Hi, I'm Ev. I'm training to become a horsewoman. These are my adventures and misadventures. I'm green as hell, but so far, so good. I'm now learning from Bo (and sometimes his wife DeDe) at D&D Ranch in Pope Valley. I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity, I feel quite blessed, and I feel that they, and horses, have really turned my life around.
Solomon is my baby- a big old flea bitten grey Appendix gelding who is very kind and way too smart! I love him so very much. He is a rescue and was meant to be co-owned rehabbed, and maybe rehomed to a good home. He turned out to be over 25 years old with injuries that ultimately do not make him riding sound, so he is retired.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Progress, woot.

Yesterday I spent a good amount of time with Solomon, tending to his hooves and grooming him.
Then we worked on saddling. The squealing and kicking really is behavioral at this point, and so not okay... luckily (and unluckily) he's a pretty smart horse. So we spent time with my lightest saddle, which really weighs nothing. I can carry it on my head without thinking about it.
He squealed when I touched his shoulder with it. He squealed when I put it on, and took it off. Yeah, not buying it, guy. So he responds best to positive feedback. We started with me putting it back on when he squealed, to show him that it wasn't getting him out of saddling. So he was watching me when I picked up the saddle and he did not squeal. I gave him a "good boy" and stroked his crest.
Then I got out the carrots.
If I put on the saddle and he didn't squeal or twitch, he'd get a little carrot piece. As always when carrots are involved, he caught on quickly. Very soon, I could put it on, take it off, wiggle it, and mess around with it without him reacting... except to crane his neck around and make "gimmeh carrot" lips, haha. After doing that for a while longer, the lesson was over.

Here you can see him nice and relaxed, hoping for more carrot:

Afterwards I took him out to the pasture and we did carrot stretches. I always end with the "kiss me" trick. I walked a little ways away and looked back, and there he was with his head upside down between his legs, foot tilted on the toe, mouth hanging open for easy carrot insertion. Hahaha. Nope, I didn't give the command, silly boy, and I was out of carrots anyway. But hey, if he wants to stretch his back without me telling him to, he's welcome to it. That horse is full of hopes and dreams, I tell ya!

I know that a lot of horsepeople are against hand treating, because it can make a horse pushy, disrespectful, or even nippy, but with Solomon it really seems to be the most effective means of training him, so long as he is reminded to be both trusting and respectful. He nipped me once, back at the old place last summer, and only once. That's all it took for him to learn that nipping mom was Not Okay. He hasn't tried again since.


Puh-leeze said...

I don't want to get into the food-as-reward debate, either yay or nay. But what I do want to know: what's going on with that towel?

Evergrey said...

Haha, I was waiting for someone to ask, actually!

That is the hoof with the crack in it. I had just washed it, and was letting it dry clean. The cross tie area for the paddock barn is all dirt, and when I'm trying to clean out his hoof, which takes some scrubbing with water, if I put it down on the ground it just gets muddy again. Sooooo I put a towel down, and then it stays clean and dries off faster. Then I scrub it again with a toothbrush full of iodine solution.

He is a very good patient when it comes to stuff like this, believe it or not! The only thing I have to soak his hoof in is a deep, narrow bucket, too, but he lets me stick his foot in there with minimal complaint.