Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The "It Ain't Pretty" School of Training
Relax Parellis, I don't think y'all have anything to worry about but tonight I had a HUGE success with Lyra. For the two months I've had her she has majorly freaked out when tied to one of the tie posts in the barn where I board: pacing, spinning, pooping (oh, 3 to 9 piles), peeing. At first she was in constant motion. I've gotten lots of helpful suggestions and things sorta mellowed out to the point where she would stand still for part of the time. Sorta. But tonight I called upon the powers of predator woman and the fat as a python cotton lead rope a friend loaned me. Tonight we made progress but it wasn't pretty or elegant. Not subtle. Rather goofy actually.
Picture this. Lyra is tied to her post and starts to pace. Every horse is still antsy over the new gelding. First she swings her hindquarters to the left, then to the right. Her head is constantly oriented to the pasture. Dang. Thought we'd left this behind. Think, think, think. Hmmmmm.
I loop the BIG cotton rope (BCR) over my shoulder and as Lyra starts her next swinging sequence I start to hiss while pointing to where I want her to stand. She ignores me, I hiss louder, become huge, glare in her eye, and again ask her to move by pointing and shaking the BCR. She is looking at me now, but not moving. Hissing like a puff adder, I explode and thwop her with the BCR. She scoots into the exact position I have requested, drops her head, licks and chews. HA! Instantly I become small, coo "Gooooooood Lyra" and give her a carrot.
She stands quietly (goodie, goodie, goodie) for about 2 minutes and then resumes her swinging around pattern. I repeat the sequence all the way to the "THWOP" and again she scoots into position. More small Cherie, cooing, carrots. This sequence repeats close to TWENTY times. And then she stands, sighs, cocks her hip AND DOESN'T MOVE. Really doesn't move. I am standing a ways away, stunned, when a nice woman from another barn at the ranch comes in. She looks at me and says, "I heard this sound and wondered if someone was spraying paint in here"? (insert blush) "Oh no, just me hissing at my horse", I respond. She nods, smiles and says that it seems to have worked. She really is a nice person.
On with the evening . . . I saddle Lyra, she stands quietly. More folks arrive. My friend who loaned my the BCR brings in April, her amazing 27 year old Missouri Fox Trotter mare. Focused on the other horse, Lyra begins to swing her butt around. I become a teency predator woman with a quiet little "hiiiiiiiissssssssssss", almost a whisper, so I don't terrify April. Lyra moves back into position and stays there! Really. Her head is still facing to the general pasture. We are working on that - the command "look" is beginning to consistently call Lyra's attention back to me. Slowly, bit by bit, our relationship is growing. I am having successes in getting her attention and starting to build a foundation of acceptable behavior. Just sometimes it ain't too pretty of a picture as predator woman comes to my aid, glaring, hopping, and hissing until Lyra offers the requested behavior.