Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Encouraging progress!

Snickers did really well today with the bridle!  I guess the trainer worked with him and he did well yesterday.  Today I just took him out, put him on the cross ties in the barn, curry combed and brushed him a bit, then worked with the bridle.  We started with just accepting the bit and lowering his head.  Then we moved on to messing with his closer (right) ear and lowering his head.  Finally, we ended with messing with his far ear and lowering his head.  I did get the bridle on all the way once about halfway through, though he was pulling away, but I decided that wasn't my goal today.  Taking it slow is most important to me to make sure he really learns it this time and we don't have to fight it just to get it on.  Rather, I just focused on messing with him and having his head nice and low.  The funny thing is, now every time I reach my arm over his head to put the bridle on, his head drops to the ground!  So I have to squat to get the bit in his mouth, and his hears are about thigh high haha.  Oh well, a calm horse with his nose on the ground is much better than a stressed and worried horse with his nose 8 feet in the air!  We can work on a more 'proper' head height later, but honestly, I don't think I can complain much about a horse that really, really wants to drop his head as soon as I present the bridle!  (It was nice to show the owner and trainers there how well he was learning - they thought it was cool and were very encouraging the first night I started him clicker training, but I sure felt like an idiot when he really didn't seem like he understood it!) He still twitches his head on the first ear, but as long as I'm quick it's not a big deal and his head stays low.  As for the second ear, he still wants to lift his head but will drop it when I ask and I ended with the bridle sitting on his ear but not pulled all the way through.  Which I personally would think is pretty uncomfortable but he accepted it and held his head low so I gave him his jackpot of treats, told him good job, rubbed his neck, and returned him to his stall.

So, he's not perfect with the bridle, but he's only been worked with a few times and he's improved so much!  The most important thing, though, is that I know I can work with him and make really good progress.  So not only can I work him through this issue, but I should be able to work with him through ANY issue that comes up.  The nice thing about this whole experience is that I've really seen Snickers at his worst.  He's rough and hasn't really been worked, developed an issue and got over it (mostly), spooked quite a few times with me on him, and it's winter!  However, everything has been very positive with him and I'm fairly confident we'll be able to work through anything and everything and make a fantastic team.  I've never felt uncomfortable or nervous with him, and he seems to really like me!  It was funny - when I first got there, he was standing out in the mud and didn't seem to want to come to the stall to make it easy to get him, so I thought he was going to make me walk out in the mud to catch him!  However, I turned around to grab the halter (which was hung right across from his stall), and as soon as he saw me grab it, in he came!  He's such a sweetheart - and a handsome boy!  I can't wait to start putting some good miles on him!

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