This was a very busy week at work. I had some time with the horses but not as much as I would like. Of course I always want more time. Today after I came hom, I wanted to do something but didn't feel up to lunging him. I headed out to the field and called them. They both came galloping up. Probably thinking that I was calling them for supper. I brought Steele in to groom him and then I realized what I should do- I hadn't done much 'sacking out' lately.
The purpose of sacking out is to desensitize horses to potentially scary situations so that they learn to trust their handler and not fall back on their instinct to bolt away. I put Steele back in his stall but left their doors open. This way they had access to their stalls and little paddock but not the bigger field. I then used duct tape to fasten a plastic shopping bag to a dressage whip. When I went to grab some carrots I realized that I was wearing a sweat shirt and my yoga pants so I had no pockets. hmmm. After reflecting on the problem I stuffed my bra full of carrots and went into the little paddock.
I carried the whip with the bag flapping down at about my waist level. As expected Irish bolted, trying to get to his field. Steele went with him. I simply stood still and let the bag continue to flap in the breeze. Irish trotted around making that blowing sound that horses do when they are spooked. Steele was with him but I saw him glancing my way. I stayed still and let the bag do it's thing. Within 60 seconds Steele had stopped and faced me. I did nothing. He took a step towards me. The bag flapped and he snorted. I kept standing there. He took another step then pulled back. I never moved. He then came back and right up to the bag and took a sniff. I gave him a bit of carrot and told him he was clever. He stayed with me and sniffed the bag again. I gave him another carrot.
After 30 seconds I moved the bag towards his side. Irish snorted and ran around some more, Steele did a kick at it and ran away. I wasn't worried. I knew what would happen next- he came right back. I touched his side again and gave him another piece of carrot.
Within 5 minutes I could rub the bag all over his body- by his legs, between his legs. over his head, along his back. He really didn't care, he was too busy enjoying the carrots. Irish meanwhile was staying well away and was making his opinion known about all this.
It was interesting, whenever Irish took a step towards me Steele would step between us.
Steele: "no Irish, stay back I will protect you"
Irish: "Are you eating carrots"
Steele: "no, I'm saving you"
Irish: "I can't believe you're letting that touch you."
Steele: "Ahhhh, it's eating me!! Stay back! Save yourself"
Irish: "I'm sure that you are eating carrots."
Steele: "no, no, I'm fighting the bag"
Irish stood a few feet away. His face was very disapproving of all these shenanigans. I lowered the bag and when he didn't move I gave him a carrot.
So here's what I learned:
1. Steele is very brave and Irish less so (not really a surprise)
2. Steele will lie to get all the carrots
3. working with a horse like Steele is a lot of fun
4. It was probably NOT a good idea for Steele to learn that I sometimes have carrots in my bra. I will have to invest in a fanny pack.