Wednesday, October 15, 2014

He's Growing on Me...

It dawned on me that I should follow up on the topic of the Name Game post. Since Otto arrived, I was trying to figure out a name for him. I must have tried on atleast 100 names, maybe more. We almost named him O'Rien, then we almost named his Fiddich (like Glenn Fiddich , the Scotch because its' smooth) then we thought we had decided on Atticus and finally I was certain I was going to call him Sterling. Around and around we went and we were beginning to refer to him as

"He who shall remain unnamed"

I couldn't have that. 

The truth is,  I kept coming back to "Otto" Nothing else seemed to work or feel right. He seems to like that name . I know that sounds weird but it's how I usually figure out an animals name. They seem to accept or not accept it in some way or another. Otto seems to be just that.. Otto. So Otto is will be. Now that  that is all settled, more about what the long legged wonder has been up to.

I have raised alot of colts over the years. Thoroughbred colts are notorious for being very playful and exuberant and always  a bit on the mischievous side.  Otto seems to have gotten that trait on some levels. He isn't mischievous, he's actually very well behaved.  But he is very playful and exuberant only,  it's kind of sad because Cassidy doesn't exactly share in that exuberance. Otto has a pasture mate and a horse to learn from ,  but Cassidy is not a "playmate", which Otto really seems to want.

He tries to get Cassidy to play but Cassidy just pins his ears and sends him away.

Baby mouthing and leaving...sad Otto

He is mostly afraid of Cassidy. All Cassidy has to do is sneer at him and Otto is fleeing the scene in order to put alot more space between himself and Cass. I wish we had a horse that would be more of a playmate for him. JB would probably be the best chance at that but my concern is that he might get a little rough.  He spent the first 6 years of his life being a stud. Otto is a very mild mannered colt and I am not certain JB would be very kind to him. For now, I will leave him and Cassidy as pasture mates and let him grow up a bit more.
When I come out to the pasture, Otto comes running up to me. Yes, literally running. He seems genuinely happy to see me each and every time ( and it's not because I greet him with treats because I don't!) for our visits.  I have taken to playing with him out in the pasture a bit . If I run , he will run or trot along with me for a few strides,  and then zoom by me at a gallop and make a big circle, run up and over the archery back stop ( a big dirt mound) in the pasture, then come back to me as if to say   "Did you see that? Wasn't that cool?"

It's pretty funny. He's bonded quickly and loves the interaction with people. 

I am trying to train him to come running to a whistle. He does it only part of the time and I am starting to use treats for that to see if I can reward the right response.
I wasn't sure what kind of personality he was going to have and for the first couple of weeks, he was still adjusting to things. In the last week, he was really come out of his shell. He loves his freedom to run and be a horse.

Training and Groundwork:

I have started getting him used to a saddle blanket in preparation for teaching him to accept a winter blanket (think Montana winter + Colt with not the thickest coat). I am hoping I won't have to blanket but just in case, I wanted to start getting him used to it. I don't want to make the first experience with a blanket in the middle of a snowstorm with howling winds.....and that time of year is just around the corner for us like it or not.

The introduction to the saddle pad was way easier than I thought it would be but hoped for.

It took about five minutes and I was  throwing the blanket on and off of him from both sides, had it up and over his head, over his rump and moving him around with it in various positions. He wasn't really phased or alarmed at it at all. He needs more work with things coming up over the top of his head but otherwise, he did great.  I threw it on the ground and had him walk over it a couple of times.. no biggie. He picked it up in his mouth and carried it around for a couple of seconds.. I didn't want to encourage that behavior so I took it from him.. which actually was a bit of a problem getting it back from him..but eventually he let go. I even wrapped the lead rope around his belly and made it a little snug to mimmick a belly strap of the blanket and took him for a walk. He was hesitant at first but then walked along like nothing was wrong.

"Ok .. what is the purpose of this??"

"This is a dumb game... I will just go back to grazing"

I think he will be just fine with a blanket. This weekend , we will try the real thing


Mel said...

I've done the leadrope over the belly thing but not the blanket with ML. I need to do that just in case. We don't get winters like you do, but our horses also don't grow nice coats and sometimes if we get the rare heavy rain + winds the horses can get pretty chilled. Like Otto, I don't think it's going to be a big deal. I think the hardest thing will the be the leg straps.

have you dont spray bottles/fly spray yet? that's the biggest thing right now that is our sticking point. Seems to be the actula mist settling on her coat and not the sound.

Have you tied him hard a bunch yet?

Mel said...

forgot to follow comments...

Jonna said...

Hi Mel-I agree, the legs straps might be more an area of concern. I have actually taken a rope and run it along , up and down and through his legs.. he was mildly irritated by it but then seemed to relax. I only did that once, I definitely need to revisit that.
I have not done any spray bottle work yet.. was actually going to work on that tomorrow. As far as tying, no, I have not tied him hard yet. I do some initial work before that to prepare them but I need a second set of hands. I have done it a couple of times. It involved having someone at their head, loop the lead rope once around a post, fence or rail of some kind. The horse should have enough lead to move but not so much he can get too far away, if that makes sense. The second person then is behind them with the flag asking the horse to move from one side to the other, slowly.. the idea is that the horse learns that he can move his feet while tied and although it sounds counterinteruitive, once they know they CAN move their feet, they don't have to.If your interested maybe I could do a post on it with photos. We have always used this method for teaching our horses to tie and have never had issues with a puller. We have also helped horses who do set back by teaching them this..

Mel said...

I think that's the missing piece ! ASKING them to move while tied. I've been tying and chilling out with a book. And perhaps throwing a small rock when she paws. She actually seemed to tye BETTER after being startled with a rock and hitting the end of the rope a couple of times and pulling. And now it makes sense why.

I think I'm going to do exactly what you describe here (it makes perfect sense) at our next session and see where it takes us.

SO GLAD other bloggers are getting baby horses at the same time because it's so nice to get ideas. I've been pm'ed a couple times by others to get more deets on stuff I've done with ML and it's so nice when it goes both ways.

Thanks :)

Jonna said...

Hi Mel- yes, alot of people miss the movement piece. Just like "sacking" a horse out.. anyone can get a horse to stand there and "take " it when they sack a horse out.. but watch the worry come up in horse when you ask them to start moving their feet while asking something.. its the same concept here. I learned from a great horseman, and my mentor , that if you have the mind quiet, the feet will be quiet... so it really comes back to getting their thought... focusing on that in my training has made all the difference in my horses over the years.
I am not one to give training advice here on this blog, because I do what has proved to work for me over the years and every horse/person is difference however, and there are plenty of people out there ready to "dispute" a method..but since you are going to give this a try, one other thing to keep in mind that I didn't mention is when you are asking the horse to move back and forth , you are looking for the end result of them moving back and forth quietly, with their head down.. and always pause at either side for a minute of two so they have time to understand the pressure and release. Good Luck

Mel said...

I too am not a huge fan of posting a lot of specific training advice on the blog - I'll answer specific questions and let people know what's worked for me over the years, but training is a grey area that just causes a lot of stress if I post regularly on it. I have pretty good feel, and I'm good at visualizing the end product of the "end of the session" and applying a simple concept across a lot of "tasks" and that has served me well over the years. What I used to not be as good at - but I'm getting better - is to change what I'm doing more quickly - changing the game - if the horse isn't getting the right answer to my question and it's *me* and not *them*.

the tying thing + moving the feet reminds me of what I call "sticky feet". Where the horse seems fine for something but can't walk forward camly - either freezes or rushes. I can visualize the end product of tying as a horse that can calmly and without being stressed move their feet within the box of the tied rope and if they feel the halter pressure they know what to do with it, without trying more pressure or getting stressed. It's a beautiful picture :). And I think I can do it. I wn't even attempt it with Farley. I think we are at a happy compromise with her and I'm not going to mess with it. If she was able to do a ride and tie....and ties to the trailer during rides....I'll take it!!!!!!!!!!!

Mel said...

Again, thanks so much for the insights! I appreciate it.

Jonna said...

Yes, the horse should learn where the end of the leadrope is and not panic when they get to the end of it and instead, move forward so they give themselves the release.

Happy to share thoughts and trade information anytime. Good luck.. and let me know how it all goes. !