Sunday, June 30, 2013

Brave new world

Brave new world  

Out for a walk.

Day 8

Picking up where we left off the day before, I brought her halter right into the green pen with me.  She walked right up to me, lowered her head and let me put the halter on right over her nose, it was like we had done this a million times.  I brought my nubby gloves (they have little black puff paint type pebbles on them) and let her explore them.  It didn't take her long to start letting me rub her face with them, she thoroughly enjoyed it.  She also enjoyed having her neck, mane, back, withers and belly rubbed.

 Enjoying a good rub down.

After that we practiced walking on the lead line.  I gave Opal lots of encouragement with each step she took forward.  Lap after lap in the round pen and Opal was proving not only would she walk with me, but would stop and back up with just the slightest bit of pressure on the halter.

 One step at a time.

Now to give her a test.  Opening the gate and walking outside her pen.  She gave one snort when I asked her to follow me, but a carrot convinced her it was worth coming along.  We spent about 5 minutes outside the pen taking one step at a time.

 What's all this out here?

Once back in her pen I let her see a fly mask.  With no hesitation she let me slip it over her halter.  Once I felt she was comfortable with it, I slipped off her halter, gave her lots of love and let her enjoy the shade.

 Take that flies!!

Day 9

Boy is it going to be hot today!  Days like this I head out to the barn early.  Opal had a big test today.  Walking to the arena!  I took her heard mate Ehawee out to the arena first.  The two may be in separate pens now, but eventually they will be in a pasture together.  They have to get to know each other and their place in the heard at some point :)   

Opal's turn.  Her walk out to the arena went fairly smoothly.  She stopped and wanted to visit with the donkeys, but a few encouraging 'walk' commands later we were moving again.  She also stopped at the arena gate.  Its much narrower than the green pen gate and I don't think she was sure she could or should get though it.  A carrot and the clicker quickly changed her mind.  Once the gate was closed, I removed her halter.  I needed to make sure she would let me get it back on her easily once it was time to go home.  Ehawee came over to say hello as I walked out of the arena.  At first Opal just walked around checking things out, but then Whiskey, another horse at the ranch, wanted to play with the girls.  HE was turned out grazing on the grass while my girls were in the arena....they began to run and chase each other.  I managed to get a few videos of the 3 of them playing....I hope they post.

 Ehawee stops to say cheese.

 Opal stops to sniff a piece of sheep wool 
that blew into the arena.

With the temperature quickly reaching 100, it was time to seek shade and shelter.  The two girls had enjoyed a 20 minute romp in the arena, Opal even found and played in the water bucket.  Opal was itching herself on a barrel in the ring when I approached her.  I put my gloves on, haltered her, then gave her chest a good rub down.  I think she rather enjoyed it....she was almost falling over she was leaning over on me so much.  We took a different path back to her green pen to expose her to more of the ranch.  She walked along as if she was a seasoned show horse.  We got to the gate of her green pen and she put on the brakes.  She wasn't done visiting the other horses and wanted to stay out longer.  She kept backing up, so I simply turned her around and started to back her into the pen.  We gt most of the way there when she decided that she would walk the rest of the way.  Its going to be a hot hot week up here, so I'm looking forward to playing around with water with her :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Faith, Trust, and some carrots

Faith, Trust, and some carrots

Touching the rope.

Day 5

Today we worked in the round pen instead of the square pen. I wanted to have a bit more room as I was working with throwing the rope around. With each throw, Opal would walk up to investigate the rope.  Once she was calm with that, I held a half loop in my hands out for her. She walked over to me and spent the next several encounters sniffing and touching the rope.
 What is this thing exactly?

 She began to move closer to me, so I was between her head and shoulders. She was almost leaning towards me. I  reached out slowly and stroked her shoulder twice. Her skin twitched and she walked away, then turned around and came back to me. She stretched out her head and blew air in my face, I returned the greeting. Then she lowered her head a bit and allowed me to pet the front of her face, eyes to nose, with the palm of my hand. 

Horse 101: think of your hands as a predator's claws.  The palm of the hand is where the claws would be and viewed as dangerous. The back of  your hand wouldn't have claws and is viewed as a safer approach by mustangs who have not been gentled. For them to allow you to pet their face, which is a blind spot for them, with your "claw" side of your hand is a big step in building trust and a healthy bond with you. 

The next thing we did was to hold the rope up so the ends were towards the ground. This allows her to feel the rope on both sides of her face while I pet her.  She was keeping an eye on how high the rope went up her face, but didn't protest its presence. Eventually this will allow me to put the rope over her head onto her neck, but as the wind began to kick up the dust, we called it a day. 

 Playing and exploring the rope.

Day 6

Today we picked up where we left off the previous day, except we worked in the square pen not the big round pen.  Opal was more than willing to approach anyone who wanted to stop and say hi to her...human or horse. She was also willing to take any treats off their hands. 

She was accepting of having the rope rubbed all over her face.  From her ears to her muzzle, top of her pole to under her cheeks. She was also enjoying having her faces pet with the palm of my hand. 

 I'm kind of enjoying this, I like attention.

We then moved on to moving the rope around her body. Tossing it by her head and feet, closer and closer until it would brush her legs. 
 What just touched my feet?
The more comfortable she became to closer she would move to me, until she was standing with her shoulder right next to me. I gathered up the rope and began to stroke her neck with it, then I let it go over her neck. She looked to her opposite side, let out a snort, trotted around the pen until the rope dropped, then came back to me. We repeated the process several more times and by then end of the day she was walking and standing still with the rope. I'm so proud of my girl.

 How did that get there?  I can still move, I guess it won't hurt me either.


Day 7

It has been a week since Opal arrived at Kickin' Back Ranch.  She is making wonderful progress.  Opal is hooked on carrots and is very happy to relieve anyone of them who is willing to give them to her.  Picking up where we left off yesterday, we went back to the rope  and started touching her face, neck and chest.  I also spent a lot of time stroking her whole face with my hands...she loves the attention.  She then reached her nose out and let me give her a kiss on her nose.  I also made sure she had plenty of shade and cool water to drink, and let her take frequent water was HOT out today!

Greg Faria, boarder at Kickin' Back Ranch and owner of the mustang Amigo, offered to clean Opal's stall.  Having another person in her home lets her know she can trust other people at the ranch as well.  She was curious as to what he was doing, and of course, was willing to take carrots form him.

 Greg and Opal saying hello.  
Please note that we usually always wear helmets in the green pens.  
It was over 100 degrees out at this point during the day and Greg had a soaked hat on his head to keep him cool.

Opal and I continued our session in the square pen.  She had no problem letting me put the rope over her neck, looping it over her face, or having me guide her with slight pressure on the rope.

             Listening to pressure on the rope.

I attached the rope to the rope halter and let her smell and play with it for a bit.  Once she was confident with the halter, I simply tossed it over her neck.  Slowly I brought the halter over her nose and hooked it up.  In the beginning, we use a emergency release knot to secure the rope halter, in case the horse reacts and it needs to be removed quickly.  This, however, was not Opal's case.  As soon as the halter was secured, she turned form one side to the other, checking out what was on her face, then walked up to me and stopped.  I walked forward and asked her to walk, she followed.  We walked around both directions.  

 This isn't so bad Mom.

 Ok, it's really hard to take pictures of the horse walking in halter for the first time while you are walking the horse.


 These pictures were taken by Marialaina Batoog, owner of Kickin' Back Ranch.

At the end of the day, I walked Opal out of the square pen and into the round pen to take her halter off.  Once I gave her the last carrot, she took a nice long roll in the sand.  Good way to end the day.