Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 65

Still no riding as the arena continues to be too slick and muddy, though it has at least drained enough that we were able to bring Marley out for some play.  He was VERY happy to get out and do more than walk around on his lead rope and he actually nickered when I opened the arena gate.  He was very polite and waited calmly for me to take his halter off before he tore off (much faster than I would have liked him to) in a fit of bucks with his tail straight up in the air.  Boy that feels good!

Marley Kiss!

After he made a few laps on his own he started challenging Mike to run with him.  He is so playful, as I have mentioned in previous posts, and when he wants you to play with him he'll run up to you and then right when you think he isn't going to stop he spins around and bounces away.  Mike obliged while I took some video.

video


We spent at least a couple of hours letting him stretch his legs and roll around in the arena before I put a halter on him and did some ground work.  Marley even learned a new behavior today!  I was standing up on the mounting block playing with Marley's forelock before I had put his halter on him, and he acted like he wanted to crawl up onto the block with me.  I figured we would go with it, and when I had a halter on him we moved to the only dry spot in the arena (the bridge), and placed the mounting block in the middle of it.  Just to ease everyone's mind here, the mounting block we have is a big wooden box and is very sturdy.  We lined Marley up to the mounting block and just stood behind it asking him to take a step.  As soon as he lifted his foot I said "up" and rewarded him.  I usually don't pair a vocal cue with a behavior until it is solid, but I wanted to see how quickly Marley would pick this up or if the vocal cue would help him.  As soon as he was rewarded for picking up his foot the first time, he repeated it over and over until he placed it in the correct place, the top of the mounting block.  Again I said "up" and rewarded him.  At this point Marley was really interested, and he definitely understood what I had just rewarded him for because the next time he tried, he placed his foot directly onto the mounting block and held it there until I asked him to back.  We repeated this step a few times with the same "up" cue and lots of praise when completed.  After 4 or 5 approximations, I asked him forward a little bit so that he would pick up his other front foot.  I was prepared to reward him for an attempt, but basically Marley had already figured out this game and he stepped up and stood calmly and confidently with two front feet on top of the mounting block until I asked him to back up.  He was very pleased with himself.

After the three of us were sufficiently covered in a fresh layer of mud, Mike and I left Marley (a little apprehensively as I was a little worried he would jump the fence again) to work on the mess in his stall.  At this point there isn't much we can do about the mud, but I was determined to at least make it better and after some shoveling and raking it at least seemed to be draining more efficiently.  This may be a first, but I'm really actually hoping for some wind tomorrow to help dry up the facility.  I'm getting REALLY sick of not being able to ride, this entire week has been a bust! 

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