Today Angel and I walked to the arena at the back of the property. It has mostly dried up from all the rain. I took off her halter and stepped back. She launched herself like a rocket - dead run as fast as she could go. Her stubby, chewed-off tail sprayed over her back like a bad hair piece at the wrong angle. She bolted like a bat out of hell. Did I mention that she ran very, very fast?
I stood back and watched in amazement. My first thought was, "She could turn out to be a lot of horse!" I felt like I was watching Nick all over again. The more food she gets in her and the more weight she gains, the more she looks like an Arabian. She did a beautiful, elevated floating trot around the arena several times. After her explosion had subsided, I walked up to her. She was breathing so hard I was worried about her. It took her about 20 minutes to stop panting! Poor girl, she had a strong desire to run but she is in such poor aerobic condition her body couldn't do what her mind said! I understood that completely!
I put the halter back on her and we walked around and around the arena, with me hoping she wasn't going to die from a heart attack. We walked forwards and backwards and right and left. She is very attentive and very tuned in and honestly, very light on the lead rope (as long as you do not restrain her head!). She learned how to back up a new way today (the wiggle-rope back up). She already knew how to back in response to a pull on the lead rope, but today she learned a new way to back up. She was happy to drop her head almost all the way to the ground. She let me massage her poll and her forehead with her head down.
I feel a little bit limited in working with her, because I have been taught to start a horse (or re-start a horse) by working them in a round pen or on a halter rope. This involves making the horse move (at a trot or canter). Because I want Angel to gain weight and she is in such poor physical condition, I don't want to do that with her yet. So I am trying some things with her out-of-sequence and I don't know if they will work or not.
I have been looking at the wonderful purple pedastal that Garry Stauber made for me about seven years ago. It is located outside Nick's paddock and Nick and the mini's and I used to play around on it. Nick looked very proud of himself when he would stand on the pedastal. Garry was very proud of himself the day he rode Nick up onto the pedastal, bareback! I've been looking at it and wondering how long I should wait before I try it with Angel.
Well, I decided there was no reason to wait. The worst thing that could happen was probably nothing. I *think* I know enough about working with a horse on the pedastal to keep myself in a safe position and not get hurt. I knew I wasn't going to push her at all, so I was confident I could keep Angel comfortable and safe. So why not?
So after she was finally breathing at a normal rate, I pulled the purple pedastal into a safe working place and introduced Angel to it. She was very, very cute. Now, whenever she is confused and doesn't understand what I am asking, she drops her head and waits. If I don't praise her right away, she drops her head lower and waits. I ALWAYS praise her when she is standing calmly with her head down!
Today she did not really understand that I wanted her to put her front feet up on the purple wooden box! She did smell it and several times lifted a front foot, so I could see she was thinking about stepping up. We really don't have enough good ground communication yet to really justify doing this with her, but I figured it wouldn't hurt and she might figure it out.
We ended the day with her standing with her front feet up against the pedastal and her head and neck over the pedastal, dropping lower and lower, until her chin was almost resting on it. I just kept praising her and she kept dropping her head. She is a very smart horse. I say one week and she will have figured it out. It's a little tricky, because I am being so cautious to go slowly and not put any pressure on her. But I think in about one week I will have a photo of Angel on the pedastal. Stay tuned!