Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Days Fifteen and Sixteen - Trailering Triumph!

As I went out with the camera (on the tripod I found in a closet so no more need for the camera crew) it started to hail. This video needs no extra music added!

video

Rest assured these guys have a shelter, it's just twenty feet to the right from where they're standing. Why don't they use it? Good question.

video

When I watch this video from yesterday, it looks like Kasper's been mozying in and out of trailers for years, but he really was jumpy when we started a few days ago! He's made huge progress with his confidence.

Today I loaded him once, turned him, shut the door (a process that I took about an hour to accomplish yesterday and today took three minutes) and took him for a half hour drive. When we got back home, he stood still while I opened the door and stepped out when I asked him. Yahoo!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day Fourteen

I turned the radio on in the truck today for Kasper. It freaked him out at first, but as I walked him around the truck, he realized where it was coming from and relaxed:
I practiced making him stand on his own at a distance from me, which he's getting comfortable with, even when the neighbours are revving their snowmobiles.
At the trailer, I had him step in and back out several times like yesterday, and then I was able to get him to turn to face the door and stand still. I asked him for a few back steps and forward steps in the trailer, and then let him walk quietly out.

He did very well, and didn't attempt any Lipizzaner moves like two days ago! Tomorrow he may be ready for me to close the door.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Days Twelve and Thirteen

Kasper grew stripes! Ack! Actually, I photographed this fellow at the Mountain View Wildlife Conservation Centre in Langley when I was there last week. Check out the link!

I may change the name of this blog to "A Year of Living Horsily" because I haven't been specifically harness training lately, and I suspect real life will continue to get in the way of my plans. The present need is to get Kasper comfy with the trailer. He needs to go for a Coggins test (so I can take him to summer camp with me), and he's a might bit afraid of the trailer. Last year he loaded fine but wasn't too happy once the door was shut.

So, trailering will be my task for the next couple of weeks. Yesterday, it only took me about an hour to dig the trailer out of the snow. This photo shows how deep the snow is where it hasn't been trampled. I have this skinny little path beside the barn wall to pull the hay sled along...



Once I had the trailer dug out, I had to dig holes for the truck tires to sink into so the hitch was low enough, etc etc. Once hitched, I tied Kasper and groomed him until he was relaxed, then we did some ground work in front of the truck, taking breaks for him to nuzzle the truck hood--it's so soft and smooth!
Then loading. I asked him to step up with his front feet, stand, and back out. After several repetitions of this, I stood in the trailer and bounced it and made noise until he relaxed. And then I asked him to step in with all four feet, let him have a mouthful of hay and then asked him to back out. That was tricky. He spazzed, spun (away from me so the rope went flying), leaped out, did an amazing air-above-the-ground that would have made any Lipizzaner jealous (and made me wish I'd put my helmet on) and came to a stop facing me. So I asked him again, and this time on the back-up he scrunched his hooves together like he was trying to balance on a loonie, quivered, and then stepped back to the ground. I gave him a good rub and called it a day.
Today he was so much better. I started with the same grooming and ground work routine, and the front feet back-up routine. When I asked him to step all the way in, he was quivery when he backed out the first time but after that he did really well, searching carefully with his back feet to see if he was at the edge. He went in and out about fifteen times and never tried to spin and dash out. I jiggled the trailer and tapped the sides and he was okay with that.
By the way, it's a three horse angle haul trailer, so he doesn't need to back out, but his habit is to go in-get scared-dash out, so the backing practice should be giving him more confidence in the trailer. The trickiest part of loading for me last year was getting Kasper to stay in long enough for me to shut the door! Whenever I had a helper, it went fine, but I need to be able to load him up on my own. Most of all I need him to be happy and content in the trailer!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring...?

Heading south for a week. I hope to return to crocusses and daffodils...and weather conducive to training. Thanks to everyone who's sent me feedback by email!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day Eleven -- More Ponying (and a serious lack of a camera crew!)

Well, it felt like I had a lot of horse in each hand yesterday. It was a lively day at the ranch with a lot of bustle and barking so Kasper was...shall we say...a tad flighty. I was happy to be up on CJ so I could direct from above instead of below. We did lots of circles and walked up and down the road and stood still for several minutes at a time.

I would like to get out there every day but today it was -25 C (close to Absolute Zero with the wind chill) and tomorrow it's supposed to be even colder!

I would also like to get some more photos, but the tractor seems to be parked at an imperceptible slant so the video camera slides off...I'll have to think of some other way...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day Ten - Ponying

Kasper had his first lesson in ponying (being led by a rider on another horse). I rode CJ and led Kasper up and down the driveway where he's been nervous. He was much less nervous, having his wise old buddy along, but it took some convincing to get him to realize that CJ wasn't along just so Kasper could chew on him. With the odd flick of the lead rope, he started to figure out he was supposed to give CJ some space and follow along beside without spinning or barging ahead.

By the end of half an hour, we were walking five steps, halting, backing up, walking five steps, turning, etc., in not too bad form.

After the ponying, I loaded Kasper in the trailer a few times. Now that I've dug the trailer out of the snow, I'd like to get Kasper down to the arena where we can train indoors. But, he's nervous of it, so I'll get him comfortable with it slowly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Between Rain Showers...

Today I took CJ out of the corral and dusted him off, did a bit of spring cleaning on him and then rode him up and down the driveway. He's our most steadfast horse. My plan next day is to ride him and pony Kasper along so we can go a little further than ten feet away from the barn. I won't be able to progress Kasper's driving training until he learns that he's safe out there in the non-barn zone.

Day Nine (which was last Friday)

I usually work with Kasper in the morning after he's filled his belly, but I was late getting out. Toward the end of our hour, he dove into the neck-deep snow beside the road to get at the moldy hay pile, which he couldn't see but could obviously smell!

After retrieving Kasper from the snow bank, I ground-drove Peter with a halter and the long reins. He responded very well and we went up and down the road without a hitch :)