Pardon the hiatus yesterday, I had a massive migraine that kept me out of the computer/horse/life game.
So an update from Tuesday, which was the first time I’ve been able to move Smokey around on the lungeline. I chose to use the rope halter for this, as I have read theories that the way they pull on horses heads is a little more conducive to stopping outbursts before they happen. I had Drew move the panels for me so we could walk down to the arena. No big change there. The moving of the panels seems to bother him a little, but nothing he’s going to shy from anymore. I led him down the walkway to the arena with no issues. He did want to go eat some grass, but even without the gates closed to the paddock, he came right along with me.
I had placed my training flag, lungeline and some carrots down at the arena so that I didn’t spook him by trying to walk with him with all this stuff. I swapped the lead rope for the lungeline and very slowly picked up the training flag. With the flag portion held to the handle, I showed it to him and rustled it a little bit. He didn’t like the sound very much. I led him out a little farther into the arena and stood away from him and moved it around some. He really didn’t like it. Remember that I’m trying to get him to respect, but not fear the training flag so a little desensitization to it is in order.
Lungelines are interesting.
After a while he seemed to grow somewhat accustomed to the flag, but was still really not pleased with the situation. I started to ask him to move around in a circle, which he took to pretty well. He seems to be better with the flag while he’s moving that when he’s standing and thinking about it, so I’m pleased with that.
Here’s a video of us working around a little later in the session. He’s learning to move off me a little more, but he’s already a little gate sour which is why I have to push him so much as he gets close to the camera. I know I’m no expert and surely I’m telling him the wrong thing half the time, but we’re getting there!
I did push him a little too hard twice and got one pretty significant freak out early on. He bolted towards the other end of the arena and I went with him, run-stumbling, but the lungeline following him didn’t do any favors. He ended up rearing, which I thought was about to turn into a significant bolting episode, but he reared twice, landed and then just stood there. I was able to climb up the lungeline and calm him down. We walked together a little after that while he calmed down. I then pushed him back out into the circle and we didn’t have any more dragging incidents.
Caught mid-freak out
He did bolt and spin once when I pushed him too close to the fence and he didn’t like the closeness of the training flag, but once I dropped it, he was fine and let me walk right up to him to apologize. I think he’s learning that I’m not going to hurt him, even when I have something as scary as a training flag on me.
I will say that having him on a lungeline would be a lot easier if I had a true round pen. I think there is some amount of spooking he needs to do to get it out of his system but I can’t really afford to push him that hard when I’m on the other end of a lungeline in a larger arena. If it’s not raining too much this weekend, I may take some panels down to the arena and partition it off so I can free lunge him (without a line) and let him get a little more antsy. I’ve made a deal with myself that once he can canter on the lungeline without losing his head, he can go out in the pasture. I think that will be this weekend or early next week.
Day 10 montage.
After lunging on Tuesday, I let him go graze some. One of the other boarders has a larger, bouncier and more vocal dog than Smokey has ever seen before and we almost had a bolt over me incident when she walked through the fence with him. I think dogs are something we need to work on in the future, but we’re taking baby steps now. Apparently Smokey is good friends with the owner’s small white dog (maybe a shit-zhu?). I was told she goes in his pen and they hang out. I’m just glad he isn’t trying to stomp her to death!