Yesterday I worked with Sugar on yielding the hindquarters. While I was walking her to the arena, another equestrian (Mrs. Fennwick) was passing by me with her horse Peppy. She had a bunch of empty plastic milk containers tied together with most likely rocks inside. You can imagine the sound it would make. She was using that to desensitize Peppy.
Sugar freaked out at the sight and sound of it. She pulled back all of a sudden and reared, giving me a terrible rope burn. I didn't want to let go but I didn't want to pull back either. If I let go of the rope she might run off. I'm not afraid of her running off but scared she might step on her rope and trip, especially since it was her lunge line (much longer rope for lunging). If I pulled back she'll feel trapped and probably freak out even more, which can lead to kicking and just going crazy until she felt safer.
The best option is to let the rope loose so she can pull out some distance, which is what I did. I expect I held the rope a little too tight that it gave me a pretty bad sting of a rope burn (that hurt!). Of course she had to make a show of it so everyone around got to watch. I got her to calm down and finally got her to the arena where I felt safer with her.
For the first part of it I had half her attention, the other half was toward the milk containers. I'm thinking of making the same kind of containers to desensitize her with.
I started with backing her up. She did very well with that!
The next thing I practiced with her was desensitizing to a plastic bag:
She's so used to this I could put the bag over her head or anywhere on her and walk her around.
I also did neck bending. Sugar does this so well! When I tried this on Ruby she was very stiff. I've even done with on Sugar's back and got the same good results.
And last of all 'Yielding the Hindquarters' which I explained in my last post. This is my first time ever trying this on her but she's done this before by a professional. I've watched the DVD on that and understand much more than I did before. So she did very well on this.
I did try to lunge her with the lunge line but that's where the trouble started. It took so much to get her from a trot to a run. I ended up taking her to the round pen because it's easier there. She started proving that wrong! At first she flared up at the sight of a bunch of deer and ran around the pen back and forth. That was probably the only time she ran willingly...
When I started lunging she acted as if she's never done it before. Thankfully it wasn't the hottest day but not very cool either. She was in a bad mood the whole time and would shake her head or buck every time I asked for a run. Boy did she kick up a lot of dust! I couldn't get one good turn from her and I couldn't understand why, I've never had such a hard time lunging before. I'll rewatch the round penning DVD to find out what the problem is and try again. I really hated to end badly but at least she followed me in a circle to the middle where we spent awhile together quietly. I did not know how much my mood can change when something as bad was that happens. I think it got worse towards the end of the lunging because I couldn't keep from getting mad at her. Well we both got each other upset that I had to stop. I didn't even feel like rubbing her when we stood still in the middle of the round pen. But I did after awhile and that made us both feel better.
I'm actually looking forward to trying it again with a smile this time, and hopefully a smiling horse as well.