This week was the first full week of working with the weanlings. Since they were born at the university they've had some human contact since birth. Within a week we've been working on getting them used to being haltered, working on desensitizing, and leading.
The horse I am working with is a 7 month old red roan filly named Reagan. She has a lot of energy which seems to make her pretty stubborn. I am still learning and figuring out her personality. With only a week I can see how much she trusts me.
Day 1: We separated the babies from each other. Reagan was not very happy with this. She was more focused on what the other horses were doing. Since Reagan was also not used to a halter she would toss her head. One of the first things we worked on is giving into pressure. This is important to try to make the training as blackand white as possible when they are just learning. If we release the pressure too late, just right, or too soon can make all the difference. As soon as she moves towards me when I pull on the lead is the moment I need to release. Other students were able to get their horses to start understanding the concept of leading. Sadly we weren't one of those people. This was the first day that I worked on getting her used to being touched everywhere.
Day 2: After not having a few days of class the babies were a little riled up. Al lot was changing in such a short time. Reagan was moved from the pasture to an invidual stall. At the same time her feed was changed and she was starting training. Getting her halter on was the easy part, leading her away from the stalls and to the out door arena was another story. She was doing circles around me and stalling out on our way over to the outdoor arena. I let her do this because she was going in the direction that I wanted her to. She also started to push against me to rub on me and just when we are walking. (This is not the correct way to do it). I was nervous about trying to control her because I want her to listen and be respectful, but at the same time I don't want to be too aggressive with her yet. With the help of my teacher I was able to understand and find the balance of what I should be doing. This day we worked on getting her used to the rope. I would swing it in circles beside me until she would relax and then I would stop. This also is based on the pressure/release method. When she relaxed from the pressure I was putting on her I would stop as a release. Reagan picked up on this quickly because by then end I was able to swing the rope over her and have the rope touch her legs without any drama.
Day 3: This day she was a lot better at leading but both of us has somethings to work on. She has become more comfortable with me haltering her and rubbing her down. On this day we worked on just starting round-penning. We learned about where we should stand, how we should hold the whip, and the difference between asking and commanding. The point of doing this was to gain their respect by getting them to move their feet. In the wild horses show dominance by how one horse is able to move the others around through body language. We also continued to rub her down to get her comfortable.
Day 4: Since the weather wasn't the best the teacher has us put the babies in the hot walker to keep up their conditioning. To get from the stall to the hot walker was the most calm walk we've taken so far. She respected my space and when she started to get in my bubble I would let her know. She wasn't trying to race past me either which was good. She was a little timid getting through the gate for her section in the hot walker but once inside she was fine. My smart a** filly figured out how to sneak under the barriers separating her between the horse in front of her. Luckily the colt didn't like her being their and started kicking her. I think from then she decided not to try it again. We separated her again and watched the babies interactions with the walker and their paces. (Some lazier than others). After 15 minutes we weighted them on a scale to monitor their progress and growth through the semester. Reagan weighs 464 lbs at 7 months of age.
Check back next weekend to read about the progress we are making as a team in class.