March 14, 2006
Considering that I haven't worked with Nova much lately he was really good. His trick to get attention when he is tied up now is to get the rope/across his neck, and then to look at me all innocent-like, and be "Christine... I'm stuck." That cute brat of mine. At least with this little stunt he doesn't panic, which I'm very happy about. Having owned a horse that you could not tie up, I'm relieved that he is very cool with ropes.
I decided to take him back to the new subdivison again for a walk. Since he hasn't been out much lately, I think he really enjoyed being out. He of course noticed the scary rock again - and he had to stop dead, put his head up, and then bob it up and down to get it into focus, which was fairly amusing to watch! After going up to sniff it we continued on to the top of the hill to check out the new houses. On our way back, Nova developed his 'going home' walk - the one where it only takes you half the time to get back home. This is a good thing, as typically our horses are good walkers, so he can't be slow if he wants to keep up. He did try to jig, but after slowing down and making him yield to me, he settled down and walked nicely beside me. My lessons are sinking in.
March 22, 2006
Nova seemed very spunky today so I exchanged his nylon halter for his rope halter. To practice, I did this like you would put a bridle on - I put the rope over his neck, and took his nylon halter off and then put his rope halter on, and he was very well behaved. He didn't get very upset over the german shepherds, which is a nice improvement. I make the decision to go all the way to the arena, which went well until we reached the deep snow that we had to walk through to get there. He got silly on that section, but thankfully his silly isn't very dangerous, and is often done at the very end of the rope. He does seem to have a good grasp of personal space when he's being goofy or even when he is scared (he has yet to try to plow over me when he is spooking).
Had a near miss in the arena though. There is a chain that is used to close the gate, and I had hooked the lock through the chain, but it must have slipped out, as the gate swung wide open. Of course, this happened when Nova was standing between me and the gate. And of course he had to be looking right at the gate as it did this. Being the curious sort, he started to walk toward it, and I was doing my best to half jog to get around him but not get him excited enough to start trotting himself. Finally I called out, "Nova, no!" and while I have no idea if that is what stopped him or if it was something else, he turned and walked over to me. I was very relieved, and gave him a cookie before slipping past him and darting over to shut the gate. I do know that he probably would have just headed for home, and that if he hadn't taken off I could have walked up and caught him, but I'm still very happy he didn't make it out of the arena.
We played around the now completely secure arena for a bit longer - with Nova basically following me around like a puppy - before we came home. And boy did we come home in a hurry. Going home walk has definitely been established!
March 25, 2006
Today was Nova's first trailer ride since the day we brought him home. We hauled him, Kaila and Su (paint filly) over to my aunt's place. Our current trailer is a converted stock trailer that is a 3-horse angle haul, step up. It's kind of dark, and has a lower ceiling than is ideal, but it's a very safe trailer for them. We put Kaila in first in an effort to encourage Nova and Su to get in easier. Nova was the next to go in and he walked right up and stopped to sniff at the shavings we had put in. He wasn't anxious or scared at all, he just likes to take his time. After giving him a fair shot, to which he just stretched his neck as far into the trailer as he could go without actually stepping in, Mom picked up a front foot and put it onto the trailer floor. He tried to put it back on the ground, but she held onto it so he couldn't. When he realized that, he put it down on the floor and brought his other front leg up as well, followed shortly after with one hind leg. He was given crunchies for each step of progress he made. Finally after some more thought he stepped his other hind leg in and I led him up into the stall beside Kaila. Lots of cookies and praise! I am pleased with how relaxed he was about the whole deal, and I know it will get better (quicker) with time. It was only his third time on a trailer in his life.
As for unloading, I decided to get a start on making him back out, as all of our horses do. Again, he was very relaxed about the whole deal, and backed out nicely. He stopped when I asked, turned and looked out of the trailer, and didn't even panic when his feet came off the back. He did drag his front feet off, and turned into Mom a bit, but that's still ok in my books. I think the best part was how totally cool he was about everything.