Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And the rain blew back in....

I am sure we are due some kind of amazing summer.  It's been inordinately cold and even rainier than usual for months and months.  Another teacher lent me a fan in August - I have been shivering in my office since October.  I do have to admit, I shiver when it is 70 degrees, but still....

The one really good sunny day we did have (Sunday), I took Gibby out and attempted to teach him to lunge.  If I could get him lunging well, then I could give my daughter real riding lessons.  It's hard to have an inexperienced rider on a willful horse in an unfenced arena.  Gibby has a real problem with facing me rather than walking on around on the lunge line.  I have gotten him to the point where he can go around on a longish lead rope, but the prospect of being more than five feet away seems to baffle him.  He also has a bad habit of turning his body so that his head is facing you.  I think it might be that he can't see well out of one eye.  It looks like he was hit badly enough to break bones on the right side of his head.  They eye is a bit distorted and when he runs in pasture, he has a nervous habit of jerking his head to that side - I am assuming it is because he wants to see out of his good eye.  So I get why he is turning toward me to see, but it isn't what I want. 

I have had limited success in the past with the lesson, but I have started to point to various places in the stall and find that has been enough to move him those directions, which gave me hope that he was ready to learn a bit.  After making a huge fuss over Ohia (who likes to put his whole big heavy head over my shoulder and lean) and generally making Gibby curious enough to come and put his nose on my back, I put the halter on him and took him out to the arena.  He responds much better to a rope halter than a web halter, so I tried hooking the lunge on that rather than putting on the snaffle and headpiece.  He did much better - at least on the side he can see well.  I actually got him to lunge in a 5 meter circle a few times at the trot.  When I asked him to move out further, he got nervous - and lunging to the blind side was a disaster.  I guess we're still working on trust.  I got him to do the successful side one more time and called it pau. 

I felt most successful that he didn't try to run out on me - like he usually does when he is scared.  He looked interested and like he was really trying. 

Now, if it would only stop raining.  I hate lunging in the rain.  If it doesn't stop, I will have to do it anyway - I want to give my daughter proper lessons twice a week this summer.  Her legs are finally long enough to be effective and she is the only kid showing interest out of the four.  The next one up was interested as a kid, but had grown out of it.  I also think it will be good for Gibby to have his mind occupied on work rather than on how scary new things are.  It's taken him 14 months to get this far - to trust even this much. 

2 comments:

Stacy Davis said...

I started asking for a horse when I was 2. I've always loved them, still do and am very happy that my daughter shows interest as well. I've never owned a horse though, or even had lessons, so even though we have acreage and a horse barn, we will probably never own one. They seem to require much more knowledge than sheep or cows. At least I can give her lessons at a local stable though! Great progress you're making, it must be very scary for Gibby, not being able to see out of that eye. Hopefully it dries up for you...

NancyDe said...

Hi Stacy - horses definitely seem more fragile in a lot of ways (despite the size) than sheep - in spite of their reputation. I took a few years off my career to work with horses, so that really helped. I think it made me a better teacher, too. I am glad that your daughter is liking horses and getting lessons. I hope I can teach my daughter - much harder to teach your own kids than someone else's kid's, for some reason.