Sorry I haven't been on here lately. Things have been hectic. I have some downtime so I thought I'd better catch up!
We're still learning the "leg up" command. This is one of those lessons that are going to be long for Cookie. Horses generally are not ones to stand on 3 legs, and while some grasp this concept of picking up the hoof and holding it rather quickly, Cookie is not amused by this lesson.
Without sounding like I'm making excuses here, she is after all a mare. Mares have a whole unique personality which can flare anytime they choose whether they are in heat or not. Their moods fluctuate faster than the mercury on a thermometer, and I thought I was bad! That's ok though, she still gets her lessons whether she feels like it or not. It may not be the one we're currently working on, but she does get something taught to her.
She is much better on picking up her fronts on cue. A big plus. She still is jigging those hinds and sometimes she even forces the issue by pushing her foot backwards in a kick sort of motion except not quite as forcefully as a true kick. I have learned to be quick and nimble in these times so I can get out of her way and let her "fall" on that foot without stomping mine. She is in the deciding process with that one. One time she'll hold her leg up after one of those episodes and others, she's just not quite sure what she should do so she doesn't pick the foot up on cue. A few times I have had to force the issue and lean into her to pick that leg up. Another motion she doesn't like very well and tells me so by swishing her tail hard in my direction.
While we continue to work on those hinds, I've added another lesson into the mix. Flexing and giving to the bit.
I have her in a D-ring snaffle with cotton reins. I'm not sure if she has ever been trained with a bit or just a halter or hackamore, so I'm starting from the beginning here to see where she's at. Right now, instead of giving to the bit, she chews it and shoves her head to the ground.
A light tap on the shoulder brings her head back up and she stops chewing. I don't have a saddle yet, so attaching the reins to the cinch is not an option right now. Everything I do is done on the ground for safety reasons. I always start with warming her up first. A few times around on the lunge in both directions and then comes the flexing.
I start by flexing at the poll. Asking her to flex and back up. This she does pretty well. She still chews on the bit a little, but not nearly as bad as when I ask for a side flex.
About 10 steps in reverse and I'll ask her to move her butt which swings her into position for a side pass. 5 steps on the swing around, and 5 steps to the side, we back up 10 more steps and do the opposite side. Then we relax for a few moments.
I'll then ask for a side flex to the left, by standing just behind her shoulder I'll place one hand at the back of her withers. Taking the left rein I'll gently pull it to me asking her to turn her head in my direction without moving her feet. Sometimes she does it, other times we have to stand next to a fence line. Then I'll go around to the other side and flex to the right. I always hold each flex for a count of 5 and then release it. The main thing I want her to learn is to stand still while flexing. This is something she is learning also. Whenever her head turns, her but swings out and she begins to move. This is not what I want, nor am I asking for. Somehow she must connect with what I'm asking of her, and what is not being asked of her. I always give a verbal cue along with a tap when I'm asking for say a turn or side pass or whatever. When I want her to bend and not move, I only use my hands to pull the rein in the direction I want her to bend without taping anywhere else. Eventually she will grasp what I'm asking and it may be that I have to find another way of asking it from her.
When training horses, it's not always about what you're asking, rather it's "how" you're asking it. Always be open to trying different ways to get your horse to do what your asking. Being bull headed with a horse will not earn you any brownie points with your horse and you might find yourself with a whole slew of other issues to deal with.
*Note* Having to find another farrier is a long drawn out process in my case. The very good one's are few and far between around here. Her feet are a bit long, but she'll be ok for a little while longer. She's only 1 week over a full 8 right now, though I don't like to let her feet go this long at all. Hopefully we'll find one soon. I've been using 2 different fly sprays to keep the flies and mosquitoes at bay, though they only work for a very short period of time. I'll need to invest in a fly sheet and some leggin's for her in the next couple of months. Other than that, she is doing quite well even though we're having some crazy rainy days, mixed in with super high humidity. She stands in her stall most days to keep cool and stay away from the flies and bugs.
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