Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Halters

Excuse me for being a bit remiss on my blogging as of late - between work, prepping for the holidays, a quick getaway to California, and an untimely head cold which became a bronchitis, I've not had much time for anything! I'm actually sitting in the Atlanta airport right now as we speak.... finally, a moment to sit down!

I've not been able to do much with Bay Girl over the past week (see above), but what I have done has been very successful. She continues to be easy to catch, and approaches the gate every time I come up. Yes! My boss reported to me that she also walked right up to her when it was time to catch her and bring her in for a rainy night. Double success!

Aside from picking up all four feet with success, I've also reintroduced the halter and have had very good results. If you remember from before, when I attempted to show her the halter and place it near her nose, she shot backwards as though I had shocked her face with a cattle prod. This time, I began in a confined area (a stall) instead of out in her pen, which worked well in my favor. When putting a halter on Bay Girl, it's first a matter of touching her face. She has been increasingly good about this, and is letting me rub all over her face with my hands as well as brush it with a brush. I even detangled her forelock a bit without too much fuss! Anyway, haltering.... so it begins with touching her face. This then progresses to getting a hand over her nose, which is where her objection begins. She tosses her head upwards against that pressure hard, and backs up away from the contact. In a stall, she can only back up for a moment before she gets herself wedged into a corner, and then she stops and allows me to continue. Note that she is not exhibiting fear while I am doing any of this, just objection... if she were afraid, backing her into a corner would be the LAST thing I would want to do because it would be a good way to cause panic on her part (and injury on mine). Once I have her stopped and have a hand over her nose, the rest of the process is easy. Slip the halter on over her nose, carefully place the crownpiece over her head, and buckle. Voila! This is FAR easier now than it has been, and she improves every time I do it. This is the first time I've been able to get the leather halter on her - I think she wasn't sure about the thickness (oh no large and scary!) of it versus her regular rope halter. She does not, however, respond as well to pressure in it... which makes sense. We'll be working on leading manners in the future.

Since the one setting back incident, I've been crosstying her in the pool barn (where there are concrete and enclosed wash stalls, and therefore no way to set back), and I've not had another incident of her going backwards since. We'll get back to regular crossties when I feel confident that she isn't going to shrink back away from anything that I do. Gogo was a habitual halter breaker in the crossties and while tied, so apparently I'm not the best at teaching horses to tie without fuss. But we'll see how I manage this time around.

The last thing to report is that I am SO PLEASED that she is letting me pick up all four feet! She is surprisingly much better about picking up her hinds than her fronts, and stands with one ready and cocked when she knows you are going it for it. I never lift them high, and I never crank on them, but I've never had her so much as resist having them picked up. This is the mare who used to cow kick so badly that she is permanently on the drugged list for the farrier when he comes to do her feet. I've not yet done anything with her feet except pick them and put on a little topical thrush medication for her fronts (caudal heel is decent but frogs are thrushy and therefore she lands somewhat toe first), but I've not had any problems with them. She does, however, hesitate and stand like a statue for the first minute or so when picking up the left front for whatever reason. She lets me rub all over her legs, poke her, tickle her, pull her chestnuts, and lean on her in attempts to get her to pick up the foot without any sort of objection at all... she's just slow right now to do it for whatever reason. We'll get there.

Overall, the progress has been fantastic and I'm really very pleased with her. Her "owner" (the man who owns the foal) came by last night to drop off a blanket... I wanted to pick his brain and ask him a million questions about her but my evening chores called me and by the time I could stop to ask he was gone. D'oh! I may have a lead on where she came from though... no guarantees but stay tuned for that!

Wearing the Big Girl halter AND crosstied properly (instead of on the lower ring due to her headshyness.... baby steps!)


  1. It sounds like your doing a really good job with her. Comgrats on the improvements so far.

  2. I still keep thinking she is a "Liza."

  3. Sounds like she's doing great! It sounds like she's a lot of fun to play with. She's so smart!

  4. Halter is looking good and it fixes perfectly.
    Horse Halter