Starting in Spurts and Stops
The first week is in the books. Did everything go exactly as planned? Does it ever? Not with horses, rarely with anything else.
We made good progress. Scratch spent the week in his square pen. I did think he would hook up to me a little quicker. He remains a bit stand off-ish.
I thought I had desensitized him plenty to the halter around his head and neck. Scratch seemed fairly calm, as the horses do. He was quiet as I lunged him. When I went to put the halter on it bumped his nose and that's when I noticed I had neglected that body part. He pulled his head back and I tried to go with him, but didn't. This meant it was back to the starting point and doing it all over again. The progression was slow. When it came time for the second try he was ready.
Once the halter was on it was obviously I take leading my horse Jessie for granted. Scratch doesn't know how to give to pressure. He doesn't know to follow me. Leading was a foreign experience. We worked on this for hours. The big problem was leaving the square pen. He did not want to go through the gate. Thinking back on Scratch's interaction with humans, bad things happen around gates. When he was caught and gelded, he was likely sent through a gate. When Scratch was loaded in our trailer, yep, through a gate. Now, we don't make excuses for the behavior, but situations like this, I think it is good to know. The knowledge helps me decide how much time I'm going to spend on this issue. We worked on it slowly and in a way that kept him comfortable.
Just like the haltering, I rushed to handle his feet. He got really nervous and it was necessary to back up and take it slow. Just today I was able to pick up each front foot for two seconds and hold it. They will need a rasp soon. We'll keep working on this.
The Jeffries Method is a desensitizing technique. It is so much fun. I jump up and down next to the horse. Then I put my weight on his withers. Then I jump up on his back and just lay over him while rubbing him all over. He loves this. He gets a good rub down. As Clinton said, "There's just something about having you heart next to the horse that really quiets them down."
Below is a short video of our adventures for the first week:
Thanks for following along!