Salt Wells, Wyoming Mustang Mare

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh Those Ears!!

Played online tonight for 30", all 7 games but especially circling with America upholding her responsibilities of speed and direction. She's good at maintaining direction but she doesn't always maintain gait, either breaking from a trot to a walk or stopping before I ask her in and in general, her stop is behind me! We played with her maintaining gait tonight and ended up with two nice circles in each direction at the end of the 12' line.

We played a little bit with sideways over a log and America really knows this game. She readily steps over the log when asked and it only takes phase 1 for her to start moving sideways. Since she's doing so well with sideways away from me, I decided to bring her back by asking for sideways towards me. She was a bit confused at first but I kept it slow and she gave me one step towards me so we stopped there.

When we finished our online play session, it was time to feed the ponies so I fed her in the trailer. This reinforces the trailer as a sweet spot; she gets to rest and eat in there...two favorite things for a LB horse!!

I've noticed since I've been playing with America and asking more of her, I'm getting the typical "LB ears back" look from her more often. I need to pay attention to this and get strategies going to deal with it. Time to go back and review some DVD's!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 10 - Trailer Loading 1.9

I know I've skipped a few days but they were mostly repeats of the first 5 days, building America's confidence with being confined in the trailer for varying periods of time, with and without food and with various noises going on outside the trailer. America did really well with everything so I decided it was time to take our first road trip and today was the day to do it.

I hooked the trailer up to the truck and loaded America in the trailer following our familiar routine so she would be comfortable and confident. I headed out slowly at first to let her get her sea legs then we set out down our bumpy dirt road. I was a little concerned when America began calling to the other horses as we left and Li"Bert"y got a little concerned as he'd never been away from America since I brought him home at 7 months of age. My husband said he ran around calling for a couple of minutes then settled down and didn't start again until he heard the trailer coming back home.

America called out to several horses as we passed their pastures on our trip. I guess she was mildly concerned but not wide eyed or pacing around the trailer. We went around the neighborhood, out on the blacktop road, over the RR tracks, to the gas station, where there were trucks and cars, to turn around, and then back home. In all, it was about a 20" trip and America handled it well.
When we pulled in the driveway, Li"Bert"y called to her and she called back. I pulled all the way in and parked then went to check America to see what she was doing. My idea was to leave her in the trailer until she was calm and relaxed, then let her out. Imagine my suprise when I looked in on her and found her eating hay from the feeder!! She was totally relaxed so I opened the door to the trailer and she was in no hurry to leave. I went in to halter her and I had to ask her out of the trailer!! Once outside the trailer, America turned around to go right back in to finish her hay!!

I couldn't be happier with our progress and I feel like we're ready for our trip off the farm for our two hour lesson with Jerry Williams on January 14th. I do think we'll take a couple more "road trips" before the big day though, just to make sure today wasn't a fluke!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 5 - Trailer Loading 1.4

My wonderful friend, Jae, came over today to play with my ponies and give me her objective observations. She also gave me some new arrows to use in my play sessions with America and Li"Bert"y. I so appreciate her help and honest assessments!

We started with America and trailer loading. I asked America out of the pasture and into the trailer and she was all too happy to head in there. Once she was in the trailer eating her hay, I started moving trailer parts, tapping on the trailer, and closing the door. After evaluating what we were doing and how America was being so confident, Jae suggested going ahead and closing the trailer door and fastening it. America was just fine with this and ended up spending more than 45" in the trailer eating her hay, then watching us while we played with Bert. When I finally went to get her out of the trailer and opened the door, I asked her to wait while I haltered her. I half expected her to want to hurry out of the trailer but she exited calmly and quietly. I couldn't be more pleased with her progress. I'm thinking I'll be taking America on her first road trip around the block in the next couple of days.

We played a bit of the 7 games while Jae watched and gave me some great pointers on how to be more particular, have a clear focus, and be effective without being critical or insulting my horse. My old nemesis is rearing it's head again...I don't have a clear focus and plan on what I'm asking for. I'm wondering how many more times I need to hear this before it will sink in!!

A couple of interesting things happened when we were playing the 7 games. One was no suprise...America yields her hq much easier than her fq...that fits with her being a LB horse. The other suprise came on the circling game going to the left. My plan was for 4 circles at the trot and America did 2 then decided to stop. I sent her again and she pitched a little tantrum by taking off impulsively then kicking up her heels and squealing and farting, although she did stay on the circle and not pull away. She went about a lap and stopped. I resent her and this time she went the 4 laps at a trot without a tantrum and had a nice bring back with a good expression on her face. I do need to pay attention though...going to the left she stays out on the circle; however, to the right she wants to spiral in too close to me.

Jae gave me a handy exercise to play with to teach America to move out of my space and I love the name "Ice Cream Cone". I don't know who was more confused trying to learn the exercise, me or America. I definitely need to practice this one!!

I'm looking forward to spending more time with America and advancing our relationship. I think we're going to be having lots of fun together!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 4 - Trailer Loading 1.3

Well, I had a whole post nearly finished and disappeared into cyberspace!! I'm not going to retype the whole thing again so here's the condensed version:

We took the night off trailer loading practice for a few reasons:
1. Hubby and I decided to have a date night tonight since I started my holiday vacation work until next Thursday!!
2. I don't want America to learn to assume anything when we practice trailer loading and tonight when I went out to feed, she was standing looking at the trailer and anticipating getting out of the pasture.
3. I have a friend coming over in the morning to give me some trailer loading pointers so we'll get our practice in the morning. I don't want to over-do it and become a drill sargent!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 3 - Trailer Loading 1.2

Gosh, I just LOVE America!! Tonight was day 3 of our trailer loading program in preparation for our big trip off the farm on January 14th. When I went to fetch America from the pasture she came to me at a fast walk. I asked her through the gate and she went through calmly. Tonight she didn't feel the need to make her canter laps around the yard and instead made her way to the trailer and loaded herself at liberty at a trot!!

I repeated the lesson of the past two nights but increasing the intensity and speed of the tapping all over the trailer. I only did this because America was fine with the previous two days activities and I read her as being confident enough for me to up the ante. She was standing in the trailer, eating with her right hind leg cocked.

After America was confident with the increased intensity of the tapping, I began closing the trailer door and again she was fine with this. She felt the need to back up a couple of times but I let her come out of the trailer then asked her to go back in which she did readily with just a point. I should note here that when she did come out of the trailer, she only backed 1/2 way out, not all the way, and stopped and she was confident enough to go back in when asked. We progressed to where I could close the door for up to 30 seconds (I didn't latch it just in case!!) and she just continued eating.

By this time America had finished her grain and had moved on to the small pile of hay I'd placed in the trailer. I went to get her soaked T&A cubes and she turned around in the trailer and was watching what I was doing. She had moved to where she was 1/2 in and 1/2 out of the trailer (her butt was in the trailer) so she could better see what I was doing. When I came back with the soaked cubes, of course she was facing the wrong direction and wanted to turn around. Instead of her coming all the way out of the trailer and turning around, she backed herself up into the trailer! It took some effort on her part to get her front feet back in the trailer and at one point she was nearly sitting on her butt trying to do it. I was worried about her trying to do this as I didn't want her to scare herself but I was concerned if I stopped her it might make things worse. She figured it out pretty quickly and wasn't worried at all, in fact she looked pretty pleased with herself!! Of course I fussed over her, scratched her favorite itchy spot while she reveled in the scratching then left her to eat the rest of her meal.

I'm so pleased with the past three days lessons and how well they've gone. I'm also very happy with the level of effort America is putting into this, her willingness, and her confidence. She's a VERY special Mustang. I have to add, all of this has been done at liberty...her choice to stay with me and participate!! LOVE my girl!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 2 - Trailer Loading 1.1

Today was day two of our trailer loading program and I'm happy to say everything went very well. I started by getting her feed ready while she watched intently. I purposly opened the trailer door while fixing the food and America actually stood, looking into the trailer. She definitely remembered the session yesterday. When I got the feed together and put it in the trailer, I went to let her out of the pasture. At liberty, I asked her through the gate and she came through calmly then in her excitement she had to do a couple of laps around the yard at a canter. After those laps, she came trotting back to me and I rubbed her face then pointed to the trailer and she loaded herself nearly at a trot!!

I let her eat for a few minutes then began tapping around the trailer, rapping on the sides, opening and closing doors. America felt the need to back out of the trailer a few times but she didn't come all the way out, just her back feet then she'd go right back in. Soon she was confidently staying in the trailer even when I was making noise outside. Next, I started swinging the big, rear door to and fro and using approach and retreat, I was able to swing the door all the way shut, leave it shut a few seconds, then open it up again. America turned around a couple of times while I was doing this and was smelling the door, being curious about the whole thing. I'd rub her nose through the openings in the rear door while she snuffled my hand. When I opened the door wide open she didn't feel the need to exit the trailer, instead standing there looking at me. I again rubbed her face and a couple of times suprised her with a cookie. She certainly enjoyed that!

After we finished our session, I gave her some nice hay to eat in the trailer and left her to enjoy for a while. When I came back to fetch her and return her to the pasture, she didn't want to get out of the trailer!! I'd back her out and she'd go right back in...I'd back her out and she'd go right back in. I finally had to use my savvy string around her neck to ask her out and back to the pasture.

I'm so pleased with her willingness to trust me and her curosity and confidence. She's an awesome gal!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 1 - Trailer Loading 1.0

I'm preparing America for her first "big girl" trip off the farm on January 14, 2012. We are going to a private two hour lesson with Jerry Williams, 3* Parelli Professional and that requires hauling America to the lesson site about one hour away. I want to practice prior and proper preparation to set us both up for success since she's never been off the farm and the last trailer ride she went on was when I adopted her from the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Auction in Ocala, FL. She was uncerimoniously loaded in a trailer and hauled to my time for prior and proper preparation for that. I want this trip to be different for her!

America and I have practiced lots of trailer loading and she loads well and confidently but I've not yet closed the door and actually hauled her anywhere. Tonight was the first session in our preparation. I decided to make the trailer a really sweet spot for her so I fed her her evening meal in the trailer. While she was eating, I tapped on the outside of the trailer, opened and closed the tack room door and the access door on the side. America was fine with all that, barely batting an eye or lifting her head out of her food. She got mildly concerned when I started swinging the rear door to the's a big, wide door and it squeeks a little. She started to back out a little, not quickly but one step at a time and put her hind feet on the ground. I let her settle a little right there then asked her back into the trailer to eat her hay. This time when I swung the door, I retreated a little bit, not closing it so far...not past her threshold. She didn't get concerned and even took a step forward...I STOPPED moving the door at that point to reward her response. We repeated this several times until I was able to swing the door 1/2 way closed without her being concerned and stopped the lesson at that point. I let her finish her hay in peace and when I went to ask her to come out she didn't want to come out!! She stood looking out the door at the horses in the pasture while I gave her some lovin'.

I also have to say, we did all of this at liberty...her choice to go in the trailer or not and she chose to go in. Of course it helped there was food available but if she wasn't confident about going in the trailer, the food wouldn't have made any difference.

So, day one of Trailer Loading 1.0 was a BIG success. We'll see how tomorrow goes. The goal is to be able to successfully take her on several short trips before the "big" one hour ride on January 14th.