Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 5

I don't have many photos or videos today as I went out to work with Marley by myself.  I got out there about 8:45 this morning, and the barn was nice and quiet... just what I was hoping for.  Marley actually seemed a little more hesitant walking up to the round pen, maybe he thought there wasn't enough going on?  In any case, we got there just fine and I started with some clicker training and light lunging to get him thinking.

Marley in his first bridle!
The first thing on the agenda today was a bridle.  I still haven't taken his halter on and off yet, and I wasn't sure how he would react with me working around his head and face so much.  I started off with just taking off and putting on the rope halter, at first only barely lifting it off and then putting it back on.  In a few minutes I was taking the halter completely off, stepping back, and then walking up and putting it back on.  Basically all Marley cared about were the carrots in my pocket, so he did just fine.  To introduce the bridle, and especially the bit, I decided it would be best to put it on like a halter rather than to put the bit in his mouth first and try to pull the crown piece over his ears.  I used to have a thoroughbred that hated his head touched, and this method had really helped him.  Since Marley is still a little bit skittish, I thought a bad experience around his face could set us back a few days.  I started by opening the left cheek piece of the bridle so that it opened up just like a halter, then I put his ears through the brow band and set the crown piece in place.  When he stopped looking at me like I was insane, I held the bit and left cheek piece to his mouth, which he opened right away because I'm sure he thought I was feeding him something.  Sorry Marley.  I buckled the cheek piece and stood with him while he chewed and moved his tongue around trying to figure out what the heck I had just done to him.  I didn't want to pull on the bit at all today, so I decided to wrap up the reins and just lead him around by the halter (which I had left on him under the bridle) until he felt comfortable.  When he did, I pushed him out and lunged him a little bit until he was completely quiet in it.  I was really proud of him.

I'm a good boy...and pretty dang cute to boot!
"What's the point of this?"
Next I decided that it was time to put something over his back.  First I threw a saddle pad on, and he acted as if he didn't even notice.  I then pulled out a big fleece cooler which I folded up so that it would just lay over his withers, but I could unfold it while it was on him once he was comfortable.  Pretty soon the whole thing was on, practically dragging on the ground, and tied in the front.  He was pretty nervous at first but calmed down and then walked quietly around, and stood while I combed his mane.

Practicing picking up his front feet for the farrier
Finally, I practiced picking up his front feet and holding on to them for a bit longer than he was used to.  His front feet could use a trim, so I really would like to have this behavior solid in the coming week.  I was really creative and got a horrible photo for you all to see!  Next week I am going to be on spring break, so I have full days to work with Marley.  Because of this, my goal is to have him under saddle by then.  Stay tuned!!


  1. Lauren, this is amazing!! I'm partly jealous but mostly so excited for you! You got a winner in that crowd of mustangs. Can't wait for more posts!

  2. Lauren-
    Im enjoying reading your posts... I love that you are still doing and loving what I remember you doing and loving in the 5th grade! Marley seems amazing, and its so cool to see you "doing your thing" with him.

    keep the posts coming! love it!

    Tessa (Lewis) Stockman