12.22.2012 Is She Cheating or Just Clever?

Down Under Horsemanship Fundamentals Training Week 3 Summary:  Because of footing and weather issues, I didn’t work with Ophelia as much as I did in the first two weeks of our training.  Still I managed at least four sessions in the last 7 days.  We are still working on the material on the first five DVD’s.  During lunging, her turns keep getting better and she is starting to realize the center of the round pen is a good place to be and will come into the middle when I invite her, but she’s really not coming in on her own.  A couple of days ago, she just started yielding her forequarters with very little pressure from me.  Can’t tell you how huge that it is.

The big thing that’s troubled us this week is backing up.  Ophelia would really rather not and she came up with all sorts of ways to dodge my requests this week.  Luckily for me, my farrier gave me some tips on what to do when she tries to evade me.  I can back her up, but it’s like sending her through molasses. When he backed her up, she marched.

What really became evident this week was Ophelia really doesn’t like being worried and frantic, but she doesn’t know how to calm herself down.  For example, Monday was farrier day for everyone around here and Ophelia was the last horse on the list for a trim.  All the other horses were up in their barns and out of her line of sight.  Naturally, she had a panic attack.  She ran the fences for a good hour while waiting her turn.  And I let her run, because physically she needed the exercise.  Mentally however, this pushed her into a panic attack.  So when it was finally her turn, she wasn’t in the best frame of mind for standing calmly on three legs.  She was tense and fretful.  I got her feet moving, spun her around and backed her up.  Then my farrier, who thought I was being a woos, backed her up and moved her around.  Then (and it happened fairly quickly) she let out this huge sigh as if to say, “Oh, thank you!”  Her head dropped, her eyes drooped and she was a dream for the rest of the appointment.  She wants to be a good girl.  She wants to be calm.  She really does.

Today I finally watched the sixth DVD while I was folding a mountain of laundry.  The lesson for today was called lunging for respect and involved sending the horse away and then bringing him to a halt with his eyes facing you.  This is done just by stepping toward his rear end and looking at his haunch.  Once the horse is standing and facing you, you pull the halter/lead rope and “reel’ him in.  After watching it, I had a strong urge to go out and work with Ophelia for the 2nd time today.  So I did, and it was as if she had seen the video too.  No worries, mate.  We just did it.  Very awesome and very rewarding.  I know she can’t be cheating so she must be clever.  But then, we knew that.


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