08.05.25: Put your nose on... Apples!

This weekend has been spent enjoying Storm's company and hanging out. We've also managed to put several hours in working on different things. Saturday morning's class with the high school students didn't pan out since no one showed up. I was relieved to have some time to myself to spend some time playing with him.

We worked on many concepts trying to keep moving as progress was made with each one so that he didn't get bored. I spent time working on picking up his feet, asking him to back up, working on his circling game, putting his feet on the pedestal, driving him from zone 3, and working on jumping up and down next to him so that he doesn't spook. He did very well with all of the tasks, and is progressing nicely.

The pedastal was a new concept for him, and it took him a while, but he eventually began to put his foot up on the top and paw at the surface. I took that as a good try and we moved on to work on other things for a while before coming back. He did eventually make an attempt at putting the other foot up, though he ended up stepping off to the side rather clumsily, which was fine for an attempt. When he does manage to get over it, he can actually stand comfortably with the whole pedestal underneath him, which makes for a bit of a challenge when you don't want him to move around it that easily.

We also worked on desensitizing him to me jumping around him and acting crazy. He tolerated my antics very well, including me bumping him in the stomach and flanks with my legs as best I could in an attempt to get him familiar with the sensation in the probable chance that I kick him in my efforts to vault on to him some day.

Picking up his feet is going slowly, but we are getting there. He is beginning to get more sensitive at lifting his feet, however, we still have not progressed to holding them yet, he still only lifts them up and shifts away from the pressure instead. Hopefully we can continue to work through that quickly though.

Sunday after our friends were headed to the airplane on the way home, we got Storm out and finally played a game that we planned on working on for a while, and hadn't had the chance. I headed out to the pasture and Storm was in the run in with most of the other horses, and he didn't budge from where he was out of sight when we called. I walked down the outside of the pasture while Jim headed off to the arena, and when Storm caught sight of both of us, he headed out of the shed. He broke into a trot coming across the pasture and then headed up the hill to me and slowed to a walk right before he got close. It was a delight to see him coming with his head up full of curiosity.

I put the halter on him and headed back up the hill to the gate, while Jim took the bag of carrots and apples and planted them about the arena on top of obstacles. We walked down the hill and Jim told me where the treats were scattered and I headed off driving him from zone 3 to the first treat. It took him a moment to find the treat on top of the mounting block, but he was rather curious when he did. He finished chewing, and then paused, and then licked and chewed and thought it over some more.

We headed for the second treat on top of a jump standard. He arrived, and knocked the treat onto the ground. It took a bit of nuding forward and backwards before he managed find the fallen carrot. We moved on to other obstacles, some with treats and some without. He became quite good at looking for the treat, and finding it without too much trouble.

We ended with the pedestal again, and he was eager to get the treat off the top. I asked for him to put his foot up on top, and he made a great deal of effort. He still isn't confident with two feet, and makes attempts that result in twisting off to the side. He is tearing up the surface of the pedestal with his big feet though. I'll have to figure out how to fix that...

After he made a really good effort with the pedestal, we headed out for the day since it was so warm. Jim grazed him for a bit while I headed up to the house to get some much needed water. He is making plenty of progress, and hopefully beginning to enjoy himself as he learns. He is very sensitive and is beginning to take suggestions from the stick very well. I'm really pleased with his progress.
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