I went out to Hacienda Becerra today and volunteered to play with a 10 year old Percheron mare named Savannah Havana. (The Hacienda is a rescue/volunteer organization mostly for off the track standardbreds (trotr.org) but they have all breeds, ages, and sizes out there; really nice folks too!) She has in recent months developed a behavior of bolting when she feels the line on her halter. I thought if I gave her 22 feet instead of 12, it might help. And that she needs more Friendly Game with the halter and line, and some Hide Your Hiney as bolting is an extreme way of turning her hindquarters at the human.
I made mistakes, learned a lot, and left things on a good note — for myself and for the horses. Continue reading
I figured since Linda and Norma (the Daily Parelli blogger) are both hounding me personally about getting in better shape, I would try the catching game in our nice sandy arena even though it’s bigger than a round pen — it’s 70 by 80 feet. It meant a lot of walking on my part, which was, of course, the point.
I haven’t seen any official “how to play the catching game” material but the problem-solving DVD of Liberty & Horse Behavior has some good examples, so I tried to model my actions and read my horse based on what I saw there.
We played for about 45 minutes after our normal on-line session, and Rocky responded very much like the mare on the DVD. At one point he was standing still in the middle of the arena, ears and eyes glued to me but feet still, pivoting beautifully on his hindquarters to keep his hiney hid.
I made some mistakes, of course. Once I reacted too late and ended up tagging him just as he was starting to pivot to give me two eyes. Another time I had my bullhorn pointing at Zone 1/2 instead of Zone 5, thus blocking him from moving out of my way or looking at me.
But overall, it worked out well. He followed me some, watched me some, took his eyes off some too. by the end, he followed me willingly and I walked to the pedestal and sat down and gave him a cookie.
Not surprisingly, the more immediate I got with my release (turn and walk away when I get two eyes), the better everything went.
Pressure motivates. Release teaches.