Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 7

Seven days!?  Part of me feels like I just picked Marley up yesterday, but then another part feels like I've known him for a long time.  He is really starting to relax in his surroundings, and is much more curious about everything around him.  I walked him a different way to and from his stall today, took him to my car, and let him explore the wash rack.  He's a little spooky, but in my opinion he is doing tremendously well for how few days he has been leading.

I wanted to get Marley used to the mounting block today, so I started off grooming him next to it.  Slowly I moved up the first step, and finally the second.  When he relaxed I brushed his mane (which I've found he really likes) and even braided it!  Don't worry, I took them out so he wouldn't look goofy in front of the other horses, but it was great practice for him.  (Meanwhile, throughout most of Marley's ground training I've been using the clicker.  I reward him when he is relaxed or paying attention to me, depending on the task, and I ignore him if he isn't.) 

After a long grooming session, I decided to work on the saddle again.  He was fine when I put it on his back from both sides, so I moved on to working with the girth.  I started again by just attaching it to one side.  When he was fine with that, I lifted it up until it lightly touched his belly.  He wasn't jumpy, but he tensed up and snorted at me, so I stood with the girth in my hand until he relaxed a little, click, then treat.  I did this several times until he went back to closing his eyes and relaxing in the warm sun.  I took the saddle off, brushed him more, and then we started over.  The saddle went back on, the girth was attached, and this time he stood like a gentleman when I brought the girth to his belly.  I was able to buckle the girth on the first hole and walk him around a little bit.  Slowly I worked it up, until it was at least tight enough for him to move around in it without the saddle sliding.  We played the follow game and I brushed him some more.  He seemed completely comfortable. 

When I put the bridle on, I decided that I would ask him to accept the bit first as it is normally done, rather than putting it on like a halter.  At first he was a little unhappy with both of my arms around his face, but he soon opened his mouth and put his head down for me, making it a much more positive experience.  He didn't even chew on the bit at all today, he just stood quietly while I closed the nose band.


I lunged him again, this time with the saddle and bridle, and he did really well.  The saddle flaps were bouncing up and down and I thought maybe it would startle him, but the most he ever did was perk his ears and move into a big trot.  He even cantered with the saddle and bridle on, and was quiet through it all. 

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I spent a lot of time grooming him after he had done so well.  I worked around his feet, rubbed his face (which he is also starting to love), and was able to brush his tail.  When he was sweat free, I put his sheet on and took his halter off and we just hung out for a while.  I feel so blessed to know this horse.

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