Yesterday my main goal was to tie Reason for the first time. Does he tie? Is he patient at the tie rack? Does he have any vices while tying? These are all basic questions I asked myself. It’s important to know if he ties and if he does so calmly. Some horses may tie willingly without a second thought, others might pull back or be nervous nellies. After knowing Reason, I figured he was not one of those pull-backers. But I wasn’t sure how he would react to being tied in general.
After a nice walk down to the barn, I slipped the rope through the tie-ring at the tie rack. No reaction. So I tightened my hold on the rope (in case of having the pull back problem, I just slipped the rope through the ring, not tying it so I could allow it to slip through and give slack). There was still no reaction, so after a little pull, release action a couple of times, I tied a quick-release knot and sat down at the picnic bench only a couple feet away. At first he walked in a circle, as if he was on a hot walker. Not nervously, just like he thought that was what he was supposed to do. The tie post is like this; concrete pad, ring attached to the top of the post which is on a swivel. So as Reason moved, the thing would swivel, inviting him to follow. After my talking to him (whoa) and walking over to ask him to stand, he did.
Ok so, tying isn’t an issue.
Next was ground manners. I decided to take Reason up and down in front of the barn, inside the barn (a notoriously ‘scary’ place to be for him) and work on his reponse and focus on me. That was a success. I like to lead Reason on a long, loose lead to encourage him to relax and yesterday was one of the first times he actually walked quietly with his head down behind me. Most of the time he walks next to me on alert. And this happened in the barn isle-way! It was nice to see that he was more at ease in there.
The low, loose following Reason, continued as we walked back up the path-way to his paddock. I couldn’t ask for better of him, so I decided to put him away and give him his yummies up there instead of in his stall that night. When we arrived at the paddock, he walked to the opposite side of his paddock, where I ask him to wait until he’s invited to the feeder to eat the yums. Suddenly Reason became freaked (it wasn’t a sudden flip-out, but quickly escalated) and began running towards me. I thought he was challenging me and being silly after something sparked him. There was a horse that had just walked past, another young horse got silly in the arena not too far away, dogs barking etc. I immediately reacted by making him stay at that end of the paddock. Re-enforcing my position. But he kept being rowdy. There were a couple times where he wanted so badly to come up to me. I didn’t understand it at that moment, but reviewing what happened, it made sense that he was scared and wanted to be with me. Reason wasn’t challenging or being silly, he was genuinely scared about something and wanted to hang with his ‘lead mare,’ me for protection. Matt came in after I tried to stop him (still thinking he was testing) to help calm the boy down and we stood with him for a while once we caught him. He calmed right down once he was with us.
It was a mis-understanding on my part. I felt bad because it would have been a great time to gain his trust more and help his confidence. It was my mistake. After being around Ink, it would have been like him to rush me, using the moment of spook, turn it into ‘time to be silly! Yeehaw!’ and he’d then try to run me out of the area so he could get to his grain. I’m learning Reason is much less manipulative lol, but for the last 4 years, I was used to a much different OTTB. Reason is much more innocent, he’s much more human-oriented than Ink was. Ink was the intimidator, give an inch, he’d take a foot. Reason is also MUCH MUCH more sensitive, possibly the polar opposite of Ink. He responds to the lightest touch and learns SO quickly. He’s also much more attuned to his handler.
Oh I should mention, Reason hasn’t been INTO the wash-rack yet. But on our way back to his paddock, I introduced him to the scary bathing box (he was shying from the manure bucket by it). I stood inside, and he walked right in. I turned the hose on and began spraying the floor to see what his reactio would be. He stood paralell to the water, looking at it, curious. But he kind of kept his head behind me, like a little kid. It was cute.
It was another learning moment for me. But I really felt positive about the rest of the time. This evening, I’ll be doing much the same, with a little more exposure to the wash rack.