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Recent News From Fantasy:

Walking

Fantasy and I have been walking (leading) up the street and back. We're doing this to help Fantasy understand that going out of sight of the other horses won't kill her, to work on her leading skills, and to help her learn to accept what a human asks calmly.

The first trip was a nightmare. Rearing, plunging, screaming, foaming with sweat. Poor kid thought it really was going to kill her. Let me add that this street is about .2 mile, if that, and she could see the other horses if she stood still and looked.

Second trip was hyped and freaky, but all right.

Third trip, she's starting to get the idea. Walk a bit, stay calm, get invited to have some grass. Walk again when instructed, stay calm, have a bit of grass. She got a touch tense when we were on the way back, but overall did really well. After we have another of these, I think I'll start on trailer loading again.


Looking over the log, it seems I didn't include an entry about Fantasy's second surgery and the trailer loading. I'll do that now.

She had an injury that chipped a vertebra in her neck. She had surgery to remove the chips. They were hesitant to be aggressive about digging out the chips, because it was close to the spinal cord. Apparently they missed one.

She was very good to load for the first surgery. We'd been working on it for several weeks--the discussion of this is in her archive, I'm pretty sure.

So I went to refresh her memory about trailer loading when we were planning the second surgery. First session she walked about halfway in, looked VERY uncomfortable. I went ahead and ended there; didn't want to push her past that into panicky. Second session, she walked all the way in almost immediately.

Unfortunately, she then managed to hook her halter over a bolt in the door at the front. It "trapped" her, she fought to get free, and seriously panicked. Poor creature. I managed to get her loose, but getting her willingly into a trailer wasn't going to happen again any time soon. It was 3 days to the surgery. So we tranq'd her for the trip. Gah, I felt guilty. Poor baby was trying to cooperate and do things right. Wasn't her fault she got stuck and scared.

Since then, I have left the trailer alone and been working on bonding stuff. Getting her to calmly accept what I tell her, even when she is scared (such as walking up the street). She's getting better at it.

So as I said, I think after another trip up the street we'll take up strailer loading again. Start fresh and ignore what's gone before. Just do what I tell ya, little girl, and we'll all be fine. ;)

(Added on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 @ 01:45:56 PM)


Backing!

Guess what WE did today?

First we put the bareback pad on Fantasy (she's well used to it by now)...

Then I put on my helmet and my body protector...

We led Fantasy to a pile of hay and put a sawhorse next to her...



Then I climbed up and put my hands across her (been doing a lot of leaning over her at mealtimes & such, so this was nothing new)...

Then I leaned way over, but still keeping most of my weight centered below me...



Then I slid my leg across (this is the point where she becomes part of my support, and if she flips out, I will fall)...

And sat!



And scratched her forelock



She was very, very good. I'm so proud of the Little Bit.

Please excuse the angle of the pictures. The photographer was also the holder/helper, and what a good job he did, too.

(Added on Friday, January 21, 2005 @ 08:23:37 PM)


Fantasy and the Medieval Barding

Well, it isn't barding really, but it certainly looks like it:



Doesn't she look like she's wearing decorative barding, or armor, or some such? (She is, of course, as cute as ever.)

Fantasy and I are trialling Cashel's new product, the Bug Suit. Apparently part of the design is that it is intended to help protect sweet itch sufferers. So I was contacted and asked if I'd like to test it out, since I have a "horse" (for very small varieties of horse) who has sweet itch.

Unfortunately there was a mixup and it arrived without the instructions, so I spent quite some time playing around trying to figure out how to put it all together. You can't see it in the pic, but it's got about 7 different pieces, including pieces to protect the underside of the belly.

I was *so* proud of the little girl! She pretty much just stood there and let me play around. She even dealt with it just fine when I picked up her forelegs, and slid the foreleg coverings on over her hoof. She was great.

About a week and a half ago, Fantasy got to be the model for a number of shots for my upcoming book. She was very very good for that also, and eventually figured out that for SOME strange reason, we wanted her to stand just so and not move. I think she's a natural model ;) I suppose that goes well with her cheerleader personality.

(Added on Thursday, January 20, 2005 @ 11:09:21 PM)


Fantasy wore a Bridle and a Bit and a Saddle!

Fantasy has been carrying around a bareback pad nicely, ignored it after the first "what on EARTH is THAT thing?" (previously I was setting various things on her back, and then she wore a surcingle) She's been doing all of her recent in-hand sessions wearing the bareback pad.

Today I added the halter-bridle, which is so convenient for a million different things. In this instance, the halter part was sitting securely on her head while I dealt with the bit. I used my french link, having noted that her palate is a lot lower than the TBs'.

(Boy was she cute. Little daaark chestnut flaxen pony in a purple bareback pad and a burgundy halter bridle.)

She really didn't know what to make of the bit, and she chomped at it. She opened her mouth, stuck her tongue out, mouthed at it. We walked around until she was fairly calm (and had attempted to take a few cookies, although she couldn't figure out how to make it work).

She spent much of the time reverting to her old habits...trying to walk leaning on me. I think she was feeling a bit insecure. She's such a needy baby. (No, of course I didn't let her lean on me. She just made the attempt.)

We had our first spook, too; while we were over by the fence, one of the idiots with ATV's went zooming down the road. Noisy. She leapt straight up in the air, pawing as she went. I think it ordinarily wouldn't've bothered her so much, but she was feeling a bit hassled...

Anyway, she eventually was doing better, so I stripped her naked and turned her loose. She was much happier to take cookies once the bit was gone. Entertainingly enough, she tried to bite the bareback pad! I think she'd've gone for the bit, except that I had already hung it inside the barn. So despite calmly ignoring the bareback pad for so long, she evidently decided it needed Fantasy teeth marks today.

(Added on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 @ 01:28:21 AM)


Fantasy, Lunging (or not, as the case may be)

Fantasy has always had a lot of trouble with me getting behind her shoulder. She hides her hindquarters when she is afraid; clearly she is worried about being whapped. This is leading to a lot of trouble when it comes to lunging.

First session: I verified that she remembers walk, trot, and whoa all from voice. Then I moved out & back a little, and ask for a walk. She panicked and froze up. Most horses would respond to a person in the driving position (behind the driving line) by moving forward; Fantasy has a mental block, and simply freezes. If I can get her to move at all, she pivots and faces me.

She's perfectly happy to do whatever I want her to do, as long as I stay forward of her shoulder. So that's what we've been working on. I ask her to walk or trot, and gradually move inwards on the circle--but not back. She's now managed to complete several circuits at trot with me between 5 and 10 feet to the inside.

We also had quite a long discussion about whether I was allowed to be on her right :) When I positiond myself to the right of her head, so that we could walk in large clockwise "lunge" circles, she dove back to the usual position (with her nose at my right shoulder). After a lot of coaxing, we managed to walk around for quite some time with me on the right.

Everything fell apart again when I asked for trot, but that wasn't too unexpected. She dove back for the right again. I corrected her; only had to do it the once. The next time I asked for trot and indicated that she should be on my left, she halfway managed it.

We finished off the day with her starting to be able to move away from me going counterclockwise, and starting to accept that she CAN be on my right when going clockwise. That was enough for today.

(Added on Monday, November 15, 2004 @ 11:03:49 PM)


Fantasy updates

Well, since our last updates, the Little One has been down to the surgeon, come back, and been in recovery. She did really well in the trailer, was absolutely distraught when we got there and she couldn't find our TB's, and eventually was quite eager to get on the trailer & come home.

The surgeon tells us that she had some bone chips floating around under the puncture wound. Whatever caused the puncture also apparently caused enough impact trauma to break off part of the wing of her atlas. [The atlas is the first vertebra in the neck, at the poll.] They removed the chips, rounded off the bone, and sewed her back up.

They told us that they *thought* they got all of the bone chips, but they couldn't be sure. They said that if it didn't close over entirely within about 3 weeks, that they'd probably need to open her back up and go digging some more. It's been more than three weeks; it's still draining. I'm going to have the vet out this week, I think, to take another look at it.

In the meantime, it's ALMOST completely better, and the overall sensitivity is gone. Fantasy will again allow herself to be haltered, and is being quite good about leading and responding to whoa/walk/trot voice commands. She's VERY clingy, though, and is having a little trouble with "stand." (just wants to stay at my shoulder all of the time)

We've also been working on lunging, 2 sessions now. Will make that into a separate log entry.

(Added on Monday, November 15, 2004 @ 10:56:20 PM)


Fantasy and the Trailer, Episode II

In our last episode, Fantasy would go alllllmost all the way into the trailer fairly willingly, taking about an hour and a half or so to get in there. No shoving, no shouting, just waiting and encouraging.

Progress since then has been such that she'll load all the way within about 5 minutes. She'll back calmly out when asked. She still pauses for a little while before getting her hind feet onto the ramp, but she's not being naughty, just thinking hard.

Over the course of multiple sessions, we progressed to the point of closing the doors briefly. Her surgery was rescheduled (could drive in the weather from Hurricane Jeanne, then the surgeons lost power until yesterday); we'll be driving her down tomorrow.

Today I put her into the trailer, closed, and locked the doors. She didn't like the sound; she tried to back out. Unfortunately, she panicked :( and scrabbled until she gave up (I have a very solid and quite safe trailer, which is good). It wasn't a long time, but it was certainly unpleasant for both of us. When she gave up, she stood there wild eyed and blowing and whickered pitifully.

When I stepped out of the trailer for a moment, then came back in, she started to panic, got ahold of herself, and whickered pitifully again.

I am sure that she recognizes trailers, and that she keeps expecting me to take her away. I was pretty sure that opening up the trailer and letting her out at that point would be a bad idea; I wanted her to come out of the trailer feeling relieved and in a more positive mood. So I drove aroooound the yard--slowly, 'cause it's bumpy, but never left sight of the pastures.

*Then* I parked, right where the trailer had been, opened it up, and went to her head to invite her to back out. It took a lot of coaxing, since she was now sure that the back of the trailer was a solid wall, but eventually she backed out (relatively calmly, in fact, which was my next concern).

A few minutes of grazing and telling her what a brave strong girl she was, five more minutes of coaxing, and she was all the way back in; another five of coaxing, and she backed out again. Good enough for today.

(Added on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 @ 06:27:07 PM)


Puncture, needing Surgery, and Trailering Lessons

Well, no recent updates on Fantasy. I was about to start her into regular ground training and getting her used to wearing tack, about a month ago. I came home one day and she had a nasty-looking puncture behind her right ear. Called vet out, got it treated & directions to dal with it. A month later, it was still draining and wouldn't heal.

Called vet back out after 2 1/2 weeks--had to wait, though, because she wanted to take X-rays and Hurricane Frances left us without power. We finally got power back, and vet came out. Vet looked at it and said that the puncture is affecting the bone. She likely needs surgery. She called the surgeon that she recommends, and discussed F-mare with him; he agreed that it sounded like a necessary surgery. So since they'll need to take Xrays right at the time of surgery, the vet ended up not taking any when she was out.

Well, to get F-mare to surgery, I'll need to be able to trailer her. So we spent today working on trailer loading. As far as I know she hasn't been in one for 5 years, and I have no idea if she loaded well then--or if she even travelled in a trailer to get there.

I don't yet have an apptmt with the surgeon, so I have a little time. So we went out today to spend as long as necessary to get her introduced to my trailer. This is an especially interesting task, by the way, as due to the location of the puncture I can no longer put a halter on her. She's started violently objecting to crownpieces. I've been using a neck rope to handle her for about two weeks.

I walked in, and stood there encouraging her to "Walk, baby." I held a cookie juuuuust out of reach in front of her, and gave her one every time I got a step forward. Every so often, I would use a gentle pull-release to help her figure out what to do. When we were really in sync, I managed to give the light pull just as she was stretched out to the max treaching for the cookie. When I got the timing right, that almost always led to a step forward.

She did really well. She needed a little encouragement to figure out how to get her front feet onto the ramp, and then again onto the trailer itself. She had some serious questions about her hind feet on the ramp, and we had a few rushed exits as she got panicky about putting her hind feet on the slanted surface.

After about the second of those rushed exits, I decided that she might be a little more comfortable if she had someone to keep her company. So I grabbed Kat, put on a head bumper, and loaded her on in (good girl, Kat!) Fantasy was a little more comfortable after that, and paused every so often to swing her head over toward Kat's rump looking for encouragement.

We eventually got to the point where she was ALMOST loaded, with both front legs well inside and the hind legs at the very top of the ramp. At that point I asked her to reverse out of the trailer, to end on a good note.

Very proud of the little girl. From a horse who wouldn't be caught, wouldn't be led, and hid her rump away from her handler any time she was confused, she's made so much progress We got her almost all the way loaded with only a neck rope [and lots of cookies]. What a good little girl.

I think we'll do this a couple more times. I'd like to get to the point where she loads and unloads a few times in a session. The next session after that I'll take her for a short drive and come back home.

(Added on Saturday, September 18, 2004 @ 03:59:24 PM)


Bravery

Today Little Bit was very very brave. I squirted the (water-filled) spray bottle right next to her as she was eating, and even in the direction of her feet. She also walked up and took a sniff of the end of the hose (off) when she was invited to take a look at it--started to get tense, but I managed to take it away before she decided to pull back on her own. Gradually pushing the comfort zone, slowly slowly.

As much as Kat is learning from Little Bit, I think it may go both ways: Fantasy is also watching me handle Kat and Duchess. Last night Fantasy stayed within about 5' of the TB's while I was flyspraying; up till then she had jumped & run any time we started spraying.

We have progress, we do we do.

(Added on Saturday, July 24, 2004 @ 01:38:25 AM)


Happy news

Today after dinner, Fantasy came 'round, Kat left her stall and hung around a bit. We hosed Duch off, so Fantasy (who had been going into Kat's stall) paused and gave us a loooong look. (She wasn't sure she should come in, since we were Wielding the Hose.)

While she was standing there, Kat came over and very lightly rested her nose at the base of Fantasy's neck. Oh oh oh oh oh! She TOUCHED another horse! And it was all her idea! I went and gave Fantasy a few hugs and told her that I'll forgive her for all the trouble she's put me though :) Having a real horse around has been so good for Kat. (OTTB's can be so socially stunted.)

We've had an interesting development, with Fantasy. Wednesday night, as I was putting fly repellent on her (still pouring onto a cloth and rubbing her with it), she was getting antsy and acting generally freaky. I went around and stood in front of her, looked her in the eye, and scolded her at length ("We've been doing this for long enough, and I *know* you've realized that it won't hurt you [...]") She gave me a very pitiful look and lowered her head; about stuck her poll into my chest. She's such a child...baby child.

When I went to hug Fantasy and tell her what a good girl she was, she did it again; not quite as extreme, but put her head down and leaned it toward me. I think perhaps she noticed the previous night that it makes my heart melt ;)

Tonight, after dinner, I was doing a little massaging and getting quality time with the girls. When I was working on Kat, a couple of times Little Bit came in close to sniff me and was chased off by flat-back ears and a glare. Went to do some work on Little Bit, who up 'till now has always been suspicious of me messing with the tight muscles. I think she decided that, since I'm doing it to Kat, it must be okay; she was very calm about it.

Then she started trying to groom me back. Very cute and sweet. She's clearly getting so much more comfortable with us. We do need to work on "lips are acceptable, teeth are not"...

She stayed with me up toward the barn, even after the other two had wandered way off into the front field. And when John and I went to leave the field, she stood there looking contented up 'till John put out a hand to open the gate--then trotted straight up to us looking worried; "Don't leave me!"

It's so different having a horse with very expressive body language and a lot of unsuppressed personality.

(Added on Saturday, July 24, 2004 @ 01:28:09 AM)


Catchup to Today

So our relationship has been improving. This is good. She is standing back when I walk out to dump her food; she's staying out of my space, she's not mugging me, she's walking *almost* right up to me, but asking for an invitation before coming quite close.

Two days ago we rode the TB's, and afterwards I brought F into the barn to do a small bit of grooming. The vet & farrier are coming to do her feet & teeth on Monday, and I'd like her to be a little comfortable inside on the flat/clean concrete floor, so they can work in there. She was anxious to be in there alone, but dealt well enough with a little verbal soothing (and a few cookies). While in the barn, I flipped the end of the lead rope over her back to keep it out of the way. I noticed that she was (comparatively) remarkably calm about having soemthing touching her back.

Yesterday I brought her in again, same deal. This time, I also set my Courbette on her. [I know someone thinking about getting a Lemetex-tree saddle (as in my Futura), and she has a Morgan with a rather broad back. I know that my Courbette will "flex" to fit Kat just fine, but she is relatively narrow. I thought I'd see how it looked on Little Bit. I was interesting, incidentally, it *did* look like it was the right angle on her. I'll have to look at this in more depth soemtimes when Little Bit is more comfortable with the saddle.] I took it right off again, and she was very good about the whole thing; a little wide-eyed when I brought it near, but otherwise all right. Then I did my spray-onto-cloth-wipe-cloth-on-horse routine with her--not so good as the last time, but she was already somewhat anxious about being inside. More exposure to being inside will help her to learn that thee's nothing to be afraid of.

Today, after lunging the TB's (who were very lethargic; even at 8:30 it was too hot), I went to bring Li'l Bit in and do some more barn-desensitization with her. Before doing so, I did a little more voice training--we'd been doing "walk" and "whoa," and she's starting to get those. Today I added "trot," asking for it 3 times. I think that may have been the trigger; I think she's starting to get the different voice commands now. We'll see tomorrow. ( Discussion of voice commands here.)

Also, several times she started to mug me, had second thoughts, and pulled back before her nose got to me. Good.

Brought her in, and started working with her on "stand" in the cross tie area. (No, I'm not remotely asking her to tie yet, just positioning her in there.) She is having a little trouble with stand; I got a few good moments and will do more on another day. She did, however, give me each of her feet with only a gentle touch on the leg. Definite progress :) Good stuff.

I wanted to rub her back a little, but unfortunately she was getting to the end of her attention span, so I decided to stop there for today. Got a few good moments, I think we're getting soemwhere with voice commands, and we definitely are having a better relationship-y kind of thing.

(Added on Saturday, July 03, 2004 @ 10:18:57 PM)


2nd Catchup Update

So, the next day, I planned to allow her some time to think. All I needed to do was to get the fly repellent on her--this is a must, due to the sweet itch. So far what I'd been doing was to walk about 5' away, spray flyspray onto a rag, walk back, and rub her with the rag.

By the end of today's flyspraying, I had gotten her lower legs sprayed, and also was able to spray onto the cloth without walking away. Minor victories, but victories nonetheless. I think we've finally started real work on the foundation.

Later on, Little Bit walked up to me, stopped with her feet just outside "my space," and reached over with her nose. I thought she was trying to mug me, but no--she was just sniffing me. This was something new :) She started at about my hipbone, snuffled all the way down to my foot, and back up again. It reminded me a lot of the way horses, when they meet, will sniff each other at the elbow and the stifle. I wonder if she was looking for my elbow & stifle ;) In any case, that's all she did, then just sort of stood there with her nose hanging toward me.

I know these sound like very small pieces of progress, but it's progress in an entirely different direction; she's looking AT me. She SEES me, and she's trying to learn to relate to me. She's starting to understand that what I do is not entirely random, and that what I do is not entirely unpredictable.

(Added on Saturday, July 03, 2004 @ 09:58:21 PM)


Overdue updates

Okay...I've missed a few updates. I'm going to get them all down tonight...they won't have the right dates, but they'll be in the right order :)

In our last episode, Little Bit was learning to keep out of my space and not to beg for treats. A lot of the difficulties we had begun to have were respect issues. And it wasn't so much that she was being disrespectful, as that she didn't realize that she COULD be respectful.

I had a frustrating episode with her, trying to get flyspray on (spraying onto a cloth, then wiping on her) and trying to introduce her to the hose--NOT to spray her with it, but just to get her to look at it and see it. She really just wasn't having any success listening to me; it's not that she wasn't trying, but she was just not hearing me.

I recognized the overall attitude. It's similar to the way Duch & Kat acted, for a little while after I got them. When I separated them, they would panic; they felt alone and abandoned. They weren't alone; I was there, but they were not SEEing me. It was like I was a moving element of the environment. They were looking *Through* me. I worked with them until they began to look *at* me.

Fantasy had some of the same problem. She wasn't seeing me; she wasn't hearing me. She was treating me as an unpredictable, moving object, but not as a creature with whom she could have a relationship. So. Time to establish a relationship.

I closed Duch & Kat off in the other field, and got out my lunge whip. I proceeded to ask Little Bit to move. Any time she was distracted or not paying attention to me, I made her move her feet. (I was never closer to her than about 30 feet or so during this whole process.) Any time she was looking at me I eased off.

After less than ten minutes, she was looking exclusively at me, but unsure how to respond to me. I dropped the lunge whip to encourage her to relax somewhat. I positioned myself in a way that was nonthreatening, and waited for her to make a movement. (Had her movement been to graze or to wander off, I'd have begun again.) This was the part that took the longest.

I was not facing her, but I could see her shadow. She stayed in the same pose for some time, looking at me. After some time, she began to lower her head, then lift it again. After a few repetitions of that, she lowered her head and left it down; after only a moment or two, she began to approach me. I waited for her to be right next to me, and turned to praise her.

The rest of that session was mostly walking around to cool her off (she's very out of shape, and that little bit of exercise was more than she's used to). However, throughout the walking, she clearly had begun to re-think her opinion of me. She'd start to try to mug me, then pull back. She'd start to come a little too close, then move out again. She was confused, but beginning to see.

As we went by the water buckets, I'd grab my cloth and dip it in one of the buckets, and squeeze it off on her. Doing this before the loose schooling session, she'd flinched and pulled back each time. After the session, she didn't pull back--she wasn't happy, she didn't rust it, but she allowed me to do it without fighting.

When I opened the gate to let her & the others back together, I expected her to shoot off to go get back with them. Instead, she followed me to the gate, followed me while I chained it open, and followed me as I headed back to the barn. I think she has begun to understand that we can have a relationship; I'm certainly not a horse, but I'm not a moving piece of the landscape anymore.

(Added on Saturday, July 03, 2004 @ 09:51:53 PM)


Sigh--

Today kind of stunk for Fantasy, though. LEt me start with the good stuff :)

She is definitely learning to stay out of my personal space. I don't think she tried to crowd me at all today, except at breakfast--eventually she'll figure that one out too. She gave me all her feet with only one hiccup--I think she forgot I had it, when I was doing her near hind, and (from a standstill) stumbled and yanked the foot out of my hand. Gave it back after a little asking, and we finished up.

She's doing very well with letting me swab SWAT on her face, even around her eyes. I am regularly getting to touch her ears--although only the outside. She's still way touchy about the inside. I would like to put some SWAT in there too, but it'll be a while yet.

She's still doing very badly with sprays, which is unfortunately because she was just being SWARMED this evening. I have got to keep bugs off her if I want to keep the sweet itch in remission; she needed a LOT of flyspray. She's been watching me do Duch & Kat; I thought maybe if I was firm & authoritative she'd calm down. Sigh--no luck. Rats! In the future, until she gets better about it, we'll be spraying onto a cloth and wiping the flyspray onto her body.

We spent a while after dinner working just on sprays. I held a cookie in one hand, and the spray bottle (with water) in the other. The spray bottle was off to the side at arm's length, pointed away. The distance from the cookie to the spray bottle was juuuust a bit closer than her comfort zone. But if she wanted the cookie, she had to walk closer to the spray. I'd offer the cookie, and spray with the spray bottle. After she took the cookie, I'd offer the spray bottle (no spraying) for her to sniff. She was getting better about it when I ran out of cookies (5 or 6) and took off the halter.

I also discovered another interesting wrinkle. When *I* started making short hissing sounds like the spray bottle, she stopped and thought about it for a long time. If I made hissing sounds at the same time as I used the spray, she was a lot more quick to come take the cookie. I think part of the problem may be that she spray sound is so foreign to her experience--but since *I* can make the same sound, maybe she'll start feeling that the strange sound is more safe.

I swear she was pondering on the whole thing, when I started making the sound; she just stood there with her eyes really big (she's a Morgan, her eyes are always big, but this was REALLY big). She thought about it for a long time, but after that, when I was spraying and making the hissing sound too, she was happier to come close & take the cookie. Interesting.

(Added on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 @ 10:46:08 PM)


My Personal Space

This evening we had a discussion about personal space.

I've been giving her treats to pacify her while treating the leg (incidentally, we have some proud flesh...sigh...and the squirting of the wonderdust makes her anxious). I've also been giving treats in reward in various training measures. She figured out quickly that she got treats when she was good; she has started looking for them. Specifically, she is walking right up to me and nosing my hands, then my pockets. I am a Treat Dispenser. She's also been very clingy since Lucky left; Duch & Kat are a little exasperated with her, so she's looking for more affection.

This is not acceptable, of course. Little Bit needs to respect my personal space just as much as if I were a more dominant horse. At this time, i think she doesn't realize that she can have a relationship with me; among other things, we're still waiting on the "click" that the reward/correction system has meaning behind it--that reward and correction are not random. Until that idea clicks, we're going to have some confusion. HOWever, she doesn't get to invade my personal space until then.

This evening, when doing other stuff around the barn, she kept walking right up and sticking her nose on me. The first few times I took my hand and pushed her head away. This wasn't a good learning experience for her, though, as she's still a little headshy. She became andxious, which made her MORE clingy. I had to stop using my hands, and my arms too.

What I did instead was take a stompy step toward her; if she didn't back off, I walked forward until my hip bumped her shoulder. I bumped repeatedly until she took a step back. Then I praised, petted, and walked back to what I was doing. After a few repetitions of this, she was backing off at the stompy step; after a few more, she was staying out of my space.

She got no cookies tonight. We'll see how tomorrow goes. If I'm a Treat Dispenser again, then there'll be no cookies tomorrow. If she can handle cookies only when offered, we'll do more groundwork of other kinds.

(Added on Monday, June 21, 2004 @ 09:59:05 PM)


Dewormed and proud flesh

This morning little bitty got her first dewormer from us. We'll do her again in about 2 weeks when Duch & Kat are due, then put her on a 2 month schedule after that. In preparation for deworming, i've been giving her applesauce from a wormer tube on occasion. I do this with Duch & Kat too :) They're much more cooperative about the wormer tube when *most* of the time, it means applesauce. She didn't like the Strongid, but was sucking applesauce out of the tube again by this evening.

Along with the dewormer this morning, I also did a little massage on her back, and put some garlic oil in her mane and tail (for bug repellent/sweetitch). I took a few more pics this morning, and did some comparison to the first day pics. I am now certain that I already see a little improvement.
Some conformation pics, and a comparison, here.

I went light on her today; she was exposed to a very odd concept, apparently: she was really, really interested when we were riding Duch & Kat. She'd stand and watch for a while, then charge up to one or the other of us and tryto sniff at tack or get a closer look. At one point she about had her head up Kat's nose, sniffing at the bridle & bit. Duch, of course, is very possessive of John when he is riding; Fantasy came close to getting into major trouble.

What with the excitement of watching us ride, and the wound treatment today, I decided she'd had enough--didn't need any structured work. The wound has unfortunately started to develop some proud flesh, and she really didn't enjoy me scrubbing at it. It was painful, poor baby. When I finished with it, and went to stroke her neck to reassure her, she flinched as my hand got close. She hadn't done that for several days. I am sad...not a lot I can do, but make sure that every time I have to hurt her :( I make up for it afterwards. I did spend a while longer stroking her and patting her, until she relaxed again.

(Added on Sunday, June 20, 2004 @ 10:16:11 PM)


Projected plans

Just a note on what I intend to accomplish with F in the next few months.

  • Voice commands: whoa, walk, trot, back. Probably I won't be able to do canter until she learns to lunge.
  • Teach her to lunge. In addition to the basics of lunging itself, this will involve teaching her both to move away from me without fear, and to accept direction from the lunge whip without getting upset.
  • Get her consistent on grooming and picking up feet, and generally accepting physical handling.
  • Teach her to accept the hose and the spray bottle.
  • Get her accustomed to the idea of something sitting on her back. Possibly get started on teaching her to accept something fastened around the belly; it depends how we progress.
  • I may introduce her to bits; I may not. Since she has a narrow mouth and a large tongue, I will probably use the french link.
  • She has a back issue; I don't know how it came to be, but I will be continuing to massage the muscles to try to relax them. I'm hoping to eliminate the issue completely. I will start taking regular templates of her back to track my progress, as well as side-on pictures fpr comparison.


Whew! That's a lot to throw at a little mare in such a short time. She's showing a lot of intelligence. I will have to be very careful not to proceed too quickly. An ability to accept an element of training does not indicate that she has digested it and understands it. I must remember to give her time to understand each step before moving to the next one.

(Added on Saturday, June 19, 2004 @ 10:42:04 PM)


First "real" training session

Since she arrived, I have been working with Fantasy at least twice daily, most days 3 or 4 short sessions. We're working on trust issues mostly: letting me touch her body without flinching, letting me pick up her feet, letting me touch her face; I'm moving closer to the ears each time also.

We've been working on desensitization to me approaching her with something in my hand; this terrifies her, which made treating the injury rather difficult. After twice a day (or more) handling sessions, she will now stand, loose, while I brush her--as long as she can see me pretty well. If I get to an angle where she can't see me well, she spins to face me.

She will also let me walk up to her while she is loose in the pasture, or even walk up to me. I can halter her without having to loop the lead line around her neck first. These are both great progress points, considering that up till today, I was haltering her just to treat the injured leg. Most of my interactions with her have involved the injured leg in one way or another. She doesn't seem to be holding it against me, which is good.

We've also been working on the spray bottle; I have an old bottle that was empty, that I've filled with water. Don't want to waste anything I paid money for ;) So far we have not made any progress; the sound still makes her jump. I'm pulling back. I'm going to start over, standing several feet away from her making spray noises. I'll continue until she accepts the spray noise at that distance, then slowly enlarge her comfort zone: get a little closer, little closer.

Today after lunging the TB's, I worked with Fantasy in a "real" training session. First I held a cookie in front of her nose while softly touching her with the lunge whip. She bounced sideways to evade it briefly, but then accepted the touch. She got the cookie as soon as she was still.

Then we worked on getting more specific with her understanding of her first two voice commands: "whoa" and "walk." I walked her around the field, saying "whoa" and stopping her, then saying "walk" and leading her on (accompanied with cookies as relevant). She's a smart little mare. She was catching on to the voice commands themselves by the end of one cicuit around the (smallest) field.

She also started getting nosey when she identified the point at which she had "earned" a cookie. At that point I stopped giving cookies until she had performed AND she had turned her nose away--she figured that out pretty quickly, too.

I'm very pleased. We're worlds away from where we started.

(Added on Saturday, June 19, 2004 @ 10:27:46 PM)


Early days with Fantasy

Fantasy still gets really shocked-looking every time we handle Duch & Kat, and they seem to enjoy it. Poor little girl...she'll learn soon enough.

The lacerations on her leg are looking much better, but the swelling is awful The lacerations are at the top front (meaty area) of her foreleg--the leg is swollen all the way down to the fetlock. She really did a number on it. I wish she'd let me cold-hose it.

I started taking off some of the extra hoof wall today; the farrier will be out soon but not immediately. I'm just taking off what is clearly overgrown (there's a lot of it). I did her front feet today, and will do her hind feet tomorrow--if I'm lucky; it looks like it's harder for her to hold them up than the front feet. She wasn't exactly cooperative about having her feet done, but she wasn't misbehaving, either.

We had a fun encounter with her later tho. We brought Duch & Kat in for a long cuddling session. I feel like they're being a bit neglected Hopefully soon she won't be taking up quite so much time, with her leg healing up. Anyway, she came into the stalls to get a better look at what was going on, and sat and watched as we groomed, flysprayed, picked feet--and gave treats! Then I got out the old dewormer syringe and handed out applesauce Since I'm going to be deworming Fantasy as soon as I feel like she can handle it, I thought that starting with applesauce might be a good idea. She loooooved the applesauce, although she couldn't figure out why I wouldn't let her take the whole syringe.

She's so cute. Such a sweet girl. I'm so, so relieved that we can take care of her now. She needs so much more than she was getting.

Lucky will probably be leaving us tomorrow. The girls will be distressed. Poor little ones...Fantasy's lived with him for four years, and my girls have had him as a neighbor for a little less than a year.

(Added on Friday, June 11, 2004 @ 02:04:58 PM)


Fantasy

Fantasy has joined our family. She is a 5-yr-old chestnut Morgan mare.

She's lived on the property next door since before we moved in. When we brought Duchess & Kat home, she broke through the (two-strand hotwire) fence in her eagerness to greet them. The adoration has been mutual, and our mares usually spend a lot of the day hanging out in the back corner, across the fence from Fantasy.

She's even jumped the fence, once, to get into our pasture. Pretty impressive; it's a 4' fence, and there were no sections down, no breaks in the fence.

She & her pasture buddy Lucky have been a bit neglected for a while. They never get handled, haven't had their feet done in forever, haven't had any shots, etc. It always gets me down...I've offered to help with their handling and I wished I could just step in and make a difference in their lives.

Today she got tangled in the barbed wire of her own field. She and her pasture buddy Lucky walked down around our front pasture (by a busy county road) and back up toward our gate. They were grazing there when we found them. We caught them, stuffed Kat & Duchess into a pasture by themselves, and led Lucky in through our gate. We had to drag Fantasy--she was hurt by the barbed wire.
This is why barbed wire does not make good, safe horse fencing.

We called a vet; she was so lame I was worried she might have broken or dislocated something. The vet thinks that it's all muscle & nerve damage, no bone damage. There's a lot of inflammation, and she hurts a lot :(

By the time the vet had sedated her (to clean out the wound), the neighbor finally got home. He came over to see what was going on (after getting a look at their own fence). He mentioned that he's given Lucky away; the new owner will be picking him up this weekend. He then started complaining about Fantasy...I offered to take her. Told him we'd even pay the vet bill. We'll keep Lucky until he's picked up, and he doesn't even have to repair his fence.

He went home to discuss with his wife, and came back and told us that we could take her. I'm very relieved--we certainly don't need another mouth to feed, nor the expense of all the care she needs NOW (shots, worming, farrier, Coggins, etc)--but not having to look at her, and know that people could be doing so much better for her, is going to be such a relief.

Tomorrow I get to clean out her wound, hose with cold water, etc all without the benefit of sedation. I also get to start teaching her not to be headshy--or body-shy--or basically that she doesn't have to whip herself away from me every time I get close. She'll get to start learning about the hose, and flyspray, and flymasks, and grooming, and all sorts of wonderful stuff. When she's recovered, she gets to learn more about Ground Manners.

Well, at least there is work I can do with her that will be relatively easy, considering my *&$% fragile back.

(Added on Tuesday, June 08, 2004 @ 08:41:25 PM)