Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hunter -- 09/11/08

Got to play with Hunter tonight. He is still growing, as his back end is getting jacked up more. His teeth are so short, I think he must be very young. He seems to be suffering no ill effects from having a pink halter, so psychiatric counseling is postponed, dear editor. However he is getting fatter by the day. I wish Ike, the Percheron we are fostering, would gain weight like Hunter.

He did much better on feet balancing tonight. Still a little trouble with the off hind.

I did a lot of handling tonight. He is not keen on getting his tail messed with. I spent quite a bit of time working on this to desensitize him. As usual he didn't care much after I got started, but this will take several sessions before he trusts me. He also got the 'little fingers' lesson: Poked in nostrils (didn't care), ears (cared very little; only after I started simulating future trimming of inside hairs did I get a mild reaction), eyes (no poking, just petting and he seemed to like this) and mouth (now we did get a reaction; nothing violent, just annoyed).

I did more weight training. He likes me hanging over him. He did skitter ever so little when I started pulling his mane, in preparation for mounting. Bet he doesn't care the next session when I do this.

Hunter did get in trouble for the first time. During all the handling training, we discovered he loved to get scratched under the jaw. When I went on to other lessons, he got quite rude with his head in attempts to get me to scratch there more. So I propped my elbow at such an angle that when he started banging his head on me again, he thumped himself. Head rudeness is not acceptable...especially with a kid horse. If he tries this again, he may get a stud chain and let him bang himself as I hold my hand still. I prefer to let punishment be delivered by the horse to himself, if possible. Hey, I don't want to be the bad guy!

He is leading ever so well .... as long as we do the ultra-slow pace. He is starting when I ask (I say 'come here' and then step out), keeping himself positioned beside me, stopping square. That is, on his near side. I worked with his off side, and he was confused - just like he was starting from scratch, but I expected that. He kept sneaking ways to get himself on the 'trained' side. I had to laugh. I have seen this before and it always goes away with handling and patience. Why I am training him for the off side is this: little kids will lead him. Need I say more? Also, there are many times a good trail horse must adapt to either side. Finally, to prepare him for possible sight impairment in his future. Before anyone starts thinking Hunter could be unsound, it is merely a pragmatic step. Our old Appaloosa gelding, Joe, has gone blind in one eye and I am preparing him for the eventuality of total blindness. It sure would have been easier if he had learned leading on both sides at age 2 instead of 24.

If anyone is out there reading this, please send me your suggestions. Especially for this problem: Hunter will not trot in hand. Not even with the come along. He barely will walk at a normal pace. He is fine in the field with the little herd on all his gaits.

Here's Hunter modeling the come-along.

- Anastasia

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