Day 4: Halter Hater

It’s finally dry-ish!

Last night I arrived at the barn after work to find my dad in the pen with Smokey petting him and feeding him. I think he’s a little starved for company, though several of the barn folks have been feeding him and generally messing around with him during the days when I’m not there.  I think he’s starting to come around to the idea of people; it keeps his mind off the fact that he’s still alone in his pen. I think catching him in a bigger paddock might be a challenge for the first few times, but we’ll get there.

I had about a half hour to mess around before I had to run to a much needed girls night, so I went right to work throwing a rope around his neck. He’s totally fine with it being around his neck, but still a little hesitant about anything touching his face on the front and nose area.

Starting off with the rope aroudn his neck.

To get a little more done without irritating him too much, I pulled him around by the neck rope and did a couple of circles (generally just moving around his haunches, which is great since I hope he’s a reiner in the making). He dragged me a few times, but he’s small enough and the footing has improved enough that I can plant my feet and pretty much stop him so long as he doesn’t get in front of me and get his butt in my face. I’m not confident that he wouldn’t love tap me with a back leg to get me to let go.

Circles are good for the soul

Speaking of love taps, Dad mentioned to me that Smokey had basically bit his shoulder while he was petting him. I suspect that he is rather mouthy (and possibly a little more likely to kick) because that’s how the wild horses communicate. They tend to be a little rougher with each other than I want him to be on me. I bruise easily. So we’re working on keeping the teeth out of the question and we’ll work on my confidence near his butt as time and logistics allow. I’m still hesitant in the paddock due to the closeness of fences and feeders.

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Mouthy man (yes, that first one is him trying to eat the phone)

So, in the 30 minutes I had with him last night, we made some big time progress: I got him to drop his head and let me put a rope around his neck and a loop around his nose. I tried to get him to lead a little from the nose area, but he pulled pretty hard the first time. The second time I relied more on the neck rope that I also had on him and he seemed much happier. He also let me rub his nose and forehead without pulling away, which is significantly improved from the jerking away he was doing in the past.

Finally, with a rope around his nose and my hand on his face!

He’s still awfully skeptical of the rope halter, but the lead from it seems to be a good stepping stone. He is, in fact, so disillusioned with the halter that he pulled it off the fence twice and threw it around a little. Baby steps.

My new found barn family is certainly helping out. Mary and Anna have been attempting to feed Smokey carrots and other treats with mixed results, but Mary informed me last night that he FINALLY took two of them from her yesterday! I thought he just didn’t get the concept of eating a tuber, but maybe he was just holding out on us. He is rather stubborn (like mother, like son?). Anna has been in the paddock petting him a few times and he seems to be pleasant enough to be around, so I’m pleased with where he is right now when I factor in all the muddy conditions and the hindrance to training that really levied.

Tonight we’re going to work on the halter more. I’d really love to get him into the arena so he can see more of the other horses and pay a little more attention to me. I’ve ordered a training flag from KO Traders and should receive that within the next few days. If you subscribe to the Buck Brannamen school of thought, this will just be an extension of my arm when I go to use it. It most certainly won’t be used to whip him or scare him into doing that I ask.

I also was a little ambitious and ordered a headstall that I need to get a bit for. I think putting it in his mouth sooner rather than later will really benefit us both. Ultimately I want him to ride in a bosal just because I think that’s a generally more humane way to ride. I also fully expect him to be moving off my legs and body weight instead of needing more rein and bit. That is if I can figure out what I’m doing and teach him to move like that. I haven’t settled on a first bit for the headstall yet, but that will get sorted out this weekend.

I’m in the midst of trying to outline a decent deworming schedule. There is some really interesting reading out there from various authorities on the matter. I guess I missed the memo on the fact that there’s about a million different parasites I have to worry about and just as many dewormers to choose from. Any input you guys have would be appreciated. Right now it seems like during the summer months here in Atlanta I won’t need to deworm much, if any. Aside from that it looks like I’ll need to do it about three times during the heavy grazing months.

This is just a preliminary stab at this. I plan to do a bunch more reading before I go shooting drugs into his mouth. I also should probably have a halter on him at that point…

I would like to get a vet out to do a once over, but we’re again held up with this whole halter breaking situation. Can’t just have a vet stare at him from five feet away and declare him healthy. I’ll get them to check out his worm situation, as well. That should help dictate with what and when I need to worm him.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to share a close up of his freezemark. This is basically his social security number. Thankfully for him, he doesn’t have to memorize it. The freezemarks us the Alpha Angle system instead of numbers and denote his registering organization, birth year and ID number. His is a little blurred, so any guesses at what it says are more than welcome. I believe I can confirm when I look at his papers.

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About smokeythemustang

I'm just a girl who loves horses, who's asking horses to love her back. Right now I'm training a wild mustang. Or he's training me. You decide.
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