Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Ropes

Yesterday morning when I was walking to the barn, I heard, and then saw, the first Sandhill Cranes of fall - they were flying low from one wetland area to another, doing their marvelous clattering, rattling cry. Sometimes large flocks - 100s of birds - fly over at such a high altitude that you can barely see them - they have an 80" wingspread so that's really high if they're almost invisible - but their calls still can be heard clearly.

This morning, it was even cooler, 41F overnight, but the clouds were mostly gone and the sunlight made the wind seem less cold. Scout's leg is looking much better - hardly any swelling this morning. He's still a little sore on the concrete, but it's great to see him finally getting better.

Yesterday, Dawn and I did more rope work in preparation for ground driving. I rubbed her all over, first on one side and then on the other, with the coiled-up driving line, letting its coils fall against her legs, belly and hindquarters. She has no reaction to any of this and in fact seemed a little bored.

Then we moved on to putting a rope around a leg - starting with a front leg - and rubbing it up and down her leg and pulling on it gently. No reaction, increased boredom. We did this with one front leg and then the other. Then I let the rope fall to her ankle and started work on "leading by the leg". I would gently pull on the rope around her ankle - no reaction - so I used a secondary cue on her halter to ask her to step forward. She still hasn't quite gotten the idea of responding to the pressure on her leg by giving to the pressure, but I think we'll get there after a session or two. Giving to pressure isn't something Dawn does well, although she's actually very sensitive - it's like she pretends pressure isn't there. Same thing on the other side, with the same response. We'll only do hind legs once she's truly got the idea of giving to the rope around a front leg.

We did a little clicker refresher in the arena with the cone, working on getting her to stretch down and touch the cone on the ground. That was it for the day. She's started on her Mare Magic supplement, but it's probably too early to see any results, and besides she's out of heat now. She was very calm for all the work, which is good in any event.


  1. I've never experienced Sand Hill Cranes--I think my husband did in Nebraska. Here it's Canadian Geese and Osprey. I really look forward to the geese. I've never done the pressure on the legs like that, what is it you want her to do, relax it or step forward?

  2. Yes I guess we'll have cranes passing south soon too, they are quite a magnificent sight flying in formation but sadly we never see them close up.

  3. Linda - I want her to learn to give to the pressure of the rope and move her foot and leg in response - we should get to the point where I can lead her anywhere I want just by using a rope around any leg to get the legs moving. The purpose is to make sure the horse learns to give to the pressure of a rope, rather than pulling/fighting against it in the event of line entanglement while ground driving. This could also be useful in other situations such as a horse getting caught in fencing or wire. It's also useful for Dawn, who is learning to be attentive and try to respond to what I am asking.

  4. Nice start with the ground driving. That should be a good way to do some special training with Dawn.

    No Sand Hill Cranes on the East Coast, so I will just have to imagine them through your blog.

  5. It's good that she seems bored with the rope. I'm sure ground driving will go well. I like the idea of the clicker training.I've never tried it, but I have bought the clickers and researched it. I'm interested in how all of this training goes with Dawn as I'm thinking of trying it with one of our horses.


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