This week was an interesting one for Newt. I've begun introducing him to a bit more pressure to see how he responds. For the most part, he had been pretty textbook for a young horse without much formal education or spoiling. On Wednesday, he decided he didn't want to be caught so I moved him into a smaller pen next to the barn as he was content to play cat & mouse around the hay ring, his penmate, & from one end of the pen to the other. He was quite evasive & was not interested in allowing me to walk up to him, so I allowed him to travel around the smaller pen for a bit before I started asking him to do some direction changes. He wasn't too keen on that & decided he'd consider a jumping career & cleared the panel into the other gelding pen. I was finally able to catch him by putting him in the alley where there wasn't room for him to run. Amazingly, he came out with some minor scratches on his stifles, which I've been treating with Spurr's Big Fix. (The first three photos from immediately after it happened. The second three photos were taken today - Friday.) Thankfully, things dramatically improved at the end of the week. He's allowed me to catch him in the pen, however, I can tell he's not real keen on it so next we'll I'll be introducing him to some hand targetting using clicker training. In the past, I was one who made them really hustle & move their feet to "improve" our catching. Over the years, it was clear that the horses didn't enjoy that & I didn't enjoy going out to catch said horses either. A few years ago, I began to utilize positive reinforcement with horses who aren't interested in being caught easily. Done right with special attention paid to manners, this has worked well for me. We continued to work on Desensitizing to the Lead Rope, Yielding the HQ, Yielding the FQ, Flexing, Lunging Stage 1, & Sending. I also introduced Desensitizing to the Stick & String, Backing, Circle Driving, & Lunging Stage 2. It's taken some time for him to realize that he can hang out & relax while I'm slapping the ground with the stick & string, but this has improved dramatically since the first part of the week. He's done quite well with Backing. His sticky-ness within Sending, Circle Driving, & Lunging Stage 1 & 2 had improved by the end of the week.
I did opt to hold off on round penning once again after Wednesday's event as I can see him thinking he might be successful in jumping out of there, which won't go nearly as well. I would like him to be a bit better at looking to me & being able to bring that energy up & back down with more consistency before we do that along with his first saddle.
Next week, Newt will likely get to be my groundwork demo horse during the Ranch Retreat. Since I will be busy Wednesday through Sunday with the retreat participants, we will return to our regularly scheduled updates on Saturday, September 30th. That week, we'll continue to work on these exercises while also getting into the round pen to prepare for his first saddle.
- Lexy Nuesch
Next week's update will be posted on Saturday, September 30th.
I do my best to get these updates posted in a timely manner, but it's not uncommon for me to be outside until after dark, depending on the weather, my schedule, & who gets worked when so updates will sometimes be posted quite late in the evening. Don't be alarmed if you don't see your update right away. In rare cases, I may have to push them until the next morning, but I'll reach out & let you know if so.