Sunday, October 12, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

No, Pony Girl is not learning the cha cha cha. Instead, I had another interesting weekend with my horse.

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.


  1. I love your hair my dear! I had that cut a few years back and then short and then and then...I am a hairdresser and we do like change, at least I do, my hair grows like a weed!
    WOW, your boy is resistant to catching mare hates to move so, she won't let me pick up the training stick! She just knows...your butt is gonna move alot if that happens!
    Good work and sorry you missed the game..darn it all.
    I like all the angles and the colors in you photos.
    Good eve~

  2. Hair is awesome!

    Hang in there. You are searching and trying new things. No one ever said the journey is easy. It’s a journey. Enjoy it and relish it. Once you think you have “got it” you will find there is SO much more that you crave to know.

    I will say it again. Parelli is the start, but there is sooo much more beyond Parelli. Seek the true masters and you will find so much more.

    Feel, timing, balance. But it is all really about feel, because without feel the timing and balance mean squat! ;)

  3. Love the "do" PG! Makes me think I need to do something with mine.;)

    Sounds like you are making progress with your Appy Pill. Time and repetition, cures most problems, at the very least it makes them manageable. Kudos to you for working out a solution that works for you and My Boy.

  4. Great hair!

    Maybe it's this fall weather that has them goofy. Poco's being a PITA to catch too. He keeps looking at me with one eye, as if to ask, "What is she up to?" And they've been resting and pampered since they got home earlier this week. I've only visited them for pats, treats or grooming.

    My two are due for worming also. I have the paste, but haven't gotten the ambition to get out there with it yet.

  5. Good haircut- it really suits you! It's great that you're taking time to work on this haltering resistance slowly and patiently. It will pay off because My Boy will learn to trust you not just about this but everything else as well. There was a point a few years ago where Siete decided out of the blue one day that she hated to have her ears touched. I used Linda Tellington-Jones's TTouch exercise of rubbing and massaging her ears and now she loves it. We do it all the time to calm her and also so she doesn't resist when halters, reins, etc. touch her ears.

  6. Love the hair! And your sweater looks cozy, too. At least you had one relaxing day with your horse and the weather was great this weekend!

  7. Good for you for sticking out the haltering issue! Too many give up too fast and end up "teaching" their horses that they CAN decide when they will be caught. You played his game and you won by letting him know you're the one in control, not him. You're the lead mare, not him, and that leaves and impression.

    Cute haircut!

  8. Beautiful Photo! You hair is great! My daughter is a hairdresser and she wears her hair close to the same look! All hair only does what it wants to do, most hair is worst that your horse! HA :)

    Love your blog! May I add it to my blog?


  9. Keep at it lady! He's testing you right now, but once you have this figured out you'll be a better leader for him. Good luck!

  10. What a smart little pony you've got there, PG!

    I agree with everyone else, hang in there...this too shall pass. :)Bummer that you missed the football game!!

    He knows EXACTLY what he is doing, and he will eventually realize that it is easier, and more fun, to be your pal.

    LOVE the hair! Mine is in desperate need of a good cut right now too.

  11. Uh that sounds so frustrating! Keep it up though don't let him win! Our ponies love applesauce too!
    I think your hair looks great! I wish I had ny long hair back! :)

  12. Soooo appaloosa! Been breeding them since 1983. Once you've won him over to your side, you'll really have something that can't be beat.
    You should try the liquid dewormers. The volume is much smaller and it mixes with grain with very little effort.

  13. Love you new do too!

    Keep up the good work with My Boy!

  14. I like the hair cut! It looks great! And it is great that you did not give up on Your Boy!! He must just be a little stubborn. I bet he will be easier to catch in no time.

    My horse won't eat apples. I have tried to feed them to him and he just doesn't like them???

  15. Weet Whew!! Look at you pretty girl! Or should I say Pretty Pony Girl!! I love your hair, so lucky to be blonde!
    Your boy is trying your patience! Keep up what you are doing. You will win. It will ready you for Cowboys! LOL!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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