Friday, July 13, 2012

A Different Sort of Challenge

A friend, H, turned me on to a training concept called TTouch which incorporates specific massage of the skin and training tools to correct behavior and increase trust. Since trust is a key part of what I am trying to build and since I can't ride until his feet are fixed, we are going to try the TTouch method. I ordered the book off the interwebs on Thursday and it should be delivered on Saturday. In the meantime, I am using some of the training tools they recommend from the website to work Ashke from the ground.

I have to confess that I am at my wit's end with Ashke and the biting. He is snatching at treats, nipping at my clothes and closed his teeth on my upper arm. My response is to whack him on the shoulder, which isn't very effective. He has responded to my getting loud and angry with him, but last night when I used an angry voice and stomped my foot at him, he freaked. He must have reared over and over again ten or so times. I tried to get him calmed down, but he didn't respond until I changed my voice and tone to a soothing sound and told him to be easy. He stopped immediately and tried to make amends. I am sure from his behavior he really didn't know why I was angry, just that I was. I've yelled at him before - used a stern voice and told him no - and his response has never been that extreme. He was shivering and shaking after the rearing session and streaming sweat while standing there. It took him awhile to calm down. He had gotten past this issue and had stopped nipping altogether. Something about the colic has destroyed his sense of safety at the barn. And yet, he did everything I asked him to do in the playground. Poor confused boy.

The TTouch method says that horses who are biting are trying to communicate with their owners and instead of getting angry or upset, the owner should try to find out why. The trainer recommends increasing the amount of mouth contact the owner is having with the horse. There are several touch techniques which will help with increasing trust and a feeling of safety. Horses lip each other all the time and it is one of the few movements the horse has to connect with the rider. They can't use their feet.

I will try the massage in the morning. And some additional obstacles at the barn. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, here is some video of our games last night. Please ignore me and concentrate on the beautiful white horse.

Stepping over for a Peppermint

Nothing is scary after a peppermint


Hammock part one

Hammock part deux

And part three

Saturday morning I am meeting N and her horse Callie at the stable at nine for an adventure in playground making. We will have to take it down when we are done, but it should be fun for a while. I am planning on getting hoola hoops and a large bright blue tarp, maybe a tractor tire and hopefully a pile of pick-up sticks, plus the cavaletti for our horses to work through. It should be fun. I hope to have pictures to share.

Wish me luck that I have discovered a cause and a cure for the vicious biting fiend.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like he responded to the playground with interest (at least as long as peppermints were involved.)