Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gone Exploring

On this morning's walk, Bombay had a big spook backwards while walking up the driveway.  I had been looking at the ground trying to figure out what made some prints in the rocks, so it took me a minute to figure out what his problem was.  It turned out that a neighbor was fast-walking up the street and had suddenly popped into view.  I said hello to the man and then Bombay and I followed him up the street and out onto the trails, but only a short ways, because I know this neighbor likes to be alone.  I just wanted Bombay to follow the person who scared him to make him feel more confident, kind of like following a shaking, plastic bag.

He had one more big spook at I don't know what, and that time he jumped into my 3-foot circle of doom, so I had to lunge him around me in half circles to remind him of my personal space and to tell him to keep his attention on me.  He was good the rest of the way out.  I thought I had traveled every trail in the 2-square mile patch of desert across from my house, but we discovered a new one today that contained two marked graves and one unmarked grave for animals.  I don't know if they were wild animals that died in the desert or someone's pets.

We stood on a cliff a while and watched the world go by.  Bombay was very interested in that.

On the way back we had to traverse two arroyos, which took some fancy footwork and teamwork so that we didn't step on each other's toes.  When the houses came into view, he kept looking away from me to try to figure out where our house was, so I started doing all kinds of surprising things to keep his attention on me.  I pretended to trip and stumble, I made growling and howling noises, I jumped violently, I hopped like a bunny, I skipped, I did silly walks like in my favorite Monty Python script.  Bombay was thoroughly entertained, but not scared.  So, I did the most unexpected thing I could think of:  I sat on the ground.

Here we had been walking, walking, walking, and suddenly I just decided to park my rear right there in the middle of the trail.  He stopped and stood next to me and didn't move a muscle.  I did get up pretty quick, though, because I knew it was only a matter of time before something busted out of the brush and spooked him on top of me.  I wasn't that confident that he would stay out of my space.

As we were headed back to the house, I stopped him several times so that I could stretch my muscles, practice having him lower his head, and pick up each of his hooves to check for rocks.  He was good and didn't walk off without me.  When the house was directly in front of us, I stopped him and just waited for him to walk off.  He turned his head around and picked up the lead rope with his mouth to tell me that he wanted to keep walking, but I ignored him and kept standing.  He didn't move a muscle, so I couldn't correct him.  He remembered his lesson from the previous day.

So, we headed across the street to the house and I saw that the trash had been picked up.  I stopped him and closed the lid to the trash can, and his eyes got all big, but he handled it.  So, I decided to have him walk beside me while I rolled the empty trash bin over the gravel to the garage.  He walked sideways and faced it, showing his alarm over this unfamiliar object and the loud noise it made, but he didn't panic.  He did try getting ahead of it, which I knew would probably lead to him bolting, so I kept shaking the lead rope to bring him back beside me.  He was relieved when I finally parked the thing by the garage.

Last week there is no way he would have walked beside a rolling trash can.  In fact, he would spook if he just saw the trash can from a distance, so I always had to bring it in off the end of the driveway before taking him on walks or I'd never get him past it out onto the trails.  I'm seeing such dramatic improvements in him over such a short period of time thanks to my new horse trainer.


Cheryl Ann said...

That's a lot of progress! :-)

Laura said...

Wow! You guys are making such great progress! :-D I'm really happy that you are able to get Bombay out on walks and some rides in the arena. This new trainer really seems to be helping.

appydoesdressage said...

So happy for you, you can now start enjoying Bombay again! You have been waiting for this for years, congrats on your remarkable progress!

Jeni said...

"I'm seeing such dramatic improvements in him over such a short period of time thanks to my new horse trainer." ... and YOUR confidence!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

And thanks to your confidence, hard work and perseverance, too!

And always remember that it was in you all the time. Sometimes we just require a little help and encouragement to get it to come out so we can move forward.

Way to go!


gowestferalwoman said...

I think she gave you some great tools/advice to work with, and with consistent application, you two have moved away from the trusting friendship category and are moving into the trusting family one :)...

hows your relationship with the others you have while this is going on? Has the herd dynamics changed at all?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

gowestferalwoman - My husband noticed today that there is a lot of jealousy when I pick one horse to take on the trails. The two who are left behind seem to be more upset about me not picking them than they are about me taking their buddy away. Gabbrielle expressed her displeasure at me by trying to bite me the other day, and she got into big trouble for that. Now when I walk toward her, she backs out of my way. The pecking order is still the same.

achieve1dream said...

Yay I'm so excited for you!!! You both have made so much progress. I'm so happy for you. :D