Thursday, February 26, 2009
In yesterday's session, Kasper (having not been away from his buddies for ten days) was skittery again, worried about what might be down the road, or what might come roaring up the road. Every time I led him down the road a litte way--and I mean a little way, like ten feet--when we'd turn around he'd try to dash home as if demons were nipping at his heels.
So today I focussed on getting him comfortable with turning in a calm manner and not dashing off. I led him down the road, made him do lots of turns on the hind quarters, and then stood him and flapped the flag around him, which seems to relax him. I stood him facing down the road, and made him stand facing home (which makes him more nervous). We did the turns both ways, backing up facing both ways, and lots of flapping. He didn't dash off once today. Yay!
I've added a new link that has a brief description of training a young horse to harness. Their method took about two years. That's the kind of timeline I'm prepared for, since Kasper has big confidence issues, and since I'm willing to take as long as he needs to be comfortable with every stage.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I found out I passed Stage One of the natural horsemanship courses I'm taking. Yay!
Today, Kasper and I took a step back, since I haven't worked with him for ten days, and we just did some ground work. I had him walk parallel to me down the road, making him stay at the other side of the road, and had him stop whenever I stopped.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It appears, in the video, that I magically cued Kasper to stand up straight and hold absolutely still for the flag routine, which is pretty cute. But in reality, he's staring at my car which is parked on the road ahead of him in a place where there usually aren't any cars. The flag is nothing new, but that car sure is!
After the flag routine, I did ground work with him for a while and then we headed over to check out the car. He wasn't sure about it at first, but after several minutes of walking all around it and nuzzling it, he became quite friendly with it. I now have green tinged lipsmear marks all over the hood and down the fenders!
Today was much better than yesterday. Kasper was calmer and only had one little crowhop. I might just attach the reins and try ground driving tomorrow. We'll see!
Monday, February 9, 2009
I harnessed him up and did some ground work in the usual spot near the barn where he can still see his buddies, and then I started moving him further down the road toward the house (where the car was parked with the videocamera all ready). As soon as he was out of sight of the barn, he started to get worried. The dogs spooked him. Noises out on the road spooked him. He got prancy and bouncy. I worked him for a while in this not-so-comfy zone, doing ground work like backing, yielding the front and hind quarters, circling, and rubbing his withers. Then we moved back to his comfy area near the barn and did some more.
I worked Kasper for about an hour. Tomorrow I'll do more of the same. What he's dealing with at the moment is separation anxiety. I don't think he even notices the harness now!
The dogs and I finished up at the barn and came back to the house for a nap in front of the wood stove...
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Time to sort out the lunge line so I don't get strangled.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The horses, Kasper, CJ and Peter, are snoozing. They're recovering from a particularly blustery day yesterday.
Kasper's not sure he wants to wake up.
Here he comes...
Now, it would be better if I had a camera person along. Since I'm doing the horse work and taking the pictures, you don't get to see any action. I'll see what I can do about a cameraman. At this point, I take Kasper out to my training area (a strip of snow along the barn that is only knee deep, not thigh deep) where I can tie him by the tack room door:I start with some desensitization, flapping a flag around him. I've been doing the flag thing for months and he's quite happy with it. I can flap it wildly above his head and under his belly. Between flappings, I sweep it across his body so he's continually reminded that it's a friendly object that isn't going to hurt him. It actually seems to relax him so I usually begin a session with that.
From the flag, we move to the tarp, which I've also been flapping over him for months. I lead him around and lift the tarp up and down, fling it on and off him, and let him stomp on it. He likes to get his nose under a fold of it and flip it up.
Here he is in harness! An anticlimax after the tarp, it seems. This harness is a Pfiff from Germany. It's a breast collar style single driving harness suitable for light buggies or sleighs. The breast collar attaches to the traces, which I'll leave off for ground driving until I put the traces on and have Kasper start to pull something. I have the brake straps tied into the shaft loops just to keep them out of the way, and to put some tension on the back strap so he gets used to the feel on his butt.
Check out that mane! I spent an hour getting the winter knots out of it!The last photo of the day is a close-up of the backstrap and crupper assembly. I don't have the crupper on him here. The next day, I'll oil it up and (gently) position it. I've spent the last year lifting his tail and putting my arm across his butt under his tail to get him used to that, so he should be fine with it. But we'll see...
At this point, I lead him around, stop, start, back, circle (in knee deep snow). And it all goes fine.
Plan for next training day: add crupper, add open bridle (without blinders), add reins, and ground drive. Maybe I'll have a cameraman, too!
Part of the reason I'm blogging this training process is to get feedback. My horse trailer is pretty much snowed in which means I'm stuck out here in the boonies with no chance for feedback. So if anyone sees something I could be doing in a better way, feel free to comment!