10.09.04: ERAF

Saturday morning started out nice and lazy since orientation at ERAF didn't start until 10:00. We had a lazy breakfast including smoothies and eventually headed over to ERAF. ERAF's facility is gorgoues, and orientation was held in the center of the barn at a big table with a white board close by. We filmed Kirsten going over the concepts for the foundation of ERAF's retraining program that helps rehabilitate the horses so that they can become productive members of the human-horse world again. There weren't many people that attended the orientation, but the few that were there really were able to get a thorough understanding of the big picture of ERAF's goals for every horse and how they go through the process to acheive them. Once we finished that, the next step was to go over the "clinic" for the day, which was part of their Course 1 for the horses, and dealt with Farrier and Vet prep. Since there were a handful of newer volunteers there, she went through the first four requirements which is Catching, the Learning Frame of Mind exercises one and two, plus leading. She was able to do a really great demonstration with Stacy, the little horse Jeffra worked on, about how detailed catching really is, and the importance of having the horse really "catch you" with the mind before you go in to do anything else. Stacy was very reluctant to want to connect to Kirsten, and so she was able to show the slow process of what it takes to really have a horse's willingness through the exercise, not just their physical cooporation. When she finished that, she did a second demonstration with a little pony named Starbucks about how to help a horse learn to stand still. A woman had already been working with him prior to Kirsten using him for the demo, so he was not very pleased at having his routine interrupted. It made for the perfect example of how important it is to use passive persistence to correct a horse that is passively attempting to control the situation. Starbucks continually would walk forward and turn around attempting to face out the door again, and Kirsten kept having to gently reset him back into position on the floor mats.
We wrapped up the demos and everyone got to work spending some time with the horse that they chose to work with. Kirsten asked Jim and I to help out giving some people a little guidance, and so I ended up hanging out with some young boys who happened to be trying to get Starbuck's attention after he was put back into a stall with a hay bag hanging up. The persistent little pony was doing a great job at walking ahead of them around the stall, and making them to a lot of work. I helped them to use the end of the rope to tap his rump and continue doing so until he gave them some attention. They were able to get him to look at them several times, and so we quit there.
I headed out the back door and watched Jim working with a little mare named Lulu that for the world could have been Bonnie. Someone had gone out to catch her, and for whatever reason she decided she was having no part of it. Jim was able to get close to her and rub her, but as soon as she felt like you were attempting to catch her, she was off again. Jim worked with the girl that was trying to catch her and explained a few things about approaching with less of a direct line intent, and retreating to reward Lulu when she did something that was an attempt to connect with her.
In the mean time, I headed out to another pasture with one of the boys to work on some catching with another horse named Katie. She offered us a connection right away when we approached, so we slipped the halter on, and went into the Learning Frame of Mind exercises. Katie was a bit pushy, wanting to walk into the kid, and I had to help him define his boundaries a little better and not allow her to run him over. He got better about pushing her out of his space, and was able to ask her to focus quite well. So we moved into the walking backwards portion of the Learning Frame of Mind, and she continued to push forward too quickly, but he got the hang of establishing the boundary again, and so then she flipped over to not being able to move at all, and he was having to wait for her to come off the pressure of the halter. Someone called for him, so I put her fly mask on, and we asked her to put her head down, and discovered that she wanted to rip out of the halter in a hurry. We slowed down and asked her to put her head down, and got the halter half way off, and she tossed her head again. Finally I was able to slip it off with her head somewhat down, and she paused, and then spun and took off in a canter. I explaind to him why it was important to work on that since it can be dangerous to have a horse bolt away.
We headed back into the barn, and I caught up with Jim wrapping up his efforts with Lulu. He was able to rub on her, so he called it a day, and was headed back in when I walkd up. We chatted with a few of the other ladies that were there, and I commented that it would be a good time to go out and give Lulu a cookie and be done with it, to help her reinforce that people are not just out to chase her around.
We headed out to see what Kirsten was up to and found her giving some instruction to two people that were working with a little colt that had come to ERAF when he was only three weeks old. He had gotten to the point where he was biting and striking out at people as a result of people not really knowing how to handle a baby. She was giving some  really interestin insight into what to do with a young horse that could be aggressive, and pointed out that Logan probably got confident as a baby, and then people began to get a little afraid of him when he got a little too confident and started striking out and biting as most babies do. So as a result, he was a bit over corrected, which only served to escalate the issues. Kirsten stressed the importance of doing things that were undemanding with Logan and helping him to realize that working with people could be a pleasurable experience. Logan was able to make some nice improvements while she went through some simple things with him and allowed him to graze for a while in between. As we were waiting one of the woman that had been trying to catch Lulu walked up with her, and commented that once she gave her a cookie, Lulu wouldn't leave her alone. I was dissapointed that the woman hadn't seen the value in NOT catching Lulu, and only doing something nice for Lulu, but wasn't surprised as it seemed that the woman took it a bit personally that Lulu was refusing to be caught.
We wrapped it up at ERAF and headed home to cool off and catch up for the day.
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10.09.05: A Ride in the Heat and a Walk in the Rain