Sunday, June 20, 2010

all the small things

Baby cant walk before you crawl. Those very first few steps you take are wobbly and its only every 1 or 2 at a time. So it is with horses, especially when training wild horses. you have to take the very smallest steps and take them 1 at a time. If you ask to much you scare them and they lose that fragile trust. You go to slowly and they become disinterested, or just start to ignore you all together.

Luckily i seem to being going OK (at the moment). Yesterday morning i had a break through with the grey girl and today step by small step we continued making progress. The girl i catch everyday and tie her under a tree near the barn. Where she gets a hay net to eat all day, as well as watching the comings and goings of all the other horses.

usally each morning it takes a few minutes to get her relaxed enough with me, to catch her again. Although each day it's been taking a little bit less time. Baby steps. yesterday though i went into the paddock and was just doing some maintenance, fixing bits of fence and checking water troughs. The Grey just started following a few metres behind, around the paddock. This is the first time shes chosen to interact with me, usually i have to go to her. I had my back to her and just kept wandering around the paddock. She just following. until finally she was right behind me. I could feel her sniffing up and down the back of my jacket, just checking me out.

After a while when i could tell she was comfortable and wasn't checking me out anymore. i slowly turned around and there she was not a foot away, just watching me. From their it was easy to catch her ....

Baby steps, you have to let them get used to one thing at a time. First they have to get used to you at the end of the rope (8ft). That is the very first little step. Both of the horses were happy with that by the time i brought them home. then it is the next few trembling steps to teach them to move away, come towards you, back up and respond to pressure on the rope. Its never as easy as 'now you got a rope on it you can just mach right up to them'. But they are getting there. Funny thing is that once you can teach them how to move away from you, what your body language means, that is when they start wanting to come to you.

today another little baby step of progress. I'm getting that little bit closer. Grey has always been less interested in me, as well as a lot more cautious. although i can catch her until the last few days i still couldn't get to close, unless she came to me.

Today though i can rub her head and down her neck. But its tiny steps of progress that get you there. Every time i put my hand near her head she would move away and move away never really wanting to check it out or let it near her. so i just kept it near her. the moment she stopped moving away and accepted my hand near her, i dropped my hand. I repeated this process until she wouldn't move away. This way she learned it was no big deal, the hand near her didn't cause any harm, and as soon as she accepted it the hand left. Same process until i could touch her face. then neck. it is these time baby steps that you have to take that will turn her into a good happy horse. From the tiny step of letting my hand near she became comfortable enough to let me actually touch her neck and face.

Baby steps are the key, i never would have gotten to touch the grey at all. If id just walked straight up and tried to touch her, she would probably think i was a predator trying to kill her. It is those tiny baby steps that send you on the way to cant walk before you can crawl.