Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Set Back with Mika

Mika is a pretty mare, a lovely mover and very smart.  Smart is good - it means she can learn.  BUT it also means she can learn bad habits easily and is always thinking about how to outsmart you.  A smart horse keeps you on your toes.

Last week, we had a little set back.  She had gotten much easier to catch in her stall and was more relaxed in general. I could rub all over her with the exception of her back legs, and I had been rubbing her with a whip (so I could more safely touch/handle her back legs).  On Saturday morning, I caught her in her stall, lead her out, and picked up the longe whip.  I was planning to work some more on rubbing her with the whip before letting her go in the pasture.  However the act of picking up the whip startled her, she pulled back, ran through my hotwire fence and wouldn't let me near her.  She was out in the pasture for a day, dragging a leadrope and making me a nervous wreck. I had put my horses up so they wouldn't get tangled in with her.  And luckily she was wearing a break away halter, but I still worried she would get caught on something.

Now, she shouldn't have pulled away and run off. BUT I also did a few things wrong that morning.  I wasn't wearing gloves, so it was easier for her to pull away.  I also immediately went to try to catch her instead of letting her settle down a bit.  The pressure of being caught is what sent her crashing through the hotwire fence to be out in the barnyard.  And I was upset and angry which I know she could pick up on.

So that evening, I went out with a better attitude and her grain.  She still wouldn't let me near her, so I took the grain and walked off.  (And worried).  By the morning, she had settled down.  So when I went out with a calmer attitude and a bucket of grain, Mika walked up to me and I caught her.

So now Mika has a new set up.  Her stall/feeding pen has been attached to the round pen.  So she spends the nights in her feeding pen.  In the morning, I catch her (she's again being good about being caught) and lead her into the round pen and work with her a bit.  If she pulls away from me, I make her move around the round pen for a bit.

The first time she pulled away, I had her run around the round pen. I let her stop and she turned to face me, so I walked up to her.  She took off, so I sent her off running around the pen again.  We had to do that three times before I could catch her.  Then I was able to work with her for a few days without problems.  Then a few days ago, she pulled away again. I sent her running around the round pen.  When I let her stop, she stood still and let me catch her.  A few minutes later, she started to pull away.  But you could almost see her thinking: If I pull away, I have to really work.  Is it worth it?  And she didn't pull away.

Unfortunately it'll be a while before she's going out in the pasture with everyone else.  but she can see the other horses now and we're working on desensitizing her. 

She's teaching me a lot about MY attitude and my patience.  And she forces me to be in a good frame of mind when I work with her.  She's too sensitive and she misbehaves when I'm not "there" mentally.

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