Thursday, 4 December 2014

Box training

This week we have kick started box training with a vengeance! After a stressy visit in his own stable on the one day we did last week, I've done three evenings working on getting Rio more comfortable in his surroundings. 

Control scenario:
Hesitant to walk into barn, coaxed in
Eats two mouthfuls of food, with stable door closed, then stresses
Encourage rest of food be eaten
Two sloppy stress poos
A lot of fidgeting, barges and won't stand still for any length of time
Stands at door, backs up and starts sizing up to jump the door twice
When leading out, anxious but does stand when asked at exit of stable & barn

Hesitant to walk into barn, but walks himself in after a moment
Investigates a few of the stables along the way
Eats food more happily, still looking around - stable door left open
No poos
Fidgeting, barges, but stands still for a few seconds with encouragement
When leading out, stands nicely when asked at the exit of stable & barn
Three attempts - mostly successful

Stubborn walking into barn
Another horse is present tonight in the stable diagonally opposite
Eats food, with a few glances around - stable door left open
Fidgeting, barging to get out of stable to see other horse several times
Backs up when asked, on one occasion backing up three horse lengths
Snatches one mouthful of hay from haynet at back of stable
One regular poo
When leading out, stands nicely when asked at exit of stable & barn
Two attempts - partly successful. Much more barging through stable exit

Walked into barn after sniffing the entrance for approx 20 seconds
Walks himself into stable behind me without hesitation
Eats food, with a few glances around - stable door left open
Fidgets, barging out of stable, less frequently than yesterday
Stands for 20-30 seconds after being very testing and barging out of stable to barn exit
In this instance, raising my voice to establish control worked well
No poos
When leading out, for most part, stands nicely at exit of stable & barn
Four attempts - one awful (the runner!), the others mostly successful

It sounds crazy to reference poos, but Rio does poo a lot when stressed, so for me, this is a perfect indicator of his insecurities. I decided to keep the stable door open so that he can see that he's not there as a punishment, and that it doesn't have to be a scary place to be. With the door open, I'm hoping that soon he will realise it's easier to simply stay inside his stable, where he can enjoy dinner and hay, and then we can start moving on to closing it! The only thing I wish is that I had somewhere to put my two storage trunks - there's still plenty of room with them both in there, but he did manage to belt the one closest to the door into the second one last night with a hind leg when he swung around. No damage to him or the box, but it would be one less thing to worry about.

Anyway, after last night's rather more stressful learning curve, when I turned him out, Rio and I had a little play at liberty in the field. It's something I've not really done for a while, and I really don't know why. I stood quietly at the barn for a couple of minutes before walking him down last night, in order to let me re-collect, and not let my frustrations get the better of me. Playing at liberty, I totally forgot those frustrations and really enjoyed my boy. He's just such a sweetheart. We walked, trotted, and I even goaded him into some lovely bouncy canter in the darkness, and we had lots of cuddles. We actually did a few steps backwards, with just a light tap on his chest as a cue!

This evening, he had the night off from box training, and had his dinner in the safety of his paddock. Once again, we played at liberty for a while; the highlight being me jumping sideways to the left and right whilst he faced me, and him mirroring me. I love his Welshy ways! This has just made me more determined that Winter will not ruin my time with him. He never ceases to amaze me, and he lifts the darkest of moods in minutes. 

Ride / play safe x