Tony is making lovely progress; this weeks most obvious has been getting comfortable in his own skin. He isn’t in extreme isolation or anything but being in a pen by himself is hard for a young guy like him. I will put my old horse Rio in with him from time to time just to remind him that he wont be alone for the rest of his life and Rio’s security only helps Tony to raise his security. The more time I get to spend with Tony the more secure he gets with being alone, self confidence comes from support not pressure or abandonment.
I have spend quite a bit of time doing groundwork with and without a flag. He is really starting to understand that it can be something that can move his feet and something that is purely stimulation or obsolete. Learning to accept the flag and also to allow it to influence his feet is an important part in a horses’ education as it applies to so many things. The riders leg is the most obvious, as it is just there and may be asking nothing of a horse and then through the horse feeling the intent of the rider may then be asking to move or influence the horse.
I also spend time asking Tony to accept me and learn to let down so that he can start to really enjoy being groomed and trust that every time I am around him that I am not always asking something of him. I brush him, scratch his itches, rub that sweet spot around his eyes and touch those places that seem private and worth protecting (like behind his elbows and under his tail). After a little time of him purely tolerating me touching him at all he is genuinely beginning to like our time together. He is also choosing to be with me quite a bit more now, I used to have to convince and draw him to me to put a halter on and he wasn’t very let down in doing so. As of the last few days he has actually decided to be with me and come to me before I even have the gate latched as I go into his pen. I find such peace for horses as they choose to be around you; not for food, not to be pushy, not to try to get out of the gate….just to be with you!