The barefoot trimmer was out today to do all the barefoot horses here and he did me a favor by looking at Rocky’s hind feet. He says they’re adapting normally and the most important thing right now is movement.
I’ve noticed that even now that Rocky’s out with the gelding herd in the daytime he’s not walking around enough so I need to make more time to get him out. Naturally, we are in the final throes of a huge software release at my day job and I have a ton of computer work to do. I wonder if it’s okay to sit in the arena with my laptop, after Erin finishes the day’s sessions, so I can work and just cluck whenever Rocky stops moving for more than five seconds.
Rocky and Pursuit were chewing on each other today, mutual grooming; I really see Pursuit working hard to befriend Rocky, and my silly guy being too anxious or – gasp – aloof? bad horsie! – to accept the overtures. I hope Rocky unbends before Pursuit gives up. Although, since Pursuit is for sale, maybe Rocky’s trying not to get too attached. I know I’m gonna miss Pursuit although not nearly as much as Erin will.
I spent half an hour with Rocky after the trimmers — Richard Robbins and his trainee Gino — checked him over, teaching myself to stay in Zone 3 and Rocky to drive forward and touch things, and not flinch when I use the carrot stick in Zone 1 from Zone 3. This is a Level 1 lesson that we somehow skipped by accident but we’ve almost got it now.
We also had a great opportunity to yo-yo through a threshold while Danielle dragged the arena in the huge orange horse-eating dragon tractor. By her last loop, Rocky was able to stand almost two feet closer before he hit his threshold.
I am happy with how that went. For one thing, I had a genuine “oh boy!” rather than a faked one after a big “oh no.” It was only afterward that I remembered how I usually think “dammit! this always happens!” when I have A Plan (particularly one that includes riding).
For another, I didn’t panic when Rocky exploded and hit the end of the halter. Didn’t even feel my adrenaline come up. As far as I know, I showed no emotional reaction at all, just turned my body a bit and yo-yo’d him back, matching his energy. It only took him a second or two to tune in and back up, and he went down the little slope until his butt was near the pen where he spends the night. I figured he’d feel safe there as he usually is in there while she drags the arena.
When the tractor headed away from us, I asked him forward, and then I backed him before it turned toward us so he was at the full twelve feet during her approach. Then forward, then back, timing it so by the end, he was going back after the tractor started toward us, and not going back all twelve feet. When she was ready to drive out, I moved him Sideways to yield the path, which also put the big open gate between us and the tractor, and he stood still (nervous, not calm) while she drove out and then away from us to her parking space, and he was able to follow it. I decided to follow just a few steps then go into the arena rather than follow and sniff due to other activities happening around us that would have made a nice smooth follow-and-sniff difficult.
In retrospect I’m glad I did that because it means we had the ‘normal’ experience of continuing to our goal, which was to walk around for 30 minutes on the nice soft sand, after dealing with a threshold (or at least, moving it closer to the scary thing).
The more I blog the more I realize the progress we are making. Looking at my On-Line Patterns map, we’re almost to Level 3. In fact I just checked – we have only ten sessions left in Level 2.
Guess it’s time to order my 45-foot line so I can practice with it before I attach it to the horse.