Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 81

It's the official countdown.  We received word from the Mustang Heritage Foundation that the event is officially on (we were unsure because of the EHV-1 outbreak).  I hope many of you will come to cheer Marley and all of the other mustangs on as they show off what they have learned on June 10th and 11th (Friday and Saturday), then the sale is June 12th.  Hopefully, June 12th will be the day that Marley becomes mine, but I'm still trying to not get my hopes up.

Photo by Steve Heller

Speaking of Marley coming home with me, Marley has a bank account that anyone can deposit into!  It is a 1st Bank Account under the name "Marley the Mustang", which is a club account.  It will be available for access after 4:00 PM mountain std time tomorrow (June 1st).  I am the signer (Lauren Kolker) and it can also be looked up with my name.  I only ask that if you make a deposit, please email me a mailing address so that we can send you your thank you gift, and keep you up to date on Marley's adventures.  Also, please remember that if you make a donation of $150, you will receive a free photo session with Katherine Payne which includes 5 free digital prints!  Katherine's sessions alone are $350, so this is a great opportunity!

Now, for the exciting bit.  Marley was phenomenal today.  I worked with him on and off for about 4.5 hours ( I put him back in his stall twice for a breather, and turned him out once for some time alone outside).  I started out with some tarp work.  I have learned that there will be a lot of flags, noise, and very distracting people at the event, so it became urgent for me to habituate Marley to these things.  When Sean was out the other day, he showed me how to start introducing a tarp to Marley without overloading him.  I worked on this yesterday, but only with a folded up tarp on Marley's neck, so we didn't get very far.  Today however we had a big breakthrough!  Marley stood calmly while I rubbed the folded tarp all over him, including his legs.  Soon he was practically falling asleep, so I unfolded it, crinkled it, and even flapped it over his back.  He stood quietly, head down and relaxed.

Good boy Marley!

"Hmm, this is a little scary"
Next I decided to challenge him a little more and put the tarp on the ground.  I made sure to anchor the corners down with rocks and dirt, but it still made a lot of noise when Marley stepped on it.  He stood with one foot on the tarp and looked at me wide eyed as if I had gone insane.  I patiently stood on the tarp and asked for him to come forward, and as soon as he relaxed I rewarded him.  Even though he didn't technically move, it was a huge improvement from head in the air, whites of his eyes showing, and leaning back on the lead rope.  He immediately understood and within seconds placed his second foot onto the tarp.  Again I rewarded him and talked to him and walked forward.  This time, he followed me, apprehensively, but followed none-the-less.  I made a big deal about it and told him "good boy!" over and over, and wouldn't you know it, he followed me without hesitation at least 10 more times over the scary tarp.  I'll continue to work on this, but I was really happy with where we finished today.

"Ok, fine, I'll follow you"
Later on I got on Marley for some flat work.  Immediately I noticed that I felt somewhat comfortable in my long stirrups, so this was already an improvement.  We went through all of our exercises, spending a lot of time on transitions from walk to halt, halt to walk, walk to trot, trot to halt, etc.  We even got a really nice canter transition, which I left as the only one for that day because I was so happy with it.

Marley wasn't done yet though (we are on crunch time!).  After a short break I set up a small gymnastics grid.  For the first time through, I left all of the jumps as trot poles except for the final one which was set as a small cross rail.  Once Marley gave me a clean jump and landed in a canter, I added the second jump to the bounce.  Marley hasn't seen a bounce yet, so I thought this might be a problem for him.  He didn't even hesitate though, and he actually jumped both fences, landed in a quiet canter, and acted as though he had seen it a hundred times.  I was happy and finished up here.

Photo by Steve Heller
I can't believe we are have just completed our 81st day together.  I honestly feel like it was yesterday that this shaggy little horse trotted up on to the trailer and into my life.  

Shaking off after a good work out and a nice bath!

1 comment:

  1. We'll be cheering you on from the east coast :)