Trying to get a spooky horse to accept a tarp, is no easy endeavor. Yesterdays episode reminded me of filling a jar with marbles, accidentally spilling them on a greasy kitchen floor, then trying to pick them all up in one clean sweep. It’s almost impossible! The first time I approached her, you would have thought I, had sprinkled her with buckshot. She catapulted across the exercise pen like a deer in flight. She landed about half way across the pen, turned and faced me, then backed up twenty feet before she came to a screeching halt. I didn’t know a horse could run backwards that fast. Usually when you ask her to back up, she has nothing more than a snail’s pace. I’ve got your number now, Jewels. I can work with that.
I let her collect her thoughts for a few minutes. I, really, needed the rest. All that action was exhausting to watch. She wouldn’t turn her back on me after that. Her eyes lit up like the high beams on a hummer. They pierced right through me. Her nostrils we’re puffing and shooting fire across the pen. I walked towards her. Her ears were pricked forward. Her sides were moving in and out like billows. She snorted and pawed the ground. Jewels acted as though she was going to charge my hoola-hoop space. That’s not allowed, Missy! I calmly approached her, asked her to back out of my space, and let her stand patiently. Jewels finally lowered her head, licked her lips and cocked a hind foot. She became calm and remained so, until I, asked her to move those feet. Forwards, backwards, left and right was the drill.
Jewels soon began to soften, listen quietly, and lower her head. She watched my every move. Shortly there after, I ground tied her to the middle of the pen. I left her standing while I, spread the tarp over the ground on the other side. She was fixated on the tarp, but she stood quietly. I stood next to the tarp. Asking her to come towards me with a hand cue, she approached nervously. Her demeanor was very different from just minutes before. Jewels walked about half way over to the tarp and stood still. Lowering her head to the ground, she carefully navigated her next move. Surprisingly, she took baby steps towards the tarp and landed only a couple of feet next to it. I was so proud of her. Lowering her head even further, she snorted and investigated in thoroughly. I stepped on to the tarp, it made a crackling noise and she came off the ground like a jack rabbit.
Jewels came back down to earth quickly, did a one-eighty turn and faced the other direction. I still had a hold of the rope, so I, asked her to mover her feet, forwards, backwards, left and right. She quickly complied. I lunged her close to the tarp, changing directions every double go around. It wasn’t long before she got the message. All I was asking her to do, was move over the ground softly, next to the tarp. Jewels finally took her first step on to the tarp. Lowering her head, and with one giant leap forward, she landed in the middle of the deep blue sea. I immediately asked her to “whoa”! She stood stalk still. I let her regain her composure standing dead center. Her eyes were a bit glossed over, but her head was on the ground. She must have stood there blowing for 10 minutes. When Jewels caught her breath, I, asked her to step off and stand next to it. After all said and done, Jewels took the whole process like a champ.
I lunged her slowly next to the tarp and back on to it, for a few minutes more. She took the task willingly. “Great job, Jewels!”. Our schooling was over for the day. I tied her up to the hitching post and left her until after dinner. I wanted her to be able to relax and soak up the experience. She had never stood so quietly.