Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Darby Diaries - The little things

Darby's been here for two weeks and one day and we have done a lot of training in that time. For the first ten days he was nervous and squirrely and I may have been nervous, too, but I hope I wasn't squirrely.

We are working on little things: standing still, for instance. Standing still out of my personal space. Keeping his nose and teeth off of me. Combing his mane and forelock (today I even combed his tail). Cutting his mane and bridle path with scissors. Being petted on his face without flinging it around and hitting me. Picking up his feet, standing tied, leading, stopping, backing.
When I feed in the morning I spend time cleaning the stalls while they eat. I want Darby to be used to me being around, even when he's eating. I don't want him to think he has to challenge me for his food so I make sure I'm constantly in the background while he eats. After breakfast, I close Buckles and Darby in the pen/barn, give them their hay,and leave.

I come back in a couple of hours with treats in my pockets and commence training - maybe I will tie him (using an old innertube around a post in his stall) and brush him all over and pick up his feet. It takes five to ten minutes and about sixteen treats. When he stands very nicely, facing forward, I click my tongue and give him a treat. He learns his lessons fast and is standing tied like an old pro.

I don't want to make it sound all peaches and cream, though, because sometimes he still swings his head around as if to bite me. When he bites at me, I roar at him (it comes out like a pirate AAAARRRRGGGG) and chase him out the back door of the stall. Hopefully, he'll rethink the whole biting thing because it's not working for him. Also, I am now walking comfortably around behind him; he no longer feels the need to protect his hind end from me.

In the afternoon I do another short training session - maybe a leading lesson around the pen. Then I pick out their stalls again and give them more hay before I leave.

In the evening, I feed again, pick out stalls, and then they get the best part of their day: turnout and grazing. They look so much alike, it's no wonder I fell in love with Darby when I first saw a picture of him. In this photo, Darby's up close and Buckles is in the background.

Another photo of Buckles at dusk. He has his go-go fly socks on because the flies really bother him.
It has been a productive, successful, and good two weeks.

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