Oh, almost forgot to mention something that really made me smile today.
After I turned Loki out I went and brought Eddie horse up for some loving on and a quick bareback ride in the arena. When we were coming up the long side nearest the mare pen, Loki came over to the fence and nickered. Not sure if it was at me or at Eddie, but either way it made me smile!
Decided today we would just take it easy and mostly continue on with the same things from yesterday. Loki was amazingly easy to catch and halter today, didn't even have to do the nose/rope trick from yesterday. Just walked up to her, scritched her neck, and put the halter on. Happy to see her at one of the hay stations when I went into the mare pen. She led nicely to the yard and I went about grooming her, including snipping a few of the worst snarls out of her mane. I think she may have been laying down at some point since I left her yesterday, as her left side was lightly sprinkled with bits of hay and dried muck. Glad to see she's settled down enough in her new herd already to feel safe enough to lay down.
We went for another walk in the arena, did the 'wave the arms and look like a lunatic while standing on the mounting block' again today. Only difference is I went to the top step instead of the lower one. Loki did give me a bit of the 'you are crazy human!' look and backed a step up once at first, but she was pretty good about the crazy human with flying noodle arms, lol.
Her manners in leading are definitely improving. Most times I can have a slack lead and she will keep her nose at my shoulder. Backing up is improving, I can put my hand flat on her chest, say back, and just give light pressure on the lead/on her chest and she will step back. She does tend to crowd my space a little, but we will work on that.
One thing we did do new today was a very light bit of sacking out with a saddle pad. Brought her in the round pen (some spots are ice free and safe to work on) and let her smell the saddle pad and rubbed it on her nose and neck. She didn't mind at all. I was able to rub right behind her ears and up her cheek near her eye without her giving me her 'ok, had enough, i'm too leery' face. She was ok with me laying the saddle pad across the top of her neck, and wiggle it around closer to her back when I was on her right, but when on her left, if the pad was near her shoulder or wither she would get wary and start moving about a bit.
Let her chill out in the round pen for a little bit while I brought Eddie horse up for a grooming and a bareback walk - just a few laps around the arena today due to timeline. Loki showed quite an interest in us over the fence separating round pen and arena.
After Eddie was put away I brought Loki out of the round pen and we worked on her picking up those front feet again. What a monkey about the left foot today! She was quite stubborn about that one, wouldn't stand still with it held until we'd had a few 'dance steps' on her behalf. This horse would be super easy to teach to bow right about now, lol. Finally stood still and let me hold it for a count of three. I called that a success and went to the right. Much less stubbornness, and we had that foot up with very little disagreement for a count of six. Good girl Loki.
Tomorrow she gets a day off, as Tuesdays are a busy homework night for my kiddo and I can't be running away to my 4 legged kids when the two legger needs me, lol.
Yesterday I was able to get out to the barn for just a little bit in the evening, so the waning daylight was my clock unfortunately.
Loki was really good about being haltered. There was a new mare put in the pen just moments before I went to catch her, so all the other grumpy mares were milling about more than usual. Loki was a little apprehensive to go past a couple of the mares on the way to the gate, but we did it with some sweet talking and a lot of shooing away of the other mares. Grumpy old hags I tell ya, lol.
Brought Loki up to the yard and just spent some time patting her all over. Something had her on edge a bit, so I wasn't going to push her too much. I did attach a towel to the end of my dressage whip though, and we worked on batting it and flipping it all over her. Other than her bum, she didn't care much about what I was doing, and every time the towel left her body she went looking for it with her nose nice and calm. Next time i'll do some sacking out with the towel to start, then we'll move to a plastic bag and a saddle blanket. I want to get her to the point where I can flop a blanket on her anywhere and have it fall off her without any spooking or moving her feet before I introduce the saddle.
Afterward, we worked on those front feet being picked up again. Once again, she was great with the right, let me lift it and hold it just about as long as I wanted to. Calm and not minding one bit. The left is still another story. She just doesn't seem to understand that the left is ok to be picked up, just like the right. We'll work on it, and I know she'll come around.
She's getting so much better with yielding to pressure in the halter. Whichever way I tip her nose and have minimal pressure on her lead, she'll move that direction. She'll flex her neck and touch her muzzle to her side if I ask her, without moving her body or feet. She'll move her shoulder or her hip over nicely, depending on where i'm putting pressure on her body. She'll back with the lightest touch on the lead now.
My thought on her first bit, although that is a little ways in the future yet, is a mullen mouth 'happy mouth' eggbutt. For those that have started their horses in a mullen mouth, what pros and cons can you give me? I also have the option of starting her in a single jointed snaffle, but thought the happy mouth bit would be a little more gentle of an introduction to something shoved in her mouth.
Well, i've been out to the barn a few times since I last updated this log and have some small progresses to share :)
Loki now will pick up all four feet! We are still a bit 'unsure' on that left front, but she isn't attempting to bow at all now when I hold it up. Yesterday we got both front feet cleaned out without any trouble at all. Good girl Loki! She is grossly overdue for a trim, so the sooner I get her comfortable with all four feet the better. It is a bit difficult with a horse that is not yet tie trained, and me working by myself, but we are making better progress than I thought, what with limited barn time and most of our work being on weekends up til now (daylight savings time, yay! More evening barn time!).
We've been taking walks in the arena, i've been doing all sorts of strange things! (well, at least Loki thinks so, lol). I have a couple milk crates out there, so I set them up in random places in the arena, walk Loki up next to them and then I step up so i'm taller and more above her than beside her. We worked on standing calmly while I lean on her back a bit. This is training ahead of time for her to stand still at a mounting block in my mind. At the same time, we are getting well used to the arena so it isn't a new place once the snow and ice is all gone and we can get down to some real work in there.
Catching and haltering haven't been an issue at all - yesterday Loki was laying down when I went to catch her and she let me stand beside her for a moment before deciding to get up. I'm happy she is comfortable in with the other mares to nap near them now, even within half a dozen feet of one mare that was quite nasty towards her in the beginning. From what i've seen horses always seem to sort themselves out pretty good and quick as far as pecking order. Loki has one small old bite on her hip. Just by watching her with the others, she seems to be about middle of the herd now, which is good.
We are now 'sending' through gates without issue, and I always ask for the horse to turn their hip away from me as soon as they are through the gate. Loki is catching on to this quite well, I will say 'turn' coupled with just a bit of lead pressure and she'll start moving her bum away. Good girl Loki!
My kiddo has come out to the barn with me a time or two lately, just for a quick hello in the evenings to check on Loki and Eddie when the weather was quite cold last week. Loki absolutely adores my daughter - hanging her head over the fence for cheek rubs and affection from her :)
Yesterday was supposed to be a sacking out day and potentially an introduction to saddle day, but shortly after I got Loki out of pasture, the wind picked up and it got downright gross out, so I thought it would be better to have flapping blanket monsters happen on a bit more calm day for safety and a better training session. I know it sounds like i'm letting the weather give me excuses to not do certain training aspects, but with the ground still pretty icy all over, I don't want to risk injury to either myself or Loki. Once all this darn snow is gone I will use the wind to my advantage to desensitize her to all sorts of stuff!
Another thing we started on yesterday was her tie training. Stood her in front of a stout fence post in one of the few small ice free areas in the yard and wrapped the lead around once and just stood there and let her figure out that tension in the lead means move forward a bit and that tension disappears. She caught on pretty quick. Even with pine tree branches waving frantically in the wind right in front of her on the other side of the fence.
Today is supposed to be nice out, with not much wind from what I can see. Glad I booked the day off work! And I realized I haven't been enough of a photo-bug, lol, so I will get some more Loki shots for y'all today. Been so busy getting to know this sweet lil mare that I haven't thought to whip my phone out. The round pen may be melted enough by the time I go barning later that we might be able to go work in there too. Ah, the joys of an all outdoor facility in the wee days of springtime! Lol.
Today was just so awesome I could smile all week even if I didn't get out to the barn again til friday :)
Loki wore a yellow milk crate on her bum! Yeah, i'm silly like that, lol. But I figure if we are bumming around in the arena and all I have at hand at the moment for some impromptu sacking out is a milk crate, then by golly, we are using it.
Rubbed it all over her neck, her back, her chest, her sides, her hip, her bum. Placed it over her back and held it there and she just looked at me like 'yeah, you're silly, but you give me carrots, so i'll put up with you'. After setting it on her back I figured her bum was a bit more level, lol, so there it went. Mind you, I was always holding the crate steady and didn't let it fall, so Loki had nothing to worry about there.
After 'wearing' the milk crate a few times, we played kick the crate. I led Loki all over the arena (including through the 'lake' at the far end courtesy of oodles of melting snow the past few days) and booted that crate as hard as I could ahead of us. She didn't even look at it funny, just kept ambling beside me.
This coming weekend is Loki's first saddling. Her owner will be able to come watch, so i've held it off til then. I figure if we can do all what we did today with the crate, she'll be just fine with a saddle on. I've been running a lead rope around her belly to prepare her for girthing too.
Tonight I am just beaming i'm so proud of Loki! She had her first saddling this evening. And you'd think she'd done it a hundred times before, lol. Even with limited barn time lately, and not a whole lot of sacking out opportunities, she did so amazingly well that you wouldn't think she was pretty much untouched prior to october last year. Last weekend's milk crate 'experiment' told me Loki was pretty much ready to learn all about being tacked up. If you can sack out a horse with a bright yellow plastic milk crate and they don't care, then a saddle is nothing, eh? Lol.
I did some flapping of the saddle pad, up on her neck, over her back, covered her head and eyes, etc. then I pretty much just put the saddle on her back. That was it. She wasn't fazed in the slightest. Let her walk a few steps and you could tell she knew it was on her back but she didn't mind. Attached the girth and did it up a bit at a time on both sides until it was just snug enough to keep the saddle from slipping and then Loki's owner walked her around the yard a bit. This mare was more concerned with whether the human at the other end of the lead rope had treats or not, lol. No humping of the back even the slightest, no real concern that something was now attached to/around her.
Please don't mind the state of Loki's feet. I am still working on her picking them up nicely in a consistent way so she will be well behaved for the farrier when he comes next, which should be soon.
I am so happy with my 'little' Loki tonight! Very glad I booked monday off work for a three day weekend. If you need me, i'll be at the barn............... hahaha!
Today was a sacking out day. Loki doesn't care if the big western blanket is completely covering her head. She doesn't care if it is over her bum and i'm flapping it all over. She doesn't care if it is being whipped (gently!) off and on her body. Lol. She was really good today!
Was going to start her round penning, but the round pen is pretty soupy today. Barn manager cut a culvert in the last bit of remaining snow/ice on the edge so all the pooled water could drain out better. Hopefully by tomorrow it will be a little bit less liquid and more dirt!
After our sacking out session, we played with having something in Loki's mouth to start her on the process of wearing a bit and bridle. I don't think she cared for the taste of the end of the lead rope much.......... lol. But she was pretty good about it. I figure if she puts up with my shenanigans then she'll be a great horse for anybody :)