Double post today!
Today I wasted a good part of my morning relaxing. I’ve been going pretty non-stop so I needed a break. I’m also still waiting on my training flag that UPS says will be here Monday. Mary mentioned to me today that a bike flag from Target might be able to get me through the weekend and get him moving on a lungeline. I think I’ll have to pick one up this evening to play around with tomorrow.
I’ve also made the executive decision to feed him treats only from a feeder, not from a hand anymore. He’s been pretty mouthy in the sense that he puts his mouth on everything and feeding him carrots by hand seemed to have exacerbated that over the past couple of days. So – no more hand feeding. Maybe later in life, but for now we’ll stick to feeders. Similarly, I understand now what a friend of mine told me when she said her mustang had no sense of personal space. This guy not only steps all over his own feet, but would run me over trying to be close. While this is adorable sometimes, it’s something that we’ll have to work on. As he gains confidence in his surroundings and training, I’m sure this won’t be as big of an issue. I’m his herd right now and everything is new and scary.
I spent the afternoon grooming Smokey from head to toe. I finally detangled his tail and covered him in fly spray. We’re much more accepting of the fly spray today than we were last night, so that’s definitely a plus.
The situation has been resolved.
I looped his lead rope through a panel and made him stand while I continued to brush him. From time to time, he would put a foot up on the panel to scratch either that leg or his head. Now, I thought it was cute for about the first two times and even snapped a picture, but realized on the third time, when he got his ankle into the panel that we needed to stop that immediately. He spooked a little when his leg didn’t just slide off the panel. That could have been a big issue, so I’m telling this more as a warning to anyone else. No more “tying” to the panels. We’ll work on tying for real later. And we’ll work on cutting the pawing out.
This is a huge error in my judgement.
Relatedly, I’ve noticed that he’s been particularly ornery about his legs being touched, so I spent some time trying to touch them all the way to his hoof. His left leg seems to be more of an issue right now and it seems he has some kind of small fly bite on it that might be sore. Every time I try to touch his legs, he’s pawed at me or at least tried to. I slowed my approach to this and made a big deal out of it when he didn’t paw and we seem to be making progress. I haven’t gotten all over his back legs because, as you can probably glean, I’m a wuss about his back end.
Dad showed up later in the afternoon and moved panels for me and we walked back down to the arena. This time there was substantially less snorting and we only had to do a circle back into the pen once, which I think was more for me than Smokey. He was a little unsure of the walkway, but the gate to the arena, while scary, was not nearly the scene it was last time. We walked around in the arena again and let him say hi to the dogs through the fence. He just loves them.
I dragged him around a bit and managed to spook him just once. He kind of skidded sideways, but didn’t go far at all. He still won’t move away from the lead rope being spun at him or even plopped onto his flank, so we wandered around and just messed about a little. I grabbed the small, two stair mounting block and made him stand still as I tossed it near where it would be placed when I actually went to saddle him. I started by picking it up about 4 feet away and dropping it and gradually moved closer. He was startled for the first few drops, but was quickly fine with the situation. As it got closer, I had to keep a little pressure on the halter to keep him from backing (shocking) but he wasn’t really spooked by much.
When we walked back up to the pen, he led just fine with minimal huffing about the arena gate (which has been just one of the two doors opened these past two times). When we got to the gate to his pen he kind of dug in and let me know he didn’t want to go back. Sadly, there are a few panels on the far side of the arena that are pretty short, so I am not ready to just let him run willy-nilly in there. I want him to get moving on the lungeline first and see how that goes. There will be plenty of time for him to frolic when he’s out in the pasture. A little bit of pressure on the halter and my dad walking down to block the exit of the gate somewhat let him know that he had to move on into the pen. I put a carrot in his bucket in thanks. I hope that will be enough to keep him coming back without too much incident.
He’s a little more skeptical of things on his right side, so I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’ll definitely be spending more time on that side from now on. He’s totally fine with fly spray today and I covered him in it since the flies have been pretty bad the past few days. He didn’t even mind when I sprayed it up his neck and some of the mist got in his face.
Good progress for today. I think tomorrow I’ll aim to let him graze in a small paddock that has grass and see how that goes. I think getting him back into the pen will be difficult after, and I hope that it won’t encourage him to try to escape when I’m not around.