Monday, February 5, 2007

New Mantra

Get Tough! Today Maddy came pretty un-glued. She did "ok" with the farrier. By that I mean her back feet were trimmed today, but it wasn't pretty. She was barely holding herself together the whole time. Andrew the farrier said he even found himself holding his breath. She had a hard time holding still even as he approached her. It is frustrating to see that. I felt like she was doing really well, but I need to do a lot more work. After the trim, she was a quivering mess, so we started our Monday lesson with some friendly game. We took it up a notch in sound and feel and she just lost it. Danced from one end of the arena to the other. Michelle said, "Julie, this horse is NOT desensitized to this!" To me, this is square one and we are right there again and I feel really defeated. She just could not stand still for anything, and she got herself worked into such a lather. After about an hour, she calmed down, but still twitching all over. I thought we were over this, but here we go again. Michelle says I walk on eggshells around her and I know I do, so I need to change this and demand more of her.


Rising Rainbow said...

What I hear when I read this concerns me. If you walk on eggshells areound her and the farrier holds his breath, both of you are telling the horse there's something to worry about. How can you expect her to have confidence if you don't? I know it's a hard thing to do, but all of my experience with horses tell me they give you what you expect. If you expect them (and have confidence in that expectation) to behave for you, they will. If you expect them to be naughty, they will do that too.

I expect horses to behave for me. Sometimes they don't, but usually they do. When they don't I expect they will come around to my way of thinking quickly and they always do.

I'm not saying that your horse doesn't need to be desensitized to what is bugging her. But I am saying that it all has to start with you and your confidence. Good luck. She looks like a nice horse.

Rising Rainbow said...

BTW Thanks for the inclusion on your blogroll, I've added you to mine.

photogchic said...

Thanks for the advice Rising Rainbow. I guess what I mean is that I work hard to keep her calm. I know what her buttons are and I don't push them. I need to start pushing them, because when other people take the lead rope, she falls apart. I think I have too much confidence in her abilities, which leaves me disappointed when she hits panic mode.

Patricia Barlow-Irick said...

I am very sorry to read about getting set back to the beginning OVER AND OVER. Hey, I've been there and it hurts! keep looking for the key to THIS horse, it will take you on a big learning path if you follow the trail.

You could try some targeting with those feet. That usually brings them around to thinking that they really like you to pick up their feet. All of my horses will come up to me and hold up a foot just to see if I want to look at them (and give them a treat).

If you want to try it, look for info on clicker training or targeting... check my blog for resouces.

Another thing I have done that was useful with a young horse was have the farrier work in the round-pen and when the horse is unwilling to stand, it can trot on the periphery. It's a good idea to have them a little bit tired of the round-pen work when the farrier shows up. You don't have to use a real farrier, just get another horse person to impersonate one for the purposes of teaching the horse. If I was there, I would be a very good farrier-impersonator, though I would have to find a snuff substitute to spit.

photogchic said...

Good points Patricia! I went to get a clicker today. I need to look into using it with horses. It worked wonders on my Cairn Terrier, maybe it will work on Maddy:-) I bought it just to make the sound of the nippers, but maybe I can find other uses for it. I wish our barn had a round pen. I know it would help me tremendously. Especially when I start getting in the saddle. Hopefully the Templetons plan to put one in this summer. I will keep my eye out for a good farrier impersonator as well. I would have to insist on REAL snuff, or it just won't do!