first opened it to the public and all of the trails were open to riders. It was pretty spectacular and I remember mixing riding and swimming to cool off. Fun stuff!

I'm sure you'll get there with your equine kids. I've had good success using basic clicker training with horses who are extemely food reward motivated. Didn't know if you've given that a try yet. All of ours get basic clicker training of 'stand' 'step up' 'touch' and so on. It isn't something we do forever or get crazy about, just part of foundation ground training that comes in handy in some situations.