Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Language She Understands

Its been busy around the ranch. The weather got HOT, HOT, HOT which stressed our AC, our water and, oddly, our septic. All three went out, and now, over $3,000 later, we're back in business. They restored our AC before the triple digit heat set in, thank the Lord for that!!

The flies in the barn are bad. We try to keep the stalls clean, and we hang the fly strips which are completely full within a day. We also spray the stalls with fly repellant. A friend has recommended fly predators, so we may look into that, also.

Beautiful is one of the family now. She has a strong whinny--not babyish at all--it sounds like a big horse. When she sees me coming, or even hears me from a distance, she calls out. She likes companionship and food.

We have a new thing we do through the bars--when I'm standing out there chatting--she comes up face first and I signal with my hand to come further--which she now knows means to turn sideways and come up against the railing where I can reach her withers.

She's so smart--I think she'll catch on to sign language easily. I'm going to combine a signal with everything I ask and try to teach her so she always knows what's coming. It seems to give her more confidence to see where I'm going and what I want before it happens.

Nowadays, when I'm in the stall with her and petting on her, I just reach down and pick up the front feet and rub the back as part of the normal routine. She doesn't move away anymore.

My pony is my new big project. We have her stalled again so I can get to her easily. That wasn't actually planned, but she got out one day and by the time I caught her, I decided I'd NEVER let her out into the big pasture again! I will, of course, but not until she comes to me in a big area.

So, I'm thinking good training for her will be to release her in the roundpen each day and try to catch her. I had to do that the day she got out. In fact, I had to withhold food until she came to me. It took her about 8 hours to get the picture she wasn't being fed until she stood still, but she's smart, and she definitely did figure it out.

Every day during the feeding routine, I put my hand out for her to come to me, and if she does, I feed her, if she doesn't, she waits. She's getting better at that. She's really good at letting me catch her in a stall and take her halter off and on.

My grand-daughter really loves this pony, so she has a permanent home here. I've got to figure out how to get past the barriers and bring Jasmine into a horse/human relationship where she's a "willing partner". I know she's capable--I just need to find the language that she understands.

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