Another day of Calmer, Braver, Smarter tasks. This time only 2: bobbing for apples in a water vat and pin-wheel alley. To make pin-wheel alley, I purchased 6 $1 brightly colored pin-wheels that have wooden stakes, that I simply pushed into the ground. Today I placed them about 3 feet apart, three pin-wheels on each side.
I worked with 5 horses total, but to me, if a horse is non-reactive then they are already de-spooked. Not that this is a bad thing at all! But to gain points I can only count three on any particular task. So today, I will count *Jack, *Walker, and Silken.
Silken was first out and I’ve learned that she is sensitive, yet intelligent and she does have a lot of training behind her, which has given her exposure to different things. We approached pin-wheel alley and I let her look and then asked her through. She thought about it, and walked through, but kept her eyes on the twirling pin-wheels the whole time. You could see she was ready to move out if they decided to eat her, but since they did NOT, going through the second time was an easy task. She remained relaxed and happy to follow my lead. I admit I had expected more worry out of her, but I’m glad all was okay with those pin-wheels. Now bobbing for apples was a loss on her. She sniffed the apples once, tried to bite, found they floated away and completely lost interest. So, we went for a walk around the drive and yard and then I put her away.
*Jack was next and like last time, I noticed that he was more up than in previous months. I believe I may have figured out why. He is now the lead horse in his paddock and he is rising 3. He has to be serious and aware; it is his job now! Gone is the carefree boy. So, to help him get his mind on me rather than potential monsters, we took a walk up by the house. He was particularly worried about the traffic going by, so we stood and watched it for a while, from a distance, until he relaxed. I will work on getting him closer and closer until he realizes it is safe as long as I’m there. Then we returned to pin-wheel alley. He brought his nose down to one of the twirling pin-wheels and touched it. I clicked and treated him, from that point on he had no trouble going through the alley! We walked through several times, from different directions, and he just walked through as if they were not there. Next up to the apple bob, and he reacted just like Silken had. Tried for a bite, couldn’t get one, and completely lost interest. Sigh.
Last was *Walker. As herd leader she is ultra aware of her surroundings, and can be quite the worry-wart. Again, I began with a walk up and down the drive and then over to pin-wheel alley. “WHOA!! You expect me to go near those things???” she seemed to say. I just stood while she decided if she would check them out or not. Because I stood relaxed, she felt they must be okay, even if they warranted keeping her eyes on them. When she seemed relaxed enough I asked her though. Have you ever seen a horse teleport? One moment she was at one end, and the next she was on the other side. Obviously we needed to try this again. Next time through I asked her to ‘step-up’ rather than walk all the way. We stood and dwelt; then another ‘step-up’, and dwell time. It only takes about three steps to get through my little alley, so once we were out I turned her and asked her through again, and this time it was as easy as pie. So off we went bobbing for apples! Now *Walker loved this!! She would not stop going after them even though they kept scooting away from her mouth. She shoved her face into the water, completely covering her nostrils, blowing bubbles the whole time, and still kept going after them. Within one minute she had one and happily crunched it up. But wait! There was another apple to be eaten, and off she dove again, searching until she got that one too.
I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures from today, but it sure was fun.