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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Echo and I did very well today.

Today I was alone on the farm (as far as humans go) and it was such a warm day I thought I'd make the most of the good weather.

I shut the pasture gate and let Echo into Wildairo's corral again. I thought I'd give him another leading lesson. The trouble was he wouldn't move his feet. He would not budge! Then it occurred to me I couldn't get him back into his own corral. I can walk up to him and attach his lead rope, but that's useless if I can't lead him. I tried waving my jacket over my head to push him through the gate and he got (surprise surprise) over excited. He only cantered around a little bit but it was enough to make me worry he could get out of the corral because there are some low spots on the rock wall. Wildairo has never challenged the wall but Wildairo can be led if he got out. I know I tend to worry too much. I called Brad to see when he was coming home and he said he would be home very late because he was a few hundred miles away.

I noticed that Wildairo's bucket still had a lot of alfalfa in it from the night before and Wildairo was nowhere to be seen! Wildairo was finding enough to eat without the help of humans and the thought of Echo escaping with him was pretty scary so I dragged irrigation pipe over to the lower spots on the rock wall and with the help of baling twine, made it look more formidable. Echo just stood and calmly watched me. The chances of Echo getting out were slim to none but like I said, I worry too much.

Echo explored the bigger area. (Cell phone pictures).

He kept going down for a roll. He was really enjoying himself.

I tried leading Echo again but he was being stubborn and wouldn't move. I tried something different; I put all my weight on the rope and just lay into it. It must have really been hurting him and after awhile he stepped towards me and then stopped again. I kept repeating this over and over till he decided the only way to avoid the discomfort from the halter and the lead rope fastener under his chin was to keep following me and not stopping. We had to repeat it when we changed directions.

After awhile he was leading really good and acting so calm and laid back. Wildairo never relaxes like that. I was really pleased. What I think is so weird is that when I first tried leading Echo he led good and then for some reason he decided not to cooperate anymore.

By the way; when I was tying irrigation pipe to the rock wall (very attractive) I saw Wildairo just the other side of some rocks and he was grazing like there was no tomorrow. He knows it'll be covered in snow soon and is making the most of it.

What a good day it turned out to be.


Ylva said...

I used to have big problems loading my horse, so I got this guy to help me who is really good with training horses.

He first let me show him how I normally do it. The first thing he said was
"He doesn't lead well, and it's because you are very unprecise in your communication. First of all, you are using force (hanging on the rope), which gets you in an unbalanced position. Second, when he takes a step forward, you are very slow at stopping your signal. You are still putting weight on the rope to keep him moving forward, and so he is not reinforced for coming toward you".

When the lesson was over I kind of realised that this didn't only apply to leading or loading but to my riding and overall handling of my horse as well. I'm just not quick enough in releasing the pressure, so I'm not reinforcing the behaviour I want. I've started practising my timing a lot and it really helps. It's good to have someone watching you and telling you if you're not releasing fast enough. It takes a lot of concentration!

Maybe it's something for you to consider as well :)

arlene said...

Thanks for your input. Echo is such a funny boy about leading. I know what you're talking about releasing the pressure quick when he responds. The thing is some days he will not budge an inch other days he responds to me moving forward just a tiny bit like he's a well trained horse. I have never encountered a horse like him. Don't get me wrong though because I love working with him. It's just some days I really wonder if his mother had him while she was standing up and he landed on his head. I'm going to read your advice through again to make sure I'm not sending him the wrong signals. I get what you're saying about riding as well. I can remember when I was a girl getting yelled at for keeping the pressure on too long. Thanks again.