One of the biggest things I am grateful for is that Annie is OK. There is no swelling, heat, or lameness and aside from the unsightly wounds, you wouldn't even know we had had as large of an incident as we had (other than y'anno, the fact she won't load).
I'm beginning to realize a lot of things about Annie - she really doesn't KNOW much. For example, cold-hosing her fetlocks or even just running my hand down her legs has her shuffling away with a, "What the heck are you doing?" expression. It isn't malicious, and it isn't rude.
She literally doesn't know.
|Thankfully she does know how to treat little poodle dogs.|
The whole fly-spray thing, the farrier issue, and now this trailer fiasco isn't because of her directly. Yes, she is the one who spooked, kicked out, and bolted backwards, but it simply is because she doesn't know HOW she is supposed to react.
All these puzzle pieces are starting to click together and I can feel myself understanding her and her needs more. From just three short sessions with the trailer loading, I can see just how willing she is when I praise her and give her the answer to what she is asking.
I've never owned a baby horse before, so these light bulb moments are probably coming very late in my ownership of Annie, but we're chugging along no worse for wear.
|The Metal Box of Death - as per Annie|
I pulled Annie out of the paddock and began brushing the Sore No More poultice from her legs. It seemed as though there was some residual swelling on her hind left near the back of the fetlock, so I cold-hosed her - which was a lesson in itself.
I don't think Annie has ever had the hose on her before, because she danced around and snorted and blew. But, like the day before when I cold-hosed her, I just stayed with her (but didn't give her any physical corrections) until she stood quiet. I patted her and continued what I was doing. She came to terms with it fairly quickly and let me squat down by her fetlock with the leadrope draped loose.
Afterwards, we waltzed over to the trailer and repeated what we had been working on the day before.
- Cathryn goes in the trailer.
- Annie follows to where she is comfortable.
- Annie gets treat.
- Annie stands quiet on the ramp until Cathryn backs her out.
- Mental break.
The whole back and forth dance started to get a bit boring for her so I requested she come closer - she danced along the top of the ramp. You could see she was battling herself, as the rope was completely slack. She wanted so badly to join me, but she was afraid.
She tentatively touched a front hoof into the trailer and jerked it away like it had been set on fire. I laughed and led her back down the trailer.
We repeated the exercise until she stood with a hoof in the trailer and stayed "with" me as I fed her treats.
She is starting to figure out that shooting backwards is the wrong answer, and she can show me she's upset in another way. Each time she has started to falter backwards, she steps forward as if to say, "I'm very uncomfortable so I'm going to get out of her- oh, right, step forward... breathe... Mom will get me out of this."
The session ended there - I didn't and don't want to berate her with going in and out endlessly and trying to push her more than she was willing.
|Awkward selfie + Sore No More poulticed leg.|
I started off by producing the building blocks I'd be utilizing later on in our trailer training which included Teresa's wonderful suggestion of "sending" Annie off. We worked away from the trailer and I used a dressage whip to help be an extension of my arm.
Annie was great - went where I pointed her and halted where I asked. We moved closer to the trailer and her mind left me for a moment or two as I had her "lunge" around me with the leadrope. The main objective of this was for her to understand that A) we won't always be working ON the trailer, but we can work NEAR it. B) the eventual installment of sending her up and INTO the trailer without me leading her in.
We neared the ramp of the trailer and she stepped on it a few times, which I praised her for. She was unsure about what I was trying to get her to do, but she did as I asked which was all I could ask for.
We also worked on verbal "back" cues for when she is in the trailer and needs to back out without pressure on the leadrope. I used the dressage whip to tap her front legs and she did awesome.
So, kind of like the Stacey Westfall videos I've been watching at the advice of Emma (thank you!!) I have been "planting the seed" of things to come. There isn't really any end result from any of the little things we played with today, but they will all become entangled into one another.
The process is kind of like watching paint dry, in some aspects, but these are all important things to focus on and build upon.
Annie certainly has a lot to learn but she obviously has a wonderful temperament that will blossom with her being able to understand what we are actually trying to achieve. No, there is no excuse for not yielding to pressure or otherwise, but I truly don't think she knows any better.
We finished off the night with loading and unloading in the trailer, altho this time was more about hanging out on the ramp vs stepping up and stepping off like we had previously done. Yes, there is something to be said about routine, but I like to add little things together and try to play off of what the horse is giving me. Annie wasn't concerned about stepping off the ramp - yes, she stepped down the ramp but never stepped completely off of it. I made the ramp her "safe zone" for the night and we played from there (with a few intervals where I took her completely off the trailer for a little "break".
Near the end of the session, Annie pawed at the air, showing that she realllly wanted that carrot but she just didn't realllly want to put her hoof in. She is actually quite a character, her little quirks make me laugh.
She did have quite a big breakthrough though - both hooves made their way into the trailer and after she did that more than once, we quit for the night. The first time both hooves made contact in the trailer floor, she took the treat and immediately stepped back onto the safe zone of the ramp, which is OK, but not ideal. The second time we did this, like you will see in the video, I asked her to "stay" with me. You can see in the video she wasn't quite sure and you can see the moment where she wanted to get the heck out of there and instead, bobbed back forwards. She stayed right with me until I let her back out.
It's a terrible video, but it gives you a general idea. The clucking noises I made weren't necessarily to entice her forwards as much as it was to ask her to focus and use her brain again vs staring at Spud and Suzie (who were neighing like Annie was going to leave foreverrr). Viewers will note the leadrope being loose save for when she went to go backwards - the tension allows her to know that that is the wrong answer and she is rewarded by stepping forwards OR by moving her neck forwards to release the tension. You can see I don't move and I don't even play into her uncertainty, just wait for her to gather her composure and stand, and then I immediately ask her to back up and remove her from the trailer.
I'm not going to pester her on the trailer stuff again until the weekend - we have a lot to work on and I don't want to overwhelm her with doing the same exact thing day in and day out. So we'll play with other things like:
- standing while I pretend to be a farrier on her hooves
- standing while I turn the hose on her legs
- yielding to pressure from her poll
- following the direction I point her and stopping exactly and precisely when I ask
- yielding her haunches
- accepting the flyspray
- backing from voice cues only
- ground tying
- suppling exercises (yielding)
|I've tried to tell friends that I don't like her, but I'm starting to |
and I'm starting to "get" her.
She's kind and sensible and I'm starting to realize just how much I misjudged her. She isn't a witchy mare - she is like a little kid, who is trying to figure it all out.
It seems as though she is beginning to forgive my ignorance, which I am very pleased with. And soon our trailer ties and Safe T Ties will be here for the "real deal" - whenever Annie decides that is!