Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is that Trigger?

Well, the big guy has been really busy for the past few days. I have so much to fill you in on and so many pictures to share!
So he had been behaving like a pretty bad boy. The last post was about busting the fence and my concerns about working with him while he’s eating.

The fence rail he kicked out when I touched him on the shoulder while he was eating. Dude! (And I don't say "Dude" very often, but...) Dude! I'm so thankful I was not on his side of the fence when he reacted!
And he also did THIS when he got into a fight with Forrest during which he gave Forrest a big fat hock!

So for the last 4 days, we've been busy! I worked with him on the food issues, and using a suggestion from Kacy, (thank you so much) I brought a wheelbarrow load of hay and grain into the arena then brought him in with me and we both came upon the food together!

The things I did to work up to that and then taking him to the food, made a huge difference in his eating behavior.

And we did some ground work! This tarp was very scary at first!

You can kind of see how bad his feet still are. We worked on picking up his feet as well. He's making some progress. I'm certain he's never had his hooves trimmed in his life. He has no clue as to how to pick up his hooves. He's like a baby whose never had his hooves handled before.

LOOK...where I'm standing! Woo hoo!!

I'm so excited to be taking a picture from this angle. He's like, "I will allow it this once." What a pill.

Really, I've discovered that he enjoys being fussed over. Initially, I couldn't get close to him with a brush in my hand. He acted like it was a weapon. Isn't that sad! And NUTS! Now he loves it. I'd like to think that when he was a baby, someone pampered him a little bit and the memory of that is returning. (making stuff up in my head again...)

I spent some time brushing him and working on his horribly tangled tail. He seemed to like that. His trust meter is really climbing! I'm so proud of him.

We were doing so well, that I figured we need to take it to the next level and what else could I do than pull out Forrest's draft saddle to see what he thought about that. He can buck!

What's this?
You think you're going to put it where?

The pad is accepted without much fuss.
Now how the heck do I get this heavy thing, clear up there? (His hind leg looks relaxed doesn't it? I wonder... :0)

It wasn't easy, but I got the heavy saddle on his back. I carried it around on my head for awhile, trying to figure it out, then I had to stand on a mounting block to git r' done. Now all I have to do is attach the girth on and cinch up!
Trigger...on steriods!

Here he is, all cinched up! The bucking fest is over. (Sorry no pictures of that, I was busy saving my life.) He just got a little excited. Then I let him hang out and eat hay with the saddle on. He got comfortable with it. Then he became frightened of it when I went to take it off. It fits really well, but taking it off took some imagination to get done safely. For that, once again, I put a fence between us. It's not that he's so much worse than other horses when he gets reactive in situations like this, just so much bigger when he does react. It's like avoiding an earthquake! You can't really!=0) So it's best not to be find yourself in the same region when it happens.

I've been worried about his teeth so last night, our friends from Performance Equine Dentistry stopped in on their way home to give my big buddy a once over. Dick and Kathy Vetter are awesome. They even gave me a deduction as a donation toward Spencer's rehabilitation.

It was getting dark by the time we got started. Spencer was pretty good, but not the easiest patient Dick has done, or the biggest (but we had to work on him outside their clinic trailer) Even after he was sleepy, he was a bit of a giant snapping turtle. We'll work on his behavior with others. So far, he can only handle one human at a time.

I told Dick he deserved an award for getting this guy done. He said, "No, you deserve an award if you can make a good horse out of this guy." Thanks Dick! I will.

I've heard that horses won't purposely hurt people they like. I think it's better to say, horses won't purposely hurt people they trust. I'm getting the feeling that he no longer wants to hurt me. Once we get past that, then we can really go to work on somethings.

It will take time to let him know that all humans can be trusted. He just had some bad luck with a few in the past. I keep saying, he seems like such an unhandled horse, but I know also that he was handled, but over-handled when he was.

He just doesn't trust people and is so accustomed to being bad when he didn't have a studchain on his face and being good when he did because of the amount of pain that could be inflicted on him if he stepped out of line.

That's the horse I met, a few months ago. I've only used a rope halter on him. I was leading him back to the pasture today and it was like leading a tame pony. I flashed back on the enraged bull elephant that I was leading (with 2 leadropes) from the stall to the paddock early on. What a difference!

So this afternoon, I brushed his tail completely out! While he was eating!

Friends who have met Spencer and who know how lazy I can be, and who saw that his tail was one thick mat when I brought him home, threatened to shoot me if I cut if off! Still, I thought about it.

But I didn't. I spent several hours on it and well, it was so worth it...don't you think?

Back out with his friends! What a moose!

Thanks everyone for your support and suggestions! As you can see, I listen to each one and find what works!


Anonymous said...

Great pics! Wow, a saddle, that's progress! What a far cry from the boy you first met!
Heh, I'll have to post a pic of the panel Klein bent in the arena after she tried to, JUMP OUT. She was only trotting and pretty much hopped right over it on the longe line one day for no apparent reason.

Amy Jo said...

You are a true horseman (horsewoman). I hope you are richly rewarded for your kindness and caring for the animals.

Mustang Heritage said...

your doing so well..seriously.
You made a HUGE accomplishment today with him and wearing a saddle. I mean big. I have to say that says he has some good trust in you.
awesome job!!! Keep going :-)

ezra_pandora said...

Great pictures! Love the one with him looking at you and thinking "you're going to do what with that?" lol He's so expressive too. He's so luck to have found you to love and care for him.

Finny said...

Holy Cow !! What a surprise to see this - from kinda accepting you at feeding time, to now having his tail brushed, AND a SADDLE ON ! WOW is all I can say. I think the trust he is starting to develop for you is growing fast. Just be careful to not let your guard down. Keep up the great job - you are indeed a true horsewoman ! Love the pictures !

Pat said...

Thank you! It's really rewarding to see him come so far in a relatively short time. I think that's a draft mentality. It just seems to me, with my limited experience with them, that it's easier for drafts and draft crosses to slow down and think things through and focus. They may react like an Arab (He does freqently!) but the outburst is quick and then it's over and he stops and thinks his situation through. You can kind of see him asking, "What do I need to do to make this easy on myself?" Some horses take a while to get to that stage, but drafts seem to go there pretty fast.

I did some clicker training with Forrest (half-Clydesdale) and he got it really fast. I tried the same stuff on my Arab and she never really did get it. My quarter horse, got some of the things I asked for, but not as fast as Forrest did. I think this phenom in terms of a draft mind works at about the same speed as a human. They can sit an idle for long periods of time. The stock types think faster than NASCAR speeds and an hotter horses, like TB's, their minds move at off the chart RPMs. Arabs = warp speed!

Just rambling! Thanka again guys! Your comments mean everything to me.

SunnySD said...

What a lovely tail - and an amazing amount of progress!

Rachel said...

Please do post more on what Kacy suggested with the food.

I'm still an adventurous beginner and am learning (and trying to learn!) as much as I can about building a great trusting relationship with my horse.

I love hearing about how much Spencer has changed - for the better! And keep those pictures coming!

Liri said...

Wow, good job on the tail! I'm pretty sure I would've just cut it off... I am sad there are no pics of him bucking. With a horse that big, I'm sure it was an impressive sight!

CyborgSuzy said...

Wow. Progress, indeed. I did NOT expect to see him in a saddle this soon!

Indra said...

He's looking great, I'm so glad he's found a good home with you getting the care and handling he needs.
Congrats on all your accomplishments with him.

bhm said...

Cute pictures of Spencer. I can't believe that you got a saddle on him. It's amazing how well he leads now.

Tina said...

Just found your barefoot blog and Spencer's. We have barefoot drafts, and love them. We use Bowers/Parelli methods and are having great success. I love the pictures of Spencer with the menagerie. Very cute! Can't wait to see how he progresses.

Tina - playswithpercherons.blogspot.com

fjordwoman said...

I'm so happy for you and Spencer. He is one lucky boy, having you as his advocate. We need a new post, Pat! Love to hear about Spencer's latest
going's on.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

You are doing such great things with him. His odds were virtually zero when I saw his ad posted. I was sure the next stop for him was a double-decker. Now he is on track to being a riding horse and I know you will get there!

skatej said...

So, how is Spencer these days (and how is his trainer)? We haven't heard from either in a month!

lytha said...

Hey! That's my horse dentist! First I thought, "Funny, why is Dr. Vetter working outside of his trailer?" but then you explained: )

Hey, maybe if Dr. Vetter doesn't always use his trailer, he'll come to Germany and work on my horse over here!

Do Kathy and Dick know they're in your blog? I'm telling!

Oh, for a good horse dentist in Western Germany...