Truuue story Megan! I'm trying not to let her get away with anything that could turn into something worse eventually but it's hard to see what those things are exactly, sometimes! Haha
And thanks! :)
Maggie, that's also super true. Miss Lady is basically dying to learn as much as she can. Her mind is like a little sponge, wanting to see everything, and she's not real snotty about much.
Today, Lacey really needed a bath (she gets really itchy if she goes too long between baths) so I figured that today was probably as good a time as any to walk them both down to my house and get Lady a little out of the pasture exposure, especially given that Lady is leading really well inside the pasture.
First, I groomed them both all up and used my long lunge whip to touch Lady all over. I'm still not totally confident that she really cares as little about being touched all over as she acts like she does (something about the look on her face/her energy, I dunno, switches..). Anyway, I figure that even if she is totally fine, there's really no harm in working with her more on it.
I managed to touch her all over and even got the lunge whip under her tail (not all the way to the dock yet but about 6 inches away) without much incident. I did find out that right before she kicks, she swishes her tail - that could be a helpful tell (she did not like the lunge whip between her back legs, even low down...but now she's ok with it. Hahaha) to remember.
Anyway, she stood tied for quite a while while I brushed Lacey out and she did really well with that. She seemed much more relaxed about being tied than she has before. She actually stood there instead of constantly moving around. I also practiced with her about picking her front feet up. She's still pretty uncomfortable with that but at least today she didn't pull them out of my hands at all.
And here, I have to mention that Lacey is being an absolute gem. She's being very responsive to me. Today I even needed her to walk off so I could discombobulate Lady (while I was leading both of them) so I just dropped her lead rope, poked her in the direction I wanted her to go and clucked. She walked about 10ft away, then stopped and turned towards us, just waiting for us to be ready.
And, no matter how bratty Lady is to her (Lady is kinda trying to take advantage of her dominant over Lacey status), if I'm working with Lacey, her mind is with me. Today while I was leading them together, Lady thought about kicking Lacey but instead of acting out, Lacey just stopped walking and let me correct Lady for her (Lady also isn't allowed to start/participate in tiffs while she's being worked with, no matter the circumstances, but Lady obviously doesn't understand that rule quite yet, haha!). I'm so glad I have my Lacey girl to help me "manage" this Lady horse. If I had two unreliable horses...I'd probably go nuts.
Anyway, so after they were both all groomed, we walked down to my house. Lady was overall really great about walking through the neighborhood. She was scared of the manhole covers in the road but over the next couple of months I think they'll probably cease to be scary. She listened pretty well to my direction too. Not great, but fantastic for a horse that only learned what "stop" meant 2 days ago!
We get down to my house, Lacey's in her spot "tied" to the RV (I loop her lead rope to the ladder), and I tied Lady to a tree that's in the middle of the driveway so she can watch Lacey not react to getting a bath (lol). I'm pleased to say that Lady did great. She was a little antsy about being tied but I'd be antsy too if I were a horse tied to some weird thing and in a place I had never seen before, she stood there though so I really can't complain.
After I gave Lacey her bath, Lady seemed interested enough that I untied her and brought the hose over to her so she could look at the water. Interestingly, she dunked her face straight in it and started playing around with her lips and the water. Silly pony! I ended up hosing her front end off a little just to see what she did. And while it wasn't her favorite, she wasn't overly scared - just "why is this happening?".
After that we walked back "home" which went even less eventfully than walking to my house. We also ended up stopping at one of my neighbor's houses because they wanted to know all about where this "other" horse had come from. Both girls were a little antsy to get home at that point but they handled themselves well so I'm not complaining.
We got home and I tied them both up again to braid Lacey's mane and brush out her tail. I did both of those things then decided to brush and braid Lady's mane too because her mane is really thick and I feel bad for her poor overly hot neck under there. She did really really well with that. I was expecting more "Gosh darn it! I wanna be DONE!!" from her but she just put her head down and was very patient (I think she was tired after everything she had seen and experienced).
Then I fed them both and let them go. Lady's a bit of a brat about her food (rushes for it, etc) so I have to be a bit tough on her at feeding time. I'm hoping though that she'll catch on soon and start being a bit more respectful on her own volition.
Lady really doesn't have any concept of "punishment" which I'm not really sure how to deal with. A slap means nothing, "ah-ah" means nothing, a pop with the crop means nothing...the lunge whip initially got a reaction but now it's not concerning either... Huh. Well, she's very aware of some kinds of pressure and release (like if she steps into my bubble, instead of waving the end of the lead rope at her like I'd do with another horse, poking her repeatedly in the chest until she backs up is more effective). It's all very strange to me. WHAT happened to that horse? Lol
And then, I took a picture of her with her cute braids. This is her "Really??" face.
Thanks Maggie! I think she likes them too, she's been pretty insistent that she needs to shake her head all over the place with them (I think she likes seeing people scatter as they're whipped... haha!). Really though, her neck was much cooler today and she seemed overall less put out by the heat (it's been extremely muggy the last few days so everything feels hotter than it really is).
Day 4 -
Today she got a "break". Lacey had a lesson, it was gross out, and she's been learning hard. I figured she deserved a little respite.
Anyway, all we did today was: my lesson kid led her down to the shed while I led Lacey (I feel like it's important that Lady knows that proper leading etiquette is for all people, not just the "big" ones that can force her), she actually did really really well. Yay her!! Then she stood tied during Lacey's lesson (1hr) which she did pretty well with. A little fussy after the 45 minute mark but that was a long time for her to be patient. Then I brushed her while my lesson kid brushed out Lacey, worked on picking her feet up (she's doing great with her fronts, haven't gotten brave enough to try her backs yet), and she had to wait extra patiently for her food when it was time for that. She's catching on but I think it'll be even clearer for her once I have a separate stall area to feed her in. Right now, Lacey's fed in a blocked off stall and I hold Lady on a lead rope so she won't go fuss at Lacey for Lacey's food. Hopefully tomorrow/Monday I'll be setting up a stall situation so the whole feeding thing will be simpler.
I think I'm going to start teaching Lady about ponying tomorrow. I need to teach her how to lunge as well but I'm not sure which to do first... Or if I can do both at the same time. I imagine if I can keep her to a walk, both would be ok but if she decides to trot around about lunging, that might be something I should wait on until she's put on a few more pounds.... I think I'll just start with ponying and save lunging.
She is putting on dramatic amounts of weight though which is great! It's only been a week and I can already see improvement. She's still way skinnier than I like but she's coming a long. I'd say that in 3 weeks she'll probably be looking more like a normal horse.
I wish I could get weight on her even faster but then again, faster is not always better and she is gaining well...I just hate skinny horses!
A word of advice, I've been kicking myself for not filming the sessions with Sky as he was learning. I recommend getting a few of those so you can see the progress and also see what you're doing as well.
Aw thanks Maggie! I'm trying! And she really is fun to work with, a goober, but a fun goober.
You know that feeling you get when you can tell someone/something isn't being entirely real with you/themselves? That's kind of the feeling I get from her. She's so tightly contained that I feel like one day she's just going to go "bizacko" (favorite word ever for "crazy") and I'm just hoping the real her will be nice. I think she's truly a sweetie, just on the defensive right now since she's been tossed around so much, but we'll see!
And GREAT idea about filming. I always wish I had gotten some film of back when Lacey was nuts (see, it's hardly believable anymore = why I need video to prove it. Hahaha!) so great idea! Hopefully on Monday it'll be nice and I'll get a video of her first ponying session.
Day 5 -
Today we had a bit of a backwards step/eventual breakthrough.
It was way too wet to try ponying like I had planned so I decided to try to start teaching her to lunge. Well, she basically laughed in my face.
She kept trying to jump into my lap (no concept of personal boundaries) and I was feeling more and more frustrated. We ended up playing the game I like to call "One Step Forward, 5 Steps Back". It's where Lady get's into my personal bubble, I back her up 5 steps, then she takes a step forward - testing my resolve, I make her back up 6 steps, etc, etc until Lady stays where I place her. She actually did pretty well with that today. Not great but with how lap-jump-y she had been being, I consider only getting to 7 steps back a success. She seems to think that when I face her, I'm fair mauling game. When I stand next to her, she's fine staying out of my bubble. It's weird, she's weird, we'll figure it out, whatever.
She's turning out to be a bit tougher than I had anticipated but I think we'll get there. Just one day at a time.
Anyway, with that all in mind, it was suggested to me ;) to try free lunging Lady with Lacey since Lacey knows all the forward cues and would hopefully teach, through her behaviors, Lady the correct reactions to cues, aka no lap-jumping.
Lacey was absolutely thrilled by this. She had so much fun. Lady was unsure at first but really seemed to catch on by the end of the session. She seemed really kind of surprised and thrilled that I was allowing the two of them to run like that. She really liked it though!
I had a realization while watching them run as well, about Lady. Perhaps, since she's spent 100% of her 10 years of life in a postage stamp-sized suburban backyard with 3 other horses and who knows how many dogs+kids, mayyybe she's never really gotten to seriously move forward... Maybe she doesn't move herself forward in response to requests for forward because there wasn't ever any room for forward!
Huh, what a thought.
Anyway, later when I led Lady, with Lacey following, through the gate to the upper field (she's figured out that it's absolutely hilarious to, when I start "herding" them up the hill, start trotting circles around the shed - such a jokester+BRAT!) I, without thinking about it, opened the upper gate, held on to near Lady's halter and swung the lead rope at her butt. GUESS WHAT SHE DID!? If you guessed that she moved herself forward, without panicking, and turned around to face me once she got to the end of the space I had given her to turn in, you guessed RIGHT! That's the gentlest I've been able to be and still get a reaction, in the 5 days I've had her!
This is a really good sign.
My fingers are crossed that maybe with a few more free lunging sessions, things will get even better! I also really can't complain when both my mares really love doing something - free lunging - that also happens to be great for them and fun for me. Cannot complain at all!
I kinda decided that after the very successful free lunging sesh, maybe the thing to do for now is to forget about Lady 1 on 1 (beyond the basic grooming/picking up feet/etc) and focus on teaching her stuff via Lacey's knowledge. At least with the free lunging, there's been crossover (she yielded her hip to me AGAIN today after I swung the lead rope at it twice!! Longer term results YEAH!) so maybe that's the way to go for now.
Anyway, on that note, my lesson cancelled for this afternoon so I had a not raining afternoon free for horses = PONYING!
So Lady got her first intro to ponying today and I gots a video for you.
Lacey was extremely helpful, again.
Sorry for the length, but I wanted to fit the whole session in and this was what was left after editing out all the parts (13 minute session) where we went off camera. I thought the camera was shifted more to the right than it actually was so bummer deal. However, I think most all of the "important" stuff is there.
I realized after getting on, and having Lacey be weird about Lady being on that side of her, that I had stuck Lady on Lacey's right side. From what I can surmise, Lacey is basically 95+% blind on that side (she's a lot spookier on that side and a lot more nervous about ANYTHING being over there) so it makes sense that she'd be uncomfortable with having a whole freaking horse on that side!
Anyway, so I switched Lady over to the left side (equaling a terrible dismount on my part after we got done, obviously I should work on that) and Lacey was much more relaxed.
Lady seemed very confused at first but by the end, she wasn't dragging me back nearly as hard as she had been - thank goodness! It still definitely needs work (I'm thinking 1-2 more in the pasture sessions, depending on how well Lady picks it up, then off to the trails with us) but she'll get there. She apparently really likes being on the inside of a turn but the outside? No siree!! So that'll get some definite practice.
I'd also like to call your attention to the spot at 7:12+, I was SO proud of Lacey for this. Lady was being kind of a real brat and she was basically trying to pull the "my legs have turned to cement = no hope for walking!!" thing. I asked Lacey to stop, and then, since Lady was right behind her, she couldn't back up to get me to Lady, so I asked her to yield her hindquarters. That's something I've always tried to work with her on but she's one of those "if it doesn't have a purpose, why on earth do I need to do it??!" mares so we never got far without her getting super frustrated with me, etc. Anyway, I asked for one there because that was the only thing I could think of that would solve our predicament, and SHE DID IT!! Good pony! I was so proud. My girl comes through when she has a job.
I like to have my ponyed horses head right there by my riding horses shoulder with about 2 foot of lead. It gives them less leverage to pull back and balk, plus they don't have as much lead to try and pull crap like reading or bucking. If they start acting up I just choke up on the rein, dally it (in western saddle haha) and move my riding horse off and they have to follow because their head is right there.
If I have a stubborn horse that doesnt want to move I just turn my horse into them making them move their shoulder or hip and lead straight off and usually they follow.
If you have a horse that is faster than your riding horse, lead em on the outside of your turn so they have more space to cover and a slower horse I have on the inside.
Thanks Christine! I would have loved to have her closer but she was just having none of it. I decided it was a "pick and choose my battles" sorta time. HOPEFULLY tomorrow (the next time I'm going to be able to work on ponying with them) she'll be more ok with being closer. If she's not, well, we'll work on making her comfortable with that.
Hah, I wish I could dally the rope! Darn Aussie saddle! Actually though, I think if I were to dally any rope on a saddle attached to Lacey, the saddle would slide over before anything else would happen (Lacey is basically like riding a barrel, it's ridiculous).
I will give turning into Lady to catch her up a try, I didn't even think of that but that's a great idea!
Thanks Maggie! I was proud of them both. I have two good girls on my hands, what to do! :P
That's my hope that as she gets more comfy, she'll stay closer to my leg. My fingers are crossed!
Day 7 -
Yay, Lady's been here for a week!
Anyway, I was bummed today that I didn't get a chance to really work with either of the mares. I had to start a housesitting job by noon and even though I got up at 7am, packing up my stuff, feeding myself+my cat, packing up my cat's stuff (he's having a "sleepover" at my brother's place, lol!), and feeding the girls took waaaayyyy longer than anticipated.
Anyway, what little work I did do with Lady today was very successful! She yeilded her hindquarters to me again twice AND I was able to shoo her away with just my hands and have her patiently stand on the other side of her "stall" while I set her grain out.
I was impressed and proud. I had been enforcing my respectful=food, pushiness=no food rule by putting her on a lead rope and forcing her to obey but that's not my favorite. I think it's more "powerful" when a horse obeys a rule under their own power and not because of coercion or anything.
Also, I saw Lacey kinda bully Lady today!! Since Lady was an orphan, I feel like she really needs to not be the boss horse, at least for right now while she's learning how real horses live. Lacey wasn't a jerk, but Lady was drinking water that Lacey wanted to Lacey just walked up, pinned her ears, and basically shoved Lady out of the way. Tooo funny. Lacey's basically like "You can think you're the boss whenever you want but I'm really just using you, thought you should know". Silly girls!
The other funny part is that the only things I've ever seen Lacey be dominant over are the llamas. Lady must not be very invested in her own power!
I think they're both really coming along. Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have been able to take Lady on a trail ride with Lacey and I. She's really filling in, it's time to turn that fat into muscle (on both girls really, but at least Lacey's fat is toned fat!).
Then a picture of them eating in their "stalls". Lacey is ridiculous. She'd rather visit than actually eat. She had eaten probably half of her food at that point but "needed" loves to continue. And you can tell, from how much Lacey's "electric tape" is stretched that that's not the first visiting break she's taken.