DIY Horse ownership is having a giveaway. Olivia has a mule that she jumps, does dressage with, goes camping and trail rides. I am deeply envious of all that they get up to and love reading about their adventures. If you want to see an adorable mule and their green mustang you should totally check it out.
Now for what I've been up to:
I am busily re-writing Carmen and our relationship agreement and it's really working out better for the both of us. I am far more aware of her body language towards me and I do not tolerate any pinned ears or ignoring of my instructions.
I finally noticed that when I'm in her stall and ask her to move she will pin her ears at me at times. When she does that I now move her feet until her ears are forward and then I release the pressure. I am careful that I don't put myself in harms way- I do just enough to move her but not enough to cause her to feel defensive. Now when I ask her to move away she responds quickly and without the drama.
I'm working on the ground work- my timing is not always right because I'm still thinking about it but it will come with practice. Yesterday we worked with plastic bags tied to posts and with the hula hoop. She is not a fan of either but is becoming braver about the whole thing. I've also noticed that now she's looking for ways to relax about it rather than looking for ways to escape. For example, I was lunging her on a small circle and I was standing inside the hula hoop. When I asked her to halt she did, eyed the hoop and then dropped her head and sighed.
When she gets worked up and tries to run I 'shut 'er down' as Royce says and tell her to WHOA in no uncertain terms. I can see her processing this and mulling it all over.
What's even more interesting is what I'm seeing when I'm not actively engaged in training:
1. She's spending far more time away from Irish then I have ever seen her do. She doesn't seem to feel the need to be with him at all times. It's not setting too well with him some days. Tonight I was getting their stalls ready and preparing their supper. The two horses were hanging around. I took of Irish's fly mask and when I stepped away he went bolting out to his field (this is his 'thing': I want to eat but can't let you think I want to be in'). Carmen came out of her stall, looked at him, looked at me, thought for a minute, then came up to me and started licking and chewing. I took off her mask. She nuzzled me a bit and then went into her stall and I closed the door.
2. Carmen is following me more- On the weekend I was walking the outside of the fence line (checking it) and I looked up and she was following me on the inside. When I go out with their flymasks to put them on she will follow me after as I walk away.
3. She's more respectful of my personal space- I realized that in the morning I was opening the outer door and stepping back to allow her to come out. Now I open the door, come in, get her to move over and I walk through her stall. Once I pass she goes out.
4. She's happy to stand as long as I want her too, wherever that is- even if its half way out of the barn.
I haven't ridden her since Saturday but I have been working with her every day in some way or another.
This really feels like the right path to me.