another surprise…another lesson…

sometimes when horses are rescued it’s walk up to them in a pen..put on a halter/lead them away to a better life..but sometimes when horses are rescued and time is of the essence and the horses are loose or in a big field maybe the fastest way to catch them is rope them…depending on the handler of the rope the outcome can vary…in this instance the experience was not the greatest…so part of working with these four is building their trust…letting them know fast movements don’t always end badly…not all ropes mean trouble…that sometimes people just move quickly..or sneeze ..or trip..or ?.. .one of the trust building exercises is putting on flymasks…most horses learn a flymask is a nice thing..keep the flys out of their eyes …but the first experience with one can be scary..a predator putting something over your eyes , attaching it, leaving it there..they can see thru them and usually adjust quickly but getting one on the first time is a good time to be never know when a horse will strike up with a front foot as an instinctive reaction to the situation..
so in working with these four it’s Sampson first..i’ve had one on him before..take it to him..hold it up..he puts his head down..”put it on”..fasten it..he walks off politely..assuming Bella would be the next best candidate since she always wants to try everything …same thing…lowers her head…flymask goes over one ear but gets stuck on the other …once in awhile a horse will leave in that situation or toss it off…she waits…trys to help me by repositioning her head… mask goes on and is fastened under her chin…
now it’s Jade…the definite leader…alpha mare…the quiet one that we thought was timid has shown over time to be a quiet but very much in charge leader/ protector…Jade won’t take the flymask…wanders off when I get close…getting a halter/lead rope will try a different method…she stands for the haltering … now being able to keep her there offer her the flymask…she says no by moving her head away…sometimes offering it from the front or toward the horse is scary so will try another way…letting her sniff it… gently touching it to her shoulder…she accepts…she stands… laying it over her back she stands…moving it up her neck over her mane behind her ears…she accepts…she stands…”no” would be leaning away…trying to leave…as the flymask is sitting behind her ears she lowers her head…”put it on.”..she’s had one before I guess…she offers again…put it on over my ears…so I do…she accepts… stands…no nerves…calm…fastening it under her chin I undo the halter … slide it out under the flymask..she wanders away… now it’s Sally…the most green of the bunch…the most aloof…since it’s Sunday with the family here she’s already been caught up for her lesson… has her halter/lead rope on..taking the flymask to Sally she’s nervous..shallow breathing..ready to leave..standing beside her I close and open the velcro straps slowly so she hears the noise..sometimes it is the noise of the velcro that is standing there closing and opening over and over having the Velcro make it’s noise until she relaxes i move to the next step..scrunch it up in my hand making it smaller..not so scary..she stands..let her sniff it..touch her shoulder..she thinking she’s nervous am guessing the best way is over the neck like Jade..and find out am thinking wrong..she accepts it on her back..and up her neck..but over the ears is a definite” no”..said by i’ll leave..said by a stiffening of her body …ready to leave before I can blink…ok…remove it…plan b…holding it up in front of her let her sniff again…gently touching it to her nose she stands and slowly lowers her nose..”ok”… putting it over her nose..she stands..she lowers her nose ever so slightly again…my signal to move it up more on the bridge of her nose …she stands..she’s been watching the other horses …here she teaches me how closely they I’m holding the flymask up over the bridge of her nose …only her eyes showing she slowly tips one ear down and toward me..”put it on”..gently putting it over her ear and now having one eye covered by the mask with one eye showing I know if you’ve done this very much it’s a time where she could change her mind.. realize she thought she could do it but can’t… spin away…bolt with lead rope dragging … maybe me too… the scary thing on one ear…flinging her head til it falls off…am ready for that but hoping that’s not what happens…it’s not…to my surprise she gently tilts her head the other direction and down slightly…”now this ear”…and I do…wanting to breathe a sigh of relief but knowing I have yet to fasten it i go to the next/last step…fasten the Velcro…having pulled it apart those many times earlier to help her know the sound if it makes sound here… she stands…quietly sighs..and I thank her for the lesson of how much and how closely she watches what is happening to the others.. and as I reach up and pull her forelock out over the mask am taught another lesson on how closely they watch…Jade who was standing nearby seeming to doze walks up to me…stands very close and lowers her head…am not sure what she wants…then I see it…her forelock is under her mask…she wants it lifted out over the mask too…
           Sally…it’s on!                           Sally forelock adjusted             Jade…mine too please
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