Waaay back, in December of last year *good grief*, in very small type at the bottom of a post talking about Hubster's Christmas present I mentioned that I had gotten my Christmas present early and I'd fill you in on it later. Well I guess this definitely qualifies as later! lol
My present that year was a red roan weanling filly, not bred to be a barrel horse but with decent enough cow bloodlines that she'd cross nicely on a running bred stud if I kept her. My neighbour had a few too many horses and was blowing out young stock so even though I wasn't really looking I checked them out anyway. One of my boarder's actually picked up a horse at the same time, a 4 year old halter broke mare too.
And here's why this update has been pending for so long... my weanling, who I called Shine, was supposed to come halter broke as well. She. Was. NOT. And I'm more than a bit embarrassed to say that it's taken til now to make any real progress.
I worked with her a bit over the winter, but I also rode more than I usually do in the winter so I didn't have quite as much time with Shine as I would have liked and she needed time. The year before when I got Sarita she was halter broke and just a lot easier to work with due to her mind and temperament so any sessions with her were short and easier to fit in (looove the mind Frenchmans Fuego puts on his foals!!). Not so with Shine, she had been pasture raised so had no clue about people and was flighty & catty as heck. She was haltered in a chute and loaded into the trailer in a chute, not really a great first impression of humans. So when she got here we kept her halter on with a drag rope.
Well, that drag rope was sorely needed. She learned to give to pressure but she didn't come around to giving to pressure when it was a person on the end of that rope. Slippery winter conditions, lack of time, and frankly not having a lot of strength and the little miss was not progressing. Spring and summer came and I kept thinking "I really need to find time for Shine". Didn't happen.
Then a couple weeks ago I brought home another filly, another Fuego baby :D and I told myself that before I play with her too much I **really** need to make time with Shine a priority. So this last week my friend JL came to help me... I needed the extra muscle (which is hilarious if you only saw JL and didn't know her, she is petite but she is s.t.r.o.n.g.) and know-how. You see Shine has been such a tough nut to crack that I was having doubts in my own knowledge and ability. Having a supportive friend that thinks about and handles young stock similar to how I do was a much needed asset.
And you know what? She came around. She no longer had a drag rope, it had broke a couple weeks earlier to about 2 feet, so we couldn't rely on using that to get her caught and instead did some flag work. We worked her the first day for close to an hour and a half (she did have some breaks to "download" and process things). She was caught in about 30 minutes and not long after that her weanling halter (which had previously been loosened but was still on and starting to get tight) was changed out to a bit bigger nylon halter. It was pretty evident that halter would be too big both to leave on her or to work in so I got a small rope halter and we switched it to that.
That alone was huge! Shine has been super protective of her right side. Even when we could get her caught before she would *not* let anyone on her right side or touch the right side of her face. She was so protective of that side that we were wondering if she had an issue - poor vision, nerve damage, something.
We spent the rest of the session getting her to move around us with the flag like we'd learned in the Tilley clinic. Getting her to move softly, getting some bend and relaxation. "Catching" her again and rubbing all over her as much as possible. She started to crave face rubs on her right side as much as the left. :D
The second day I still needed the flag to catch her, but she was caught in 5 minutes. We worked on the same stuff as the first day but her whole session that day was maybe 45 minutes, including breaks.
The third day, well JL and I cheated a bit and went riding but when we came back we went and caught Shine. Again it was about 5 minutes and we used the flag.
The fourth day we got her caught and did some work moving her with the flag and then progressed to desensitizing her with the flag touching her body. I hesitate to say desensitize though. We don't want to take all life out and have a horse not react to the flag at all, after all it is a tool to move them too. However we don't want them freaking out over the flag (and later saddle pad, ropes, blankets, etc) touching them. So there's a balance there. She came around quite well.
Now here's the real sign of progress... last night when I went to do night chores I needed to check the waterer and when I entered the pen she shares with Sarita she turned and looked at me. Sarita stepped off to the side to wait by the fence, after all it is feeding time lol but Shine held her ground. I wondered if I should even try approaching her, after all I didn't have the flag for back up if it was needed. I took a breath and thought "well you need to try sometime" and started to approach her. I got quite close and then you could see her start to think about leaving so I eased off the pressure by not moving forward and turning slightly away. After a second she relaxed and I let her settle a bit longer before moving forward again. She stood square, relaxed but alert so I put out my hand and waited. After a second she reached for me so I rubbed her face; first on the left, then center, then right, gave her poll a rub and then stepped back. She stepped into me so I grabbed the tiny rope that was still left from her drag line and led her around a few steps. Then let go and rubbed her head all over again and then went to check the waterer (she followed a few steps! Then realized I wasn't going to visit and went to see if Sarita had found supper lol).
Having Shine go from pretty much untouchable and wanting nothing to do with people to facing up and asking for scratches... that feeling is SO good!!
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