Hello again!

After much research yesterday, I found some resources and articles by Clinton Anderson, outlining what to do for lunging for respect, and I went to the barn last night armed with my refreshed knowledge to see what I could do.

I went into the paddock, and he didn't pay too much attention to me. I put the halter on him, and brought him into the barn. When I first bring him in, that's when he usually gets a carrot or two. I've stopped all treats until I can get him to work for me, not just the treats. When he figured out he wasn't getting any, he wasn't too happy about it, and began walking around the barn, and backing up away from me. (Sidenote - I had never previously had to crosstie him to groom or saddle, so I have been trying to get him to stand in one spot under his own guidance.) I put him in the crossties, and he wasn't too happy about that either.

I must confess, I'm getting a little discouraged. He seems to have lost whatever affection or sense of leadership he had for me, and seems to not care what I say or do at all. I don't know if it's simply a case of our honeymoon period ending, and now that he realizes I'm not going anywhere, he doesn't have to impress me with what a good boy he can be.

He has a new bridle and bit, and a new rope halter and lunge line, so before we headed out into the arena, I wanted to fit him for both. He didn't take the bit very well, but after a few minutes of head tossing he seemed to settle a little while I fitted the bridle. I took it off, and he promptly pulled back away from me.

I talk to him, the whole time I am around him, to continue to try and reassure him. So I talk away to him, and he seems to eye me somewhat suspiciously. I put the rope halter on him, fitted it, and brought him down to the arena.

I followed the steps I had written down for myself, which I will post if anyone is reading this and wants to see them.

He lunged better than he ever has, from the beginning. He caught on to me pretty quickly, and began backing up, or following me by pivoting on his hind legs. One of the things I always used to do is stop everything and start again. This time, I held on, kept up the pressure and the twirling of the end of the rope towards the middle of his neck, and walking toward the girth. When he figured out I wasn't messing around. He came forward and went in the direction I pointed.

It wasn't always pretty, and it definitely wasn't ever perfect, but he did what I asked, even if it was only eventually that he did it. Next time I am going to use my carrot stick to keep him going - I am hitting myself with the end of the rope! :)

I love everything about Apache - his eyes, his demeanour, his attitude, and even his difficultness. He has taught me more in the last two and a half months about patience and anger management than I have learned in all of my 33 years.

I'm going back up on Wednesday, so I am hoping he hasn't forgotten. I also intend to find some fun things for him to get him thinking. I miss seeing and hearing him lick and chew, it's been rare these days.

I'm not giving up on him, even though it seems he has given up on me ever teaching him anything he can't outwit me at. :)

I'll post on Thursday about how Wednesady worked out. Happy Riding!

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on November 24, 2009 at 11:37am
Hi Jennifer,
I've found that horses can change their personalities when the seasons change. It can be like you have a whole new horse, one that has never been trained! All progress disappears, cooperation dissolves, and there is an ATTITUDE to deal with. I think that with different temperatures, as well as with different states of the horse's physical fitness, that different parts of the horse's brain are operative. The rider must train this new personality all over again, and also must bond with this new personality. Then come spring-time, and you have to do it all over again. After a few years MOST of the different parts of the horse's brain will be trained and then it will not be an issue.
Don't despair, don't give up. This is normal.

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