TB Training Week 11
Our trainer Katie Dixon returned to the ranch after 2 weeks hosting the Reach Out to Horses clinics at her ranch (Renagade Equine). Katie and our mare Sassy got right to work in our newly groomed arena. Sassy is probably our most sensitive mare. She struggles with human touch that she doesn't initiate and recently had a difficult encounter with a gentle farrier that ended with explosive, defensive behavior.
One the many things interesting about Sassy is her desire to be near people on her terms like she really wants to get over the trauma she suffered as a young mare. So when Katie stood in front of the arena Sassy was quick to come up and accept the halter. "I'm ready for school!"
Katie worked through a series of gentle desensitizing exercises with the pool noodle and you could just see Sassy's skin twitch at each touch and her big head pop up like she was going to bolt - but she stayed put trusting Katie. Katie worked along the body and slowly down to the legs and hooves that just jerked like they were getting an electric shock. Each stroke ended with praise and Katie's gentle and reassuring voice and you could just see Sassy slowly relax and accept. A bit of pressure on..then pressure off...then praise and sometimes a click and a treat.
Katie moved on to using the soft rope through the legs to lift legs. At first the movement was jerky and there were lots of kicks but again slowly the kicks began to become slower and more controlled until there were slow lifts with some big sighs. A big day for all of us and now lots more work to keep it going.
The second horse in was Hank, out 22 year old quarter horse pony. Hank spent a week at the Reach Out to Horses clinic with Katie and Anna Twinney. On his way back to the ranch, Hank was evaluated at Bend Equine and the vets cleared him to train for a rider and saddle. Hank had some painful experiences with riders in the past and one of our volunteers started working with him a few weeks back and wanted some guidance from Katie. Hank is a champ in on the lead and wants to please but can be very pushy with volunteers in his pen. Two different vets have told us, "Hank needs a job." We are hoping that job might be accepting an appropriate rider some day or just doing groundwork and courses on the lead. Time will tell.