Lunging Lesson (April 17, 2011)

I didn’t go to the barn the weekend of April 9th because I had Bark for Life and book club on Saturday and a migraine on Sunday. So instead here’s a picture of Ilsa doing her part to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

The next Saturday, Jhays and I had our Komodo dragon Wild Encounter at Zoo Atlanta. We got to feed Slasher and tour his enclosure.

Slasher anticipating his snack, or possibly the prospect of eating the child on the other side of the fence.

Slasher with his usual self-satisfied smile.

On Sunday I really just wanted to take a nap after I left my parents’ house in the afternoon, but I went out to the barn anyway. Lorie was there and available, so I was finally able to have her show me how she had been working Vindy on the lunge line. Although he had moments of obstinacy and was somewhat distracted by gnats, which were swarming like crazy, I could really see the progress she had made with him. After she showed me the techniques she had been using, she had me try them too, and it was nice to have tools to deal with some of the ways he tries to get out of work (like spinning around to face you or changing directions without being asked). We didn’t work him for long, but it was a helpful session for me. I was looking forward to work calming down so I could spend more time out there and put these new techniques to use.

To make sure things start at the walk, Lorie first walks him a lap around the arena.

Moving at the trot as asked.

Halting on command.

After the session, I hosed him off. We decided it might be good for me to put some Swat in his ears to keep the gnats away. Apparently my jar of Swat is about 20 years old, because Lorie had never seen the bright pink version before, and that was the only kind I was familiar with. I’m old. Vindy has some sensitivity to having his ears handled, so it took some doing (plus a step stool and help from Lorie and Bryan) to get any of the Swat in his ears. Finally Lorie said if he would just let me hold his ear until he showed signs of relaxation, that would be a good effort for the day. So I cupped his ear in my hand, and finally he dropped his head a fraction and kept it steady without us pulling down on his halter. So I praised him and let it go, and he licked his lips, which was a good sign. I made a note to keep working on desensitizing him to having his ears handled. It’s not a serious problem since he is fine to halter and bridle, but of course we want him to be comfortable having them clipped or medicated when necessary.

I foolishly took him out to the pasture after that, where he promptly rolled in the dirt with his wet coat. Whoops.

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