The Good, The Bad, The Fabulous
It was a week of all of the above. Zeke continues to learn very quickly, but he continues to test his limits a lot, too. But all in all, he’s doing fabulously.
We are still ground driving in the big roundpen, this week I put some sports boots on him on Wednesday, which he totally ignored. Some horses make a big deal shaking their feet, but he was cool with them.
What he is not cool with is the whole “pulling on the reins to go a way I don’t want to go” thing. He is still not quite a believer, as Cindy would say. He’s improving, for sure; this week we were able to turn figure eights through the center of the roundpen and increase and decrease the circumference of our circle. But every time it gets to a point where he just doesn’t wanna do it, he fights. His go-to move is the front feet – kicking out and this week, even rearing up a little. On Wednesday he insisted on turning the opposite way I asked, reared up and got the rope around his hind legs, and actually fell back on his butt for a second! Sadly for him, I was still holding the reins, so when he got up he still had to go the way I asked, but first he had to find a way out of the tangled ropes he made! Luckily he’s smart enough to do that, and after we got settled, we could relax again while I played around climbing all over him.
We also took a walk up in the wooden arena for the first time, and encountered many new toys (none of which, sadly, turned out to be for eating). He is definitely curious about new things, rather than afraid, which is great!
After our Wednesday workout, Zeke has his very first rinse off! He was quite suspicious – not of the hose, or the noise it made, but he wanted to be sure I wasn’t washing him down with acid. He leaned as far from the spray as possible, but when his skin didn’t dissolve, he thought it wasn’t so bad after all.
Thursday’s workout found Zeke packing a new friend along:
You may not believe me, but I hung this raincoat over the rail as I saddled Zeke, so he’d get used to seeing it. Then I placed it on the saddle, buttoning the top button over the horn so it wouldn’t slip. I went to get his bridle, and when I got back, the raincoat was hanging over the railing again. Seriously. He is smart. I decided I’d better tie it on while he worked!
We spent a good long time ground driving, while Zeke looked for new ways to be rid of my influence. He did the rear again. He started anticipating that if I drove through the center, he was going to be asked to turn the other way. So he just started turning on his own – which meant I had to start driving him through without turning, so he’d learn to wait. I appreciate his intelligence, but he’s supposed to wait to be asked! Once he headed right for a white block I set in the arena to drive around, and when I didn’t turn him he hopped up, all four feet off the ground! Unfortunately his raincoat friend didn’t stay with him there, and he had to deal with it hitting the ground. But he handled it all, and all in all had a great day.
After roundpen, he got to have his feet handled by one of our riders, Art. He needed some practice letting guys pick up his feet, because next week is going to be his first hoof trim!
After hoof practice, we walked into and out of stalls and tack rooms in the barn, and since he followed me so willingly, we walked on down to Helen’s trailer, too. And you know what? He followed me right in, and backed out when asked, like he’d been doing it all his life. In fact, he did it better than a lot of horses who have been doing it all their lives! Considering the only time he’s been in a trailer he’s been rounded up and run in, I was quite impressed!
So a pretty big week for me and Zeke (that rhymed!)
I think another week of driving is appropriate before actual riding – he needs to truly believe that I am right in any situation, and he should unquestioningly follow my direction, not rear, not get frustrated, not run off, and not make his own choices. And that’s a lot to ask of anyone! So we’ll see how he does for the next week while I drive him both in and out of the pen – we do have to start driving around the ranch once I can trust him to listen to me and not run. Then we’ll make some plans for his first 5 days of riding.
Oh – and I was not a finalist in the writing contest. What can you do, right?