Saturday was my no-catching My Boy day. For real this time. I had a hair appointment in the morning and a pizza party that evening, so I just had a bit of time to stop in and visit him. It was a lovely fall day. He was a little jumpy when I went into the pasture (I guess I've donned my Halloween costume early or something, who knew? Or maybe it was the new haircut that had him spooked.....) I fed him some treats then he wandered off to the back of the pasture to finish off his breakfast hay scraps.
I picked out his shed, tossed rocks, wandered around him. He was very curious as to what I was doing and did approach me on occasion. Once again, I went outside the pasture, called him to the fence line, and visited with him. I really got him thinking, what is she up to? I went back in and visited him again. I held him by the underside of the chin and led him back down to the gate. Here, while I was chatting with Paint Girl's significant other, My Boy hung his head over the gate, being Mr. Friendly. We turned and walked back up to the house. I looked back to see what My Boy was doing. Although I hate to read human thoughts into a horse, he bobbed his head against the fence and pawed the air, seemingly wanting to follow us. I felt good about leaving him wondering why he didn't get to come out. Eventually, he wandered back up to his hay. I felt like it was a good experience for us both.
Sunday started out another sunny fall day. My Boy was munching on hay scraps in the back of his pasture again. I whistled and called him and he immediately headed down to the gate. I had the halter, but kept it on my shoulder and used the "moseying" approach with him. He definitely was looking for handouts. He let me rub him but I could tell he was edgy. He came right to the gate and comfortably let me get the halter on his nose and slip it off. I was trying to be as non-threatening as I could considering my intention to catch him. He walked away, then came back. I was able to get the halter on his nose again, but as I went to buckle the crown piece he jumped back and trotted off. Uh oh. I knew at that point this was not going to be an easy day. I fetched the longe whip and lay it by the gate just in case. As I tried to approach My Boy again, he turned and walked away. I went back and got the whip. For nearly and hour and a half, we played his game. Except I was mostly in control. He galloped and bucked from one end of the pasture to the other for a few minutes, then he settled into free longing around me in the back half. I controlled what direction he went, I kept him moving, I asked him to whoa. He was huffing and puffing. I gave him opportunities to rest, let me approach, and halter him. When he was resistant or moved away, I figured he wasn't tired enough and off he went again. We did this over and over.
At one point, I was able to get him moving by just walking into his shoulder. He'd move away, but pivoted on his hind end. He wanted to kept his left eye on me (left-brain, that stubborn eye!) At one point of going around and from side to side, and then basically walking beside me, he stopped and kind of dropped his head. I was able to halter him without ado. Did he just give up? Is it because he was tired? Or knows that I will wait it out? It was so frustrating. I even missed the whole Sunday football game! Luckily the chili was still warm in the crock pot! Next time, I am taking a cooler of snacks and drinks out to the pasture. One needs sustenance when sticking these things out! Paint Girl did comment later that she was surprised he free longes around me like he does. Indeed, it is strange. Most horses will run from one corner of their pasture to the other, anything to avoid their person and being caught.
Once out of the pasture, we went to the grooming area for a brushing, then up to the arena for some cooling out and groundwork. He remembered the Parelli seven games quite well. Interestingly though, near the end, I had the rope over his neck and I noticed that when I went to pull it over his ears, he panicked and pulled back. I do not think there is anything wrong with my horse's ears, he has been weird about reins being pulled over his ears from time to time. I am careful to always do this gently, not yank them over. So, we worked on this today. I got him to relax. He knows how to drop his head with the slightest pressure on the bridge of his nose and poll. He'll drop it all the way to the ground for me (but not keep it there for long.) I would gently get him to lower his head and remain relaxed as I removed the rope one ear at a time.
After I was able to take the rope off over one ear at a time without panic, we left the arena for some hand grazing then back into the pasture.
Horsey dinner time was around the corner. It is also paste worming time. I decided to try mixing it in the grain again. It worked last time, but it was also an apple-flavored gel wormer. This time, it was a sticky white paste. I mixed it in his little bucket with a cup of applesauce:
And a chopped up apple:
The result looked a bit like a mash.
I took it out to him and lo and behold, he ate it all up and licked the bucket clean!
Mmm, mmm, good!
Finally, it seems I have found a solution to the paste worming nightmare, for now. I do want to work on the applesauce in the tube method as well, I think that will be one of my goals next summer. I am all about picking my battles at this time. If I caught My Boy and brought him out for paste wormer in the mouth struggle right now, trust me, it might be a year before I catch him again!
Monday night, I am attending a Parelli study group. I am very excited about this. The woman hosting has emailed another friend to borrow the Parelli DVD on horse catching for me. I thought that was nice. We'll see if the video offers any suggestions aside from what advice I've already received or tried.