Saturday, November 27, 2010

Training in Earnest

It takes the same amount of imagination to scare yourself to death as it does to inspire yourself to life.

I've decided that it is time for me to get serious about Danny's training. We put a halter on him when he was just a few days old but I've not worked with him as diligently as I should have been with leading and basic ground work. I kept thinking, I have time and I'll just wait until he's a few months older or until he's ready to wean. Well, he'll be seven months old in less than a Wednesday to be exact. This is both the time to wean him and time to become far more diligent with his training.
So far, he's been great about turning and backing. He's pretty good at whoa although I don't think he quite understands the command yet. He's best at the backing and when in doubt, he'll back every time no matter what you've actually asked him to do. Moving forward has been a bit of a problem but then, in Danny's defense, I really haven't worked with him enough for him to understand what I want.
I came up with the idea yesterday of having Steve lead Mouse around while I led Danny. I don't think Steve understood quite what I had in mind because he started leading Mouse down the hillside before Danny and I were ready to follow. I always try to start and end with what Danny already knows so that we are both beginning and ending on a good note. I will turn him to the left and then to the right. Then we will back up for several feet before, "Whoa!" and then, "Let's go. Forward." Despite the fact that his example,Mouse, was too far away by now to help much, Danny started moving forward better than he ever had before. He didn't even crowd me much and when he did get a little close, I would simply push his head away and tell him to, "Back off." We were doing great until Django decided to help. Evidently, he thought that my constantly urging Danny forward meant that the foal wasn't doing what I wanted and he began biting Danny on the rump. I brought Danny to a halt and this time, I told Django to back off. It didn't help much. He did stop biting but then, he started pushing Danny with his chest!
I've made another decision. Today's lesson, Django will be the one leading by example on the end of a lead rope. This will not only keep Django out of our way and prevent Danny from being pushed on top of me but I also think that Danny spends more time with Django now than he does his mama. So, Django may be the mentor who teaches Danny how to lead, load and ride in a trailer and other lessons over the next few months. Well, every lesson but the farrier because Django would not be the best example in that situation.

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