The Oakley Diaries 51 - March Madness

The month of March was one of... winter is over... not it's not... yes, finally.... no, it's back.... now it's clear... no, still more snow...make up your mind!!
So annoying.
Eager plans to get busy training were stopped cold (yeah, pun intended) by the vagaries of weather. Kind of hard to work on a rope when confronted with freezing whiteout conditions and whipping winds. Of course, on the days I wasn't planning to train, because of my day job, the weather was warm and enticing. Then I get my days off and... while one can ride in a storm, if not exactly fun, one cannot train in a storm. And we had quite a few storms: high winds, freezing rain, all sorts of impediments. The ice has all melted, the sand in the round pen was dry enough to work on, but I only had two days when I was able to start groundwork.

There is a good aphorism that goes, "if you really want something you will find a way, if not, you'll find excuses." I hope that not wanting to work in a snowstorm doesn't qualify as an excuse. Cato the Younger might say it is, but I lack that degree of fanaticism about anything.

On such days, I can always bring Oakley inside and give him a good grooming, which I did, but the other horse I'm now working with panics in cross-ties. So, before I can ever do any such thing with her, I must teach her not to fear cross-ties and, of course, that setup for that has to be outside. When she panics, I have to have enough space for her to jump around without killing either of us and the barn aisle just doesn't fit that description, does it?

Again, another aphorism, "Find a starting point, however far from the goal, and work from there, however long it takes."

This is where I am glad I learned so much of how to work with horses over these years. I now feel completely confident that, no matter how difficult it looks, I can handle it. I will succeed, because I know how to go about teaching this and how to go about desensitizing her, how to reward her, how to proceed. Right now success looks like just hanging the cross ties on her, not done up, just tucked into her halter, and then taking them off after 5 seconds, which is a big improvement from 0 seconds, but still quite far from the 20 minutes needed for grooming. It'll take a while, but 5 seconds is an improvement on 0 seconds and a panic attack. So if it takes all summer, I'll work on this all summer, a little bit every day.

As April turns to May, the days of snow and ice will cease, as they do every year, and the horses will get their exercise, and so shall I.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on April 9, 2022 at 10:55am

You are showing THE prime requirement for a horse trainer.


Good work B. G.!

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