Last night I did not get any pictures because we were working. I found a couple of panic buttons on him and we focused on that until we worked thru it.
This is what I do know about Boomer and his stress....when he starts to stress, his nostrils flare and he breathes fast and heavy. I call it his pregnant lady breathing. When it was so hot and we were working it was hard for me to tell the difference. His eyes change too....it is almost like they shut off. At times he looks bored, and at other times he is stressed. I am trying to figure out the difference - because there seems to be one.
The night before I saddled him up and he got nervous about something - I forget what now. Oh yeah, I remember. I looped the lariat rope on the saddle horn and was going to bring it around him and do some rope work. I had the coil and was going to flip it between his legs and get it from the other side - like we have done before. For some reason this was different....he was not happy, he was majorly stressed, and this made everything else a bigger deal than what it was. This is finally what we needed so we could work thru it! He was not thinking at all - he was in scared panic mode.
Then came major freak out #2 - I moved him around and was touching him with the pink stick while he was moving, and when I touched him on the front of the girth line right behind his elbow, he took off! Yee haw! It was not so much a buck as it was a few little crow hops and running to escape. It startled me because it was so quick, and we have touched there hundreds of time but this time bothered him. I see it as no different than people - just because I don't see what the big deal is doesn't mean it is not a big deal. It is to him, and we needed to figure it out to help him thru it more calmly.
Same thing with the lariat rope.....have had it on and around him, he has dragged it (he still doesn't like it following him) and he has had it looped around front and rear legs without too much drama. This evening when he was going around in circles (isn't that a song?) trying to escape the scary touch in front of the girth, I looped the rope around his butt and tugged. That butt tucked under him and he kicked a few times at it.....at this point I knew I could not let go of the rope as much as I wanted to. He HAD to work thru the fear he was feeling. As he ran I kept tugging and also touching the girth line as much as I could. This went on for quite a while and he finally stopped. In my opinion it looked like he shut down his mind.....so I started walking him, getting his attention back on me, worked on backing, etc. Anything that I could think of that was easy for him to do and to succeed at. Then we went back to scary touch with stick and rope flipping and tugging.
I am happy to say that by the end of the evening he was giving me the jumpy startled movements when I would touch him, but he kept those feet planted and watched the stick and rope. At this point it was hard to quit....he was doing good and I wanted to keep going to prove to him it was not a big deal. In reality - it was already proven so after a few times of him thinking, I was done with that lesson.
Oh yeah, lots and lots of flexing too.....I thought I was doing enough but wasn't. It is amazing how much better he flexes, and when he gets to moving when I don't ask, I flex him to a stop. My friend Jay who is also an EMM trainer for Lincoln, NE this year has helped me with that and other things. We have talked and e-mailed, and let me tell you what, it is almost like talking to Clinton Anderson! Which is funny because I was telling Brian I needed Clinton's black and white philosophy and I needed it in person. I did not get it in person (yet) but I did get it over the phone and computer - and it was exactly what I needed on many different levels. Thank you so much Jay! :-) I can't wait until we meet up to ride before the EMM.
Now.....on to the 2nd night after the newly found scary things....
When the sun first started coming up, there was a thin line between the cloudline and the horizon...and that line was blood red. It was beautiful! Later the sun crept up and the gap between the the clouds and horizon grew....I love mornings.
I can kick and throw the balls at him and under him, and this is the response you get. The only time he has reacted to them other than to jump in place or snort, was when he was pawing one of the smaller deflated ones and it rolled weird when his foot sunk into it....then he jumped back farther. Other than that - balls not bad.
Jay mentioned feed sacks, so I am starting to come up with ideas for feed sacks. Oh! I have to share this! This was the first evening I brought out a feed sack to show him. He sniffed it, tried to walk away, but I called him back towards me and he followed a bit. Then I started throwing it around, as in way up in the air and it came sailing down.....nothing. He looked at it, sniffed it, then looked at me like he was bored. See why I am so confused by him? This boy is keeping me on my toes!
I folded them like a fan and put them in each stirrup. Now this was a good scary thing! When he moved I could tell he wanted to take off......but he kept facing me while moving he feet. I just need to be very careful that he doesn't run me over when he is coming to me to save the day.
Doesn't he look so impressed?
Throwing the sacks around, and letting them just sit flat on him until they fall off....
No big deal when it falls off......
This is the place I touched that freaked him out so bad the night before. Wow! Now he acts like it tickles so I rub with conviction until I know he is relaxed, then move on to the rest of him. I always check my girth on both sides when I cinch up - and I cinch up slowly. When I was checking this side the night before he was touchy....almost ticklish. I can't find a wound and he doesn't act like he is sore....could have been his nerves or just something uncomfortable that I could not see.
He doesn't like things following him....so I wrapped the lariat rope around him last night and had him drag the tarp. At first he was not sure about it moving when he did, which is almost humorous watching his facial expressions. He even walked up to it and nosed it around, almost like he was making sure it was dead. This is how relaxed he got ....... I will be rigging up something a little user friendly. Altho I will say that I am holding the rope coils, and at times I would flip the tarp up while it was following him, so he was getting some extra stuff thrown in.
I asked him to back up while dragging the tarp. This was more scary, but he did it.
Asking him to back up while he is beside me.
It occurred to me I have not had the tarp over his rump in a long time....only straddled.
Brian asked if he should bring in another stress factor.....so here is Brian brushing on Tripp. They are in the attached pen next to ours but had to walk thru ours to get to this. Boom was not happy!
Brian cleaning out hooves....it is the season for the green fuzzball plants, so manes and bangs are getting full of them. Will have to make a night to go pick the darn things like we did the cockle-burr plants. Now there are very few of them thanks to Brian's diligence at getting rid of them. He has turned me into a cockle-burr nazi too....we can spot them a mile away! Okay, slight exaggeration...but you get the picture. :-)
Brian was on a time schedule so we did not saddle up Tripp - he just worked him so it was an additional distraction. When Brian led Tripp thru the pen Boom did not move...just watched with interest. This is progress!
I threw around the stirrups with the folded feed sacks in them. Going backwards was fine - coming up on the shoulder was more stressful. So we did it a lot. :-)
Madison collected eggs when her and Brian got home....and she never mentioned the spider in the doorway. I did not bring it up- no need to bring the scary spider to her attention if she did not know it as there, right? So when she left I was looking for the spider and could not figure out where she went.
Then I found her....she had moved! I was watching horse flies go thru her web that was in need of repair, and every time they would hit it she was after them! But they did not get stuck long enough for her to take care of business. I swatted a couple of flies and was trying to get them in her web. About that time Brian got home and helped me put them in there - and the spider moved away. She is on the bottom right, and there are two flies in the upper middle/left side of the picture. I will know this morning if she took advantage of the fresh kill.
I sat around waiting for the sun to go down ..... easier to put the chickens to bed that way. Batman kept me company. It is hard to believe he is 1 yr and 3 months old. He looks so mature.
Argh! Putting pictures in the blog can be a challenge sometimes. Now I can't get my cursor below Batman.....oh well.
It was a great night and Boom did fantastic. We will do all the 'scary' stuff again tonite in a different place to see how that goes.
I hear it is supposed to start getting hot again...that is okay, I am still very grateful for the break we had.
Have a wonderful day everyone!
Until later....Karen and Tripp who was a little embarrassed by the green fuzzy plant things in his bangs.