Sunday, July 20, 2008

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back...

Three steps forward, two steps back seems to be the mantra for Sam and I. The bruises are almost completely gone, my nerves are getting more steady. On Thursday we hauled hay and while running in and out of the main barn, Sam apparently was upset with my purposeful walk and again turned her butt on me. This time I was ready. Her back arched, and the correction came swiftly. Stopped in her tracks with a seriously stunned look. She knew she had messed up, something was going to happen because I came back with a halter. "Oh no your not catching me!" She didn't have to say it, her message was very clear. However, so was mine. After a few moments the halter was on and Miss Sam went to horsey timeout. This allowed me to have access to the hallway of the barn, and didn't let her get away with acting ugly. My son and I finished unloading the hay and had lunch while Sam was in timeout. She had plenty of time to think about why she was standing there.

After lunch I took Sam to the round-pen. Now that I am moving more at normal speed it was time to revisit the keeping our feet on the ground lessons. This time, I didn't play nice. I didn't give her the benefit of the doubt, I didn't give her space, and I didn't take it easy on her. I'll admit I have been soft. I have felt sorry for Sam, I have felt like I needed to handle her with Kidd gloves, but she took off the gloves and so must I.

We worked on my space in her space. We worked on hide the hinney x10. We worked on yielding her shoulder and backing up. We worked on hide the hinney again. This time she said enough, NO MORE! Then it came the arch in the back, the hiked up foot and the fight was on. I am not a fan of harsh handling of horses, but there is a time and a place for everything. I had come armed with a lunge whip, and a training stick. In a situation like this the training stick wasn't going to do me any good, so the whip which was laying at my feet flew into action. Every time she made the circle and kicked, I popped her on the butt. She started diving at me I threw up blocks and popped her front legs. She finally stopped, nostrils flared, sides heaving and stared at me, clearly angry that I had not retreated YET. I by this point, was more than just a little worked up, but once she stopped and looked at me I knew we had reached the point where she knew I wasn't backing down, and we went back to work.

For the rest of our session, all I had to do was look at her butt and she would move it away and face me. She would pivot 360 degrees if I ask her too. The shoulder yield was allot slower coming but it did come, and we managed to get one circle on request with a stop. That was my stopping point. We made progress.

I don't care how many steps it takes backward as long as we keep getting at least one forward. She is coming around, and I don't think the fear that drives her will stay long. The fear of the unknown is more prevailing. She has never had anyone to count on, no one to believe in or trust to keep her safe. She has made her own way, and from the looks of it has managed as well as can be expected. She will learn to let me carry her fear of the unknown, and then she can learn to deal with the fear of the things she has lived through. I know she can, and she will. I just have to keep reminding myself, "if it is worth having, it is worth waiting for, and it is worth working for".

She is.

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