What to do, when, and when to stop

We played games in the front arena: session four, as I’ve not been able to carve out enough time all week for a real session.

He was more scared out there this time than he was last time; motorcycles especially set him off. We mostly did games with obstacles, rather than patterns, and I randomly seeded obstacles with cookies. However, I did look at the patterns map when I came back inside, and I want to get back to that because it gives us much more of a focus – a purpose – than just obstacles.

After about 20 minutes of games, he was relaxed for a few minutes, so I stripped him and let him be in there for a couple of hours with us just hanging out and playing fetch outside the fence. He stood in the corner closest to the other pasture, separated by only a driveway and two fences, but ventured out to touch the obstacles once he realized they might have cookies. When he was relaxed enough to blink, cock a hoof, look around but without swiveling his ears every half second, I put him back on the 22ft line and played more games, until it was so dark he was banging into obstacles (especially the cavaletti). I didn’t want to make him anxious, so we stopped.

For me to lick and chew:

  • After he was blinking, lowered his head, put his ears on me instead of swiveling all around, he still could go right-brain in a flash.
  • It was easy to get his energy up, such as for sideways at a trot, but I’m (finally!) not scared of that. Hmm, how interesting.
  • He spooked at the north corner but felt safe in the south corner.
  • He would follow when I led but didn’t want to go first toward the west fence (near the road).
  • I stayed calm and did not feel (and therefore express) frustration, fear, or aggression, even though I tangled the rope and savvy string more than once, and when he spooked from the north corner in my direction and I had to get VERY BIG! to keep him out of my bubble.
  • He tried very hard and succeeded in backing over a pole, asking several questions and willingly continuing to back.
  • He tried hard and when too scared to go west would offer games to the east, sideways and backing. When I allowed that, then gave him a moment, then asked for west again, then stopped him just before his threshold, he became more willing to offer west.
  • When Jedi got tangled in Rocky’s front feet and Rocky rolled him over and tried not to step on him, Jedi was able to get away and though he was scared he is only bruised, and Rocky wasn’t worried about it, and all because I didn’t scream or gasp or yell or panic. (But afterward – it was so fast – I almost lost it, inside, at the potential for Jedi to get hurt on the farm!)
Categories: Leadership | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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