I went to the barn today after work and was pleasantly surprised that it really didn't take me any longer to get there then where we were at before. This makes me VERY happy!
So.. I went with the intentions of just checking feet. I decided to go with the barns farrier when they trimmed last Friday. I had checked all the other horses feet a week before and all though they were all in need of trims no one was chipped, cracked or overly long in the toes. Good signs in my opinion.
Good news.. Feet were perfect! Even Rosie's dinner plate size hooves where round with enough heel and not too much toe. No flares on the sides and balanced! Even BETTER news - this farrier is WAY cheaper then the one I've been using for years.
Now the "work" side of the post. It's been a while since either horse has been handled wait.. Its more like ground rules enforced. Example - Bonnie not backing off a trailer. Rosie not stepping away from pressure... etc. This due partly to weather, and partly my desire to ride.. ride and ride.
So tonight was a grooming, standing, head dropping, etc night for both girls.
The picture shows Bonnie in cross ties. This is because she's become antsy cross tied. She ground ties perfectly will not move if I tell her not to and that's what I do 95 % of the time, so we cross tied while I groomed slowly.
After a nice grooming I asked her to back up. My cue is to stand facing her, but not directly in front of her face, and tap my fingers against front of shoulder while walking into her. Stubborn mare tossed her head and stepped INTO me! Immediate correction by disengaging hind end and moving her sideways in the isle - both ways. Asked for the back again and she shifted weight back but feet would not move, but still, she got the idea. Pat on the neck, and asked again, this time a foot moved. Rinse - Repeat and eventually I got steady backing from my cue!
I finished with Bonnie's head in my arms. One day I'll have someone get a picture of this, but I'll try to explain. I stand at her shoulder facing forward, I actually put my weight against her like leaning on a wall. I then put my inside arm over her neck, my outside arm over her nose and around the side of her head where the halter buckle is (but I don't hold onto halter), and pull her head into me until she just relaxes with her nose in my chest. I do this on both sides. I can not tell you how many times being able to do this with her has allowed us to give her medication or some other not so nice activity.
Rosie on the other hand cross ties good, but does not ground tie very well. So tonight all of our grooming was done out of the cross ties and with lead line over her back so I could grab it at any time. She fidgeted for a few minutes but I'd catch her just as she'd pick up a foot and correct her before it hit the ground. She actually settled down really nicely.
I sure wish someone as there to get a picture of when I was combing her mane. Rosie's bridle path is in desperate need of a trim, so I was trying to get her forelock separated from her mane and the crown of the halter where it was supposed to be when she decided to lift her head up. I had one hand in top of her mane the other on the top of her halter and she lifted me off my feet few inches. I'm sure it was quite comical.
I did the same backing routine as I did with Bonnie, but Rosie backs very nicely out of my space. I don't have to even touch her shoulder most times. Make a motion with my hand in the direction I want her to go - and she does after few seconds of thought and encouragement. Her issue is moving away from side pressure. She wants to turn in circles instead of just step sideways. So I faced her to the stall doors so she couldn't step forward to do the circle around me and worked on just shifting weight away from me until I got one step both ways.
What I struggle with Rosie is giving me her head. She wasn't taught to drop her head for you and since she is so big I'm having a hard time bringing it down. This is a major pain for me when it comes to putting on halters and bridles she knows she can lift higher then I can reach and does. I'm working on the same exercise I do with Bonnie, but we are no where near the stage of relaxing. Does anyone have any suggestions to work on bringing.. and keeping.. the head down for as long as I need?