Kindergarten and Lightness

There is something shocking going from horses with immaculate (until someone is watching…) ground manners to this:

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Obviously he’s adorable, but he knows nothing. It isn’t his fault, he’s three weeks old now, and outside of making friends with him, I didn’t ask him for much of anything until this week. I haltered him during week one, but the halter swallowed his tiny noggin. A brought a smaller purple one to the farm, so I’ve been using it on Joey since Monday/Tuesday.

Monday was kind of a bust as far as halter training was concerned. I put the halter on him, then we worked on pressure. He very obviously didn’t understand the question, and honestly, having never halter trained anything, I was skeptical that I was asking the question correctly, so I took the tiny results he offered and called it quits until I could get A out to refresh my memory on the topic.

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A and I have been taking a large animal vet assisting class at the community college in town, so she made a point to meet me at the farm before class on Tuesday. Class actually ended up getting cancelled, so naturally we hung out at the barn longer than we anticipated. During this time we haltered Joey and when I would apply pressure from the lead rope and cluck to him, she would encourage him from behind. This strategy paid off and, while he stopped often of his own accord, once I clucked, he was eventually willing to walk off with me without butt pressure from A. We worked on handling and picking up his feet as well, then we gave him a break and did other things around the barn while he laid down to nap.

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Paige breaks into the grain barrel however she can when loose in the barn. She froze like this when we were working with Joey and I walked over to chase her out. 

After he woke up from his nap it was like he had absorbed the info and led better than he had prior to napping. He has led progressively better on both Wednesday and Thursday when I’ve gone up after work to handle him. He’s also gotten much more confident about having his feet picked up. I plan to introduce the hoof pick to the equation tonight or this weekend to work further on that so he’ll be more likely to be ready for his first farrier appointment when he’s out next. 🙂

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Working on kindergarten stuff out in the pasture. 

Everyone on FB has been giving me a hard time about the purple halter, but I hate to break it to them that after he graduates out of baby halters, he’ll be in a purple rope halter for a while…plus I really think this saddle blanket would look great on him in a few years. I’m not shopping for him…it just casually showed up on my instagram…thanks a lot Smartpak…

The most interesting (and rewarding) thing so far for me has been the moments of lightness that he gives me on the lead rope already. I take for granted the loop in my lead rope that demonstrates their willingness to walk with me when I lead any of my adult horses anywhere. While Joey still has moments when he doesn’t want to walk with me (away from Paige mainly), there are far more numerous moments where he walks with me with that loop in the rope like my aged horses…and he’s only been doing this for three days.

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Already leading better than auntie Emma.

I never want to assert more pressure on him than he needs, so being able to ask him quietly for something, then progressively move to a higher pressure if he doesn’t respond has been our strategy. He seems to be a sensitive and intuitive little guy. Last week he kicked at me and I popped his butt with the end of the lead rope. He stayed away from me for two days after that, then I left for four days in DC, and came back to the same curious baby, who, I might add, hasn’t attempted to kick at me again (yet).

I’ve also noticed something about Joey that apparently I missed up until the other day…his eyes are blue. Dark blue actually. I’ve struggled to get a good picture of them, but in good light, they’re definitely not brown. I’m generally not a fan of blue eyed horses, but if they stay this pretty dark color, wow. I’m struggling to find another horse via google with the same dark eye color, so I think maybe they’ll change colors to brown or lighter as he ages? No idea…this is the best picture I have that shows it so far…and it’s not all that good. 😉

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