He boogered up his front legs on the rope/halter, but not badly; unfortunately, he’s wrenched his back, and is walking funny behind. I can feel a vertebra that seems out of place about 2 forward from his tail.
Now, I know this horse has issues, but I was pretty traumatized by this myself! I’ve never seen a look on a horse’s face like he was when he was fighting the rope. I kept up his routine, gradually got him used to me touching him again (this must be what it’s like with a mustang…), and stewed.
I’ve used the TTEAM work on other horses that I’ve owned, and that’s what I’m doing with Merlin. He’s really come to enjoy my forelock slides (grab the forelock and slide your fingers down it to the tip). I decided to look online to see if there was a TTouch practitioner in my area, and there is!! Shelly is in Creswell, and we have an appointment for her to come see and work with Merlin and me on the 19th. We talked for over an hour – she’s worked with quite a few OTTB’s and agrees that he’s been traumatized and abused. She also agrees that getting on him is not going to happen anytime soon, and invited me down to her stable to ride! I’m looking forward to meeting her – she seems to be around my age, and as a bonus, she teaches dressage! What a gift!
Meanwhile, over the weekend, I worked with him some more – he will stand for some rubbing and scratches, but then walks away to think about it. I let him go – he always comes back for more. I messed with his program by moving the hay feeder into the barn (the pigs got moved outside – topic for another blog) so that I wouldn’t waste hay in the rain (they don’t like it if it’s damp). Since he’s very distrustful of enclosed spaces, he wasn’t sure he wanted to come in to the new “dining room” – and stood outside for quite a bit. He finally did come in, and ate his grain, but was looking over his shoulder alot, like he wasn’t sure about being in that more enclosed half of the barn. When he was done with his grain, he took a couple of bites of hay from that side, and decided that he’d had enough. He walked around the other side (where it’s completely open), and kicked the alpacas out.
So, I’ve learned the following:
• I’m going to learn a lot about patience working with Merlin.
• I’m not going to catch him in the barn to help alleviate its scariness.
• I’m probably the first one in his life other than his dam who treats him nicely.
I was reading a book this weekend (She Flies Without Wings, by Mary D. Midkiff) – basically her memoir of working with horses and developing her own self-worth, but interspersed are some really great quotes. This one is my favorite, found on page 240:
My horse with a mane made of short rainbows.
My horse with ears of round corn.
My horse with eyes made of big stars.
My horse with a head made of mixed waters.
My horse with teeth made of white shell.
The long rainbow is in his mouth for a bridle
And with it I guide him.
When my horse neighs
Different colored horses follow.
When my horse neighs
Different colored sheep follow.
I am wealthy because of him.
Before me peaceful
Behind me peaceful
Under me peaceful
Over me peaceful –
Peaceful voice when he neighs.
I am everlasting and peaceful
I stand for my horse.
Traditional Navajo Song
I’m standing for this horse – no one else has and he makes me whole.