July Through Mid-August, 2000
Since moving Lady here last month, she has made incredible progress! I was beginning to think that she would never come around to liking me, but I was sure wrong!
I asked Paul if he would back off for awhile and let me take charge of doing everything , and he agreed. I started feeding her, cleaning her stall and corral and everything that's goes along with taking care of her.
I started by just talking to her every time I went out there. I did this off and on all day long for about a week. I was afraid she would not respond at all to me since she had started out liking Paul instead. I was also worried that by moving her into a larger
corral, it would work against me. Actually, it had just the opposite effect! With no other horses here to distract her and only me to depend on, she came around real fast.
After giving her time to get used to things, and when it seemed that it was ok with her to have me in the corral, I started walking her around. No problem with that, it went off fine. So I decided to just stand in the middle and run her around and wait till she would stop and look at me. We did this for a couple times and each time she stopped to look at me, I would walk over to her to pet her. Each time she would take off running again. This went on for about 3 days. Finally, after running around, she let me walk up and pet her on the face. After that, it just seemed like everything started to fall together.
Next step was getting her to let me pet her neck which I did with the lead rope still on. I got her to let me pet her all over and pick up her feet, and also got her to start doing things on command. We started with the basics, whoa, stand, and come and touch it.. She sailed through these like it was nothing! I then decided to try teaching her to back up by saying "back". This too worked well, except that no whenever she heard the word "back", no matter who I was talking to, she would just start backing up! So I guess that lesson worked out really good!
I thought if she was doing all this with the lead rope, it was time to take it off and see what happens.
At first I was a bit leery of her, since I had no way to control her. But she did everything I asked and was just great with me. She started following me around the corral every time I would go out to clean it up.
Well this all was doing so good that I decided to buy a regular horseball to play with.
Oh, she was a bit scared at first, but since I left it in the corral, she got used to it. After a couple days, I picked it up and had her "touch it". She did, so I said ok lets play! I waited for her to go to the other side of the corral, then I gently kicked the ball at her feet. She didn't spook, she just hopped over it with her back feet. So every day after having her go through all her other
commands, I would do the same thing and say "let's play!" She seemed to like it. After about a week, I went out there and she walked up to the ball and touched it with her nose without any prompting from me. I assumed she wanted to play. So I kicked the ball at her, she ran to the other side of the corral, and I did it again. This time as I walked to the ball, she walked at the same time, and got between me and the ball, then she looked at me as if to say, "I got here first!" Now this is a game we play every day after she does all the other things.
I next picked up the ball and touched her on her shoulder, and she stood there calmly, so I went further along her body, and still she was quiet. I then started touching her with it on her back, and I was sure this was going to be bad! But no, she was fine with it.
I figured it was time to see what would happen with the blanket.
Again, I think I was nuts! I didn't have the lead rope on and asked her to 'touch it", which went off real good. So I started touching her with the blanket all over her body. She wasn't too happy but she stood still. I then put the blanket on her back. Oh boy! That was something!
She stood for a minute, and then she took off! Bucking and kicking like there was no
tomorrow! She did this until she got the blanket off and onto the ground, then stopped and looked at me. I said "come" and she came right to me. I just hung the blanket over a board on the corral and left it there all night. The next day she wasn't so scared of it.
I waited a week, then tried the blanket again. This time, she stood still and didn't go off
bucking. I decided to start out by only leaving it on for a little while and take it off when I sensed she was getting uncomfortable. The more we did this, the longer she let the blanket stay on. We are still working on it, but she is much better.
Last week, I went out to clean the corral and after petting her went about my work. The next thing I know, she walked about 5 feet from me and laid down, then she rolled onto her back and was having a ball with all her feet in the air! I couldn't believe she would do that in the corral with me there! She had never done this before, and I thought maybe she didn't realize I was there. Wrong! Two days later, she did the same thing!!! She must trust me or she would not feel free enough to do this next to me. She wouldn't do it at all when Paul was around.
But then, the other day, we were putting some bedding in her stall and she went and did it again, this time with both Paul and me there. It made Paul feel really good, since now no matter what he tries to do with her, she basically ignores him and he needs to put the lead rope on her to get her to do anything. All I have to do is walk in and say the command that I want her to do, and she does it! I think maybe she just might be my horse after all!
There isn't much happening with Babe right now. She just keeps getting bigger! So until she foals, she is just taking it easy!
In the next episode, hopefully I will be able to tell you about getting her under saddle and the bit.