Sunday, January 3, 2016

Building a Bond

Yesterday was cool and cloudy, another storm system is building.  I wanted to work with Tex, though, so I put on my jacket and gloves and headed to the pasture.

"Hi, Tex"
"Oh, its you."  Tex swung his haunches away from me and then walked over.  As I lifted my arm to drape the rope over his neck, he took a nervous step away from me.
"Whoa, Tex.  No need to leave."
"Okay, I won't."
I always wait for him to drop his nose into the halter.  I think its less stressful for him if he chooses the halter, rather than it being forced on him.  I walked him up to the tie rail where my tack box was waiting.  I didn't tie him, I just draped the rope over my shoulder and proceeded to groom him.  A couple of times, he backed up, away from the tie rail area.

Lucy sees trolls in the dressage court.  Tex sees them at the tie rail.  Our property must be a real troll city.  They seem to be everywhere.

When Tex backed up, I kept him backing beyond the point where it was what he wanted.  Then we calmly walked back to our grooming spot at the tie rail.  I was able to groom his left side with no trouble.  The right side was more problematic; he is very nervous when you are on that side of him.  At one point, he stretched his nose towards my face and without even thinking I kissed him on his velvet muzzle.
"Holy crap, woman!  What are you doing!!"  and he jumped back.  Poor Tex, I think it was his first kiss.

We worked in the arena for awhile on the lunge.  As long as I was to his left, he went fine.  But having him go to the right was another story.  He respectfully declined.  He wasn't rude, he just kept swinging his butt away from me instead of moving off.  Part of it was not understanding, and part of it was not wanting me on his right.  I took off the lunge line and decided to try it with Tex at liberty.  That way, I could be further away from him and hopefully he could figure it out without being stressed.  We went left, the easy way first, and he was good as gold.  Then I asked him to turn -- he thought about it and then took a few tentative steps in the correct direction.  I praised him and he kept going.

Afterwards, I tried putting his long, thick copper mane into a reverse braid.  Keeping the tangles and dreadlocks under control is a huge challenge.  I used a reverse braid with my Friesian and it worked great.  I start at the withers and French braid up to the poll.  It is important that the head be down so the braid doesn't pull on the neck when they eat.  I used to braid Auke in his stall, while he was eating.  I led Tex over to some grass and got to work.  I did a fast, loose braid because he really wasn't sure about the whole thing.  By this morning 90% of it was undone.  I had expected that; the first braid was just to get him used to the process.

I worked with him again today.  Catching and haltering are easy peasy now.  I was able to groom both sides with him ground tied.  He only backed up twice.  We put Flash and Tex in the arena so they could roll in the sand (their pasture is a muddy swamp) and then I re-did the braid.  This time, it went much better.  I was able to concentrate on getting a better braid in place and he wasn't worried about me fussing around while he ate.

Oh, and I kissed him again.  Twice.  He liked it.


  1. Poor Tex, he doesn't know what he's in for.

    I think you are good for him. I wonder if a blocker tie ring would work with him?
    I had to teach Irish to stand with just the rope draped over a rail because he would panic when tied

  2. It sounds like he's doing wonderful. You're showing a real sensitivity to picking up on, and working through, his weak areas. I bet he's loving the attention...and the kisses.

  3. The kisses are winning him over!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.