Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I wanted to let Linus have some time to himself on pasture today. It did him...and I, the world of good as it turned out. I'll start at the beginning since that is usually the best place!!
Since the weather took a turn for the better Linus has been acting like a little kid who is excited for March break!! Which in a way is true. But, it has resulted in some handling issues. Issues partially because I let them get that way, chalking it up to the weather change and he will settle down once he adjusts...or once it snows again, whichever comes first. Excuses, excuses. So, I consulted Lynn, thank goodness she is so accessible, and decided that no Linus was not going to get away with it any longer.
The bullying while leading was going to stop, same with the circling around me or thinking he was leading me to where we were going. So, yesterday I set up three feed barrels (they come to roughly Linus' knees) in a triangle shape. We circled them a few times. He really had some issues listening to me at first but then caught on that I was in charge and no we weren't out to attack round bales, bother the Saint Bernard (poor old Misty is almost 11) or investigate an old tractor tire (which is soon going to be an obstacle!). Then I lined the barrels up in a straight line about 8 feet apart for us to weave in and out of. It made me realise something about him; he will do pretty well anything that I want him to so long as I do it first. Which in turn actually leaves him more trusting of me which leaves me feeling on top of the world!! Still, it wasn't great at first with the barrels, he started to get pretty snotty so I showed him my carrot stick then raised it high in the air along with my hand holding the lead rope and waved them til he stood still. As soon as his feet stopped so did I and lowered my hands. We repeated this a few times then resumed our barrel weaving.
Today he was more respectful of my space and when he did start to try to get ahead of me I made him stop. That worked and we walked calmly together to a part of the pasture where the cows are not yet allowed. To get to where Linus ended up for his free time we had to go through some tractor tire ruts that are filled with water (they'll be fixed once the ground hardens), some big puddles and finally over a ditch. Not a very big ditch but to Linus it was the Grand Canyon!! His play time actually turned into a great obstacle day for us again!! He ran, bucked, kicked, splashed in shallow puddles, rolled and of course sampled the new grass and gave the curious cows something to look at while they waited for me to go put their hay out. I absolutely loved watching Linus play while I fed the cows and did up the chores. I had to keep reminding myself I was supposed to be watching where I was driving the tractor and not watching Linus!! It was just so AWESOME to watch my own horse at home. I wanted to get a pail and just sit and watch him all afternoon! I used to do that with the cows whenever I could. After putting in a first-calf heifer who is close to calving I went back out to get Linus. The fence was up but not yet live so I didn't want to leave him out and risk him over-indulging on the grass!! I thought piece of cake; clip the lead on and off we go. Boy was I wrong, ditches apparently are twice the size when you cross them going back the other way!! Poor Linus was shaking and sweating by the time he finally built up the nerve. We walked up and down the ditch until we finally decided on the place he was most comfortable with. Every time he took a step I would ease up and praise him. When he finally took the leap...and plunge, I took a minute to scratch him where he likes it and praise him like mad! I stopped several times on the way back to praise my brave boy!! Until we hit another obstacle that I hadn't thought of: the flags on the flag pole were now untangled and flapping in the strong wind. After the ditch crossing though the flags took little effort to get by. They more were a look and see what is making that strange noise then carry on!
So, in the last 2 days we have improved our leading, encountered and conquered 3 obstacles and most important to me, we have built our trust in each other.
I apologise for the excessively long post, I should post less, more often but I am on cloud 9 right now. Linus impressed me so much today. I have fallen in love with him all over again. I just love the RAC, the ideas I get from it are great and I feel like we are all one big support group!! Til' next time...
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