February 28, 2010

We've Come A Long Way

Rose & AR the day
we brought her home.
I am disappointed that I didn't start this blog in October, because in the past 6 months Rose has come a very long way, although she has much farther left to go!

Day two with Rose I set out to A. give her a bath, and B. start teaching her to tie (this one I did not have to learn the hard way, as I was told before I took her home that she didn't tie). Accomplishing task A turned out to be a much harder task than anticipated as she appeared to be deathly afraid of the hose, spray nozzle, spray sound, and the feeling of water. After a futile attempt at getting her wet with the hose, a bucket and sponge bath commenced. This was clearly a task for another day, when I had help at hand (remember, at this point she didn't tie, so I had to attempt the bath one-handed whilst inevitably walking in circles). By the end of the day she was glistening and clean, but still unsure of the hose. I realized abruptly that I had a huge task ahead of me.

In the coming days, weeks, and months I set forth to introduce and de-sensitize her to every object that she might come in contact with in training and in her future. The first on the list was indeed the hose. After that first week, I had her standing for the hose whilst I sprayed her whole body. Next up was the fly spray and show sheen bottles, then brushes, tail combs, and pretty much anything from our tack room that I could get my hands on. These days, she might perform a piaffe when a cold hose hits her hoof, but otherwise none of the everyday objects are an issue. I highly recommend to everyone that they diligently and constantly expose their young horses to new objects and new experiences on a daily basis. It just makes everything so much easier later on down the road when it comes time to work with them.

Surprisingly, teaching Rose to tie was simpler than I imagined. A friend of mine that breeds and raises her own show jumpers suggested that I pick up a blocker tie ring and a nylon lead rope, give it some time, and go from there. I can't tell you what an amazing difference it made! After testing it once or twice Rose simply stopped trying to pull back and bolt from the hitching post. Within one week she was standing quietly at the hitching post for a bath or grooming or for any reason what-so-ever. After a few weeks and becoming comfortable with the tie ring on the hitching post, I decided to purchase a couple more and set them up as cross ties, and see where that would take us...

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