I don’t know what got into me, but I ended up taking off his halter in the arena and grabbing a flag and encouraging him to walk next to me, for his hand-walking therapy to help his body incorporate the arthritis injections. And he did. We played Touch-It all over the arena, mostly out of range of the Flip that I had gorillapodded onto the rail. I snorfled and licked and chewed each thing, mirroring him, while he gave me that By Equus, You ARE Crazy look that he’s so good at.
It was so much fun. For us both — he walked along briskly, ears perked, and even stopped when I stopped without my putting the flag or an elbow in front of him.
However, and there’s always a however, I almost (but not quite) regret it. Because we did it out of turn, jumping out of our program to a skill that’s beyond me. Not because we can’t play the games with the belly of the 22-ft line on the ground, because we can. But because I haven’t broken myself entirely of the urge to push.
When something is going well, I have this urge to try another step, and another step, instead of “leaving the party while we’re still having fun.” And after we did so well all around the arena and zig zagging through the middle, away from the rail…. I decided to try asking Rock to turn toward me. That way he would walk on the outside of our circle as we changed direction, instead of the inside. I put the flag stick over his neck and let the flag hang in Zone 2 of his off side. We haven’t practiced this On-Line at all, except as part of general Friendly Game get-used-to-the-flag. I confused him and, I think, offended him, and sure ’nuff, he tried to walk off. Then I compounded my rudeness by blocking him, and then he did his Transformer thing from 16.1-hand injun pony to 19-hand warhorse-posing-for-sculptor. (Unconfident, not threatening!)
At least at that point I realized what I was saying with my body, and I let all the life out and softened my eyes and went as Friendly as I could. He deflated a bit and walked past me to his favorite corner, where he can gaze at the mini donkeys in their pen, and I put the flag away and grabbed a few tiny cookies. He approached me, somewhat hesitantly but at least it was a step, when I got near his corner, and I gave him the cookies and an apology. He then did his half-bow for me, so I think we’re square.
- Pushing like that doesn’t put the relationship first. It makes liberty a test rather than a celebration.
- If I do slip into that Bossy Older Sister Make-Instead-of-Want mode, drop it immediately. It hurts nothing to stop, give a long break, and start up again as if it never happened.
- Be patient if it set us back on our next session. Rocky forgives almost as fast as he learns.
Shoeing update, with pictures…
Rocky has been sound without back shoes for a couple of days so we’re going to let him go a month and see if he’s okay.
The front, however, need the wedge shoes, as he has no concavity (“flat feet” in human terms), his coffin joints want the support, and his hooves are “like butter” according to Scott the Farrier, Originally from Canada.
He thinks it’s the sudden change from dry, dry, dry Los Angeles suburbs to knee-deep muddy Penn Valley and that next winter he’ll probably acclimate better. Hope so, ’cause those hoof supplements in his feed are expensive.