Wednesday, December 9, 2015

First Session with Cinnamon

Today I had a work day that started very early -- but allowed me to be home before dark.  A storm is moving into the area tonight and I wanted to help Brett bring the horses into the barn.  After bringing in the girls and Jackson, we headed into the boy's pasture.  Flash met us at the gate while Mufasa Cinnamon stood watching from a safe distance.  I walked over, in a matter-of-fact, unhurried way.  He watched me and quivered a bit.  I centered myself and focused on his energy.  I could feel him wanting to leave so I said "whoa" in a firm, even voice.  He stood and I praised him for being brave.  I ran my hand under his long, matted mane and scratched his withers before putting on the halter.  As I slid it over his nose, he reversed and ducked his nose out -- and trotted off.

Interestingly, Cinnamon put himself on a large circle -- maybe 40 meters -- around me.  So, I behaved as if I were lunging him at liberty.  He was confused at first, but then complied.  Brett was mucking the pasture and Cinnamon trotted over and stopped near Brett and the muck cart.  I walked over and was able to stand next to Cinnamon for a few minutes, before the quivering won out and he left.  I didn't attempt to do anything with the halter.  I just wanted him to relax with me standing there.

We did some more circles of trot and then he stopped in a far corner.  I approached and he stayed.  Again, I rubbed and scratched him.  He wanted to leave (I wish I knew what he was so worried about) but he didn't.  I put the rope across his neck and, again, told him to whoa.  This time I was able to slide the halter on without a problem.

We walked out of the pasture and up past the donkeys to the dressage court.  Brett had added some more wood barriers to keep the sand from washing away and I wanted to see them.  As we walked along the outside of the arena, Tuffy started playing hard in the pasture behind us -- galloping, bucking and farting.  I jumped at the sudden noise.  Cinnamon took one step sideways, away from me, and stopped.  He handled it better than me.

I was able to lead him all over the property on a loose lead.  He does have lovely ground manners.

Next we practiced approaching the tie rail.  This has been a constant struggle for Brett.  Mufasa plants his feet or runs backwards.  He does not like the black stall mats in front of the tie rail -- I wonder if they look like a big black hole to him.  We approached the end of the mat in front of the tie rail and he stopped, then took a couple steps backwards.  I backed him up a few more steps, then walked forward again.  Same thing.  So, I backed him up fast.  He wasn't thrilled with that and followed me right onto the mat.

Last, when I took him into his stall, I asked him to lower his head while I took off the halter.  He braced initially, then gave a few inches.  It was enough.  I took off the halter and gave him a cookie.

Its a start.  I want Cinnamon to understand the rules.  I have clear expectations about grand manners.  I want him to trust me while we work together.  Having clear boundaries and expectations will ensure that he is successful.  I want him to learn that he doesn't have to worry about things when he is with me.  I was pleased, overall, with how it went today.  It's a start.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like a very good start. A horse so lacking in self confidence - due to whatever happened to him before - really needs your consistency to lean on, and you're giving him that.

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  2. I didn't realize he was such a pill. I too wonder what is going on in his mind. So glad you are taking it slow.

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  3. Calm, kind, ssertive and consistent leadership is such a relief to anxious animals. It works with children too.

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  4. Somewhere, I lost Mufasa... I need to read backwards!

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  5. It sounds like an excellent day. He really gave you quite a bit of trust.

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  6. I'll have to catch up - new horse? If you're expecting the rain/wind storm that we've been having for almost a week now. It's a doozy! Batten down the hatches...

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.