Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Low-Key Day

Thank you very much to everyone who took the time to comment on yesterday's post - I appreciated your thoughts and was encouraged to read them. I think a lot of the pressure we sometimes feel when we work with our horses - or don't work with them - is really self-imposed and doesn't have to be there. I'm not showing and don't have specific deadlines I have to meet - even if I did I would need to feel free to modify them if things weren't progressing as fast as I had planned.

So my objective with Dawn right now is to spend time with her and build a relationship based on little things going right, so that I can be more comfortable around her (without getting so comfortable that I make the kind of stupid mistake that got me kicked) and so that she can be more comfortable and trusting with me. I need to be confident so she can be confident - our horses look to us for this and need us to be able to provide it. So we'll start by doing things I know we can successfully do together, and as we both become comfortable with those things, expand the circle little by little. Dawn has lots of issues she needs to work on, but we can't get to those things until she's more comfortable with me and I'm more confident and can provide that confidence to her.

Right now we're just grooming. I gave her a thorough grooming, tied outside the barn, including her tail. She was very good and relaxed for the whole thing, and the feet were no problem. I don't usually hand feed a lot of treats, but have found that with a horse that is disconnected or doesn't want to engage with you (like Maisie was when I got her) that treats can be a way to reward the horse for being with you and can spark some interest. So Dawn got some treats while we were grooming, which she seemed to enjoy.

We'll just take it one day at a time. I'm also going to try the treats when I take her to the pasture, to see if I can encourage her to spend a moment with me at the gate rather than galloping off when I release her.

7 comments:

  1. I enjoy my journey with horses - I learn more about myself...

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  2. Just caught yesterday's post tonight. Looks as if you got a lot of excellent advice.

    I wonder if some of the "Dog Whisperer's" advice would work with Dawn...in that the horse lives in the moment. Previous events and fears do play a part, but if you think only in today and act as if there is no past to worry about, it might settle the both of you.

    It is hard, I know, but it's kind of the "ride the horse you want" concept instead of imagining all the bad things. So work with Dawn as you might expect Mark Rashid to want you to.

    If Dawn is a "stomach" horse, treats will go a long way to creating a friendship with her.

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  3. Jean - thanks for your thoughts - they're very good ones - I've had versions of them myself - I think I need to build enough good experiences with Dawn that the bad memories get blocked out by the new experiences - it's clearly at this point my problem and not hers.

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  4. You give youself far too little credit Kate. No doubt Dawn is a very tough horse in some ways but it sounds like you're already heading down a path towards success with her. It will be interesting to see where you and Dawn are in your relationship in a few months.

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  5. Yay! I'm glad you are feeling better about the situation with Dawn. I don't hand feed a lot of treats either, but grooming has always been Panama's treat time. It was how I got him to trust me when he'd never been groomed before, and it turned into a routine. I use those itty bitty treats, and generally give him a half dozen or so during a grooming session. Other than when I say goodbye, that is the only time he gets them, so I figure why not indulge him a little then! It makes it more special for both of us. :o)

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  6. You have hit on something I remind myself of often: it's ALL GOOD! If I find myself feeling apprehensive, looking for excuses not to ride, I don't have to! I can do something else. I'm an amateur, I don't show. All I want is a decent relationship with my horses. No pressure. As I am apt to remind the worried-by-nature Pokey, "It's just you and me. Easy peasy. We can do whatever we want."

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  7. When I first got my horse too she would bolt away from me as soon as I put her in the pasture. Until my horse friend suggested I slip her a few treats at that time. You are right: it now gives me a few extra seconds with her. It may be just a few seconds, but to me, that is a very important little snap of time. A few carefully placed treats might get results!!

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