Well time has been at a premium this past week or so, but I’ve managed to work with Zeke at least 20 minutes a day. The first part of last week, those 20 minutes didn’t seem like they were worth much, though.
Every day I’d go into his pen, and every day he’d trot endless circles around me, not stopping until by some miracle I could grab the end of the lead as he went by. As soon as I put pressure on his head, he’d stop, turn and face me, and I could touch him. But it seemed like a serious case of miscommunication every day – as soon as I stepped in, he’d take off trotting a perfect circle around me, turning his face to me as he did. I swear he was saying “This is what you want me to do, right?” Really, I just wanted him to stop running!
So on Wednesday, my day off, Cindy came over to watch us and play communications facilitator, which was a great help! Instead of allowing him to just run, I cut him off on one side of his pen, and approached very slowly. He turned nervously quite often, but I didn’t smack his rear when he turned it towards me. As Cindy explained, it wasn’t a move of aggression or avoidance – he just didn’t get what I wanted from him. Eventually I got hold of his rope and we started leading again.
I approached and played with him 5 times that Wednesday, then some more on Thursday. We did really well – he still sucks back a bit when I go in with him, but at least he doesn’t run! On Thursday I took him out for a little walk in the aisleway, making a long chute for us by tying some doors together at either end of the row. Helen was nice enough to snap some photos for us, and they are below:
So we had a great weekend. And since then, in my quick 20 minute reviews before I run off to work, he’s been fully groomed, sacked out with a saddle blanket which he then carried around during leading practice, and even started picking up his front feet a little. We’ll keep rolling along!