Friday, October 24, 2014

Just Groundwork

[In my post about the night ride, I forgot to mention that when we started trotting, it was really cool to see Flash's shoes sparking on the gravel.]

Tonight, Shar wasn't home plus it was cold, foggy, and threatening to rain, so I just did some groundwork with Elk.  I got her out and took her straight to the round pen.  First I ran her around a bit, changing directions, etc.

Then I brushed her, reinforcing that I'm a nice human to be around.

I wanted to take some photos of her, and needed to step away a bit, but she kept following me.  So we worked on "stay."  What?  Can't that command work for a horse?  What do horse people usually use other than "ho"?  I would tell her to stay, and start backing away.  As soon as she leaned to step toward me, I'd make myself big and say "Ho."  Then, "Stay."  Then back away again.  Eventually, she got it.  Sort of.  I had a hard time getting her to stay sideways to me--she'd always turn toward me.  But she did at least say in that spot after turning:

She looks pretty relaxed, wouldn't you say?

Then I remembered I wanted to have treats on hand as rewards when working on getting her to pick up her hind feet.  So I went to get them, and in the two minutes I was gone, the silly girl rolled.  When I got back, she was filthy (I'd just brushed her, remember) and there was a packed down spot where she'd rolled, but she was all, "What?  I was this dirty when you left.  I didn't do anything.  Don't look at me like that!"

So we worked on feet.  First, I did her fronts.  I praised her verbally, then rubbed and scratched her neck after she let me pick them without pulling them away from me.  Her hind feet are a lot more troublesome.  At first, just me moving toward her hind end resulted in her pivoting and pivoting and pivoting on her front end.  She must've known that after the front feet comes the hinds.  :-)  But I just followed her hind end around and around, with my hand gently on her side or rump until she stopped moving.  I petted and scratched her to reward her for stopping, then ran my hand down her leg.  Of course she didn't even relax it.  So our first goal would be just for her to take her weight off the leg and relax it.  When she did, she got a [baby] carrot.  It took a couple of wrong tries (moving her feet) for her to get what I was asking for and earn another carrot.  Then it clicked and she did it again right away.  Good girl.  Carrot.  Now to increase what I was asking of her.  Now she had to actually let me pick up her foot, then instantly put it back down, withOUT yanking it out of my hand.  Again, once she got a treat it took a couple more wrong tries, then she was like, "Oh, THAT's what gets me a carrot?  Well then here you go!"  Next step, letting me hold onto it for a second.  You know what?  She let me actually pick it out!  Good GIRL!  Have a whole handful of carrots!

Then to the other side, the hind foot she's even more reluctant to give up.  Went through the steps again.  This time, she gave me a little more trouble about hanging onto it and yanked her foot out of my hand and started turning around.  No biggie, she didn't get a treat that time, and I just "chased" her around and asked her to pick it up again.  This time, she held it long enough for me to pick it out.  Woo!  She got the whole rest of the bag of carrots and we were done for the day.  I'll work with her on it again tomorrow.  But I'll have to pick up more carrots first.  :-)

So I figured she'd been penned up in the round pen long enough, but wasn't wanted to do a solo night ride, so took her to the arena and let her run.

All four off the ground at the trot ...

... and galloping
She did a few quick gallops along the diagonal, trotted beautifully, and then came up to me huffing and snorting, telling me she was done.  She was a bit sweaty, so she got a little love and rubs and hand grazing before I put her back in her pasture and fed her her dinner.  (A fleece cooler is on order.)

What a good girl!

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