On Monday I wrote about how I am following the Horsefulness Liberty Training program with Angel. I have been doing this with her for a couple of months, so I thought I would write about how it is going so far.
As I mentioned the previous post, I had been doing the activities of the first 3 modules since I met Angel back in March. The first three modules are Bonding Time, Greet And Go and Greet And Groom.
I have spent a great deal of time just hanging out with Angel, both out in the paddock and bringing her up to the arena. Occasionally we have done other things. For example, sometimes she starts getting antsy with doing nothing, so I will walk with her and do liberty leading practicing starting and stopping. Nothing major, just small things to help her focus.
Before I signed up for the program, I did some focus work with her. This was mostly just working at standing still, focusing on me and not all the ‘rabbits’ around her. This is not a part of the Horsefulness Liberty Program. However I am 100% sure that doing this is how I gained her trust, and through focus work, I was able to get her relax when standing with me. I stopped doing this type of work with her when I started the program. I really wanted to try and stay true to it, however, I am unsure if I will stick 100% to it.
I haven’t done much of anything with Angel over the last month. I still go out and greet her with I am in the paddock. I have brushed her a couple of times when she was up in the stable to get her feet trimmed or whatever. But I haven’t done anything intentional with her, mostly due to lack of time. Last week I took her to the large arena to do some hanging out, and I can see I haven’t been there.
She was reluctant to come with me. She did, as she always does, but I the closer I got to the gate out of the paddock, the more hesitation I could feel in her walk. She spooked slightly when we were walking to the arena and in the arena, she was very unfocused.
Perhaps it was just an off day. But it felt like a huge backward step. She would still come to me, she would walk with me, but then get distracted and seemed to be seeing a lot of rabbits. She would then again, turn to me, looking for me to do something, but on the other hand was also sensitive to any sort of pressure I put on her. She herself couldn’t seem to decide what she wanted out of the situation. She was half with me, a quarter worried about who knows what, and a quarter wanting to be back with the other horses. The biggest thing though was that she did not let down and relax. This is something I have been able to accomplish with her any other time. We have always been able to find a moment to relax. There was none of that this time.
No matter what it was, it was quite obvious that I had checked out a bit over the last month with her. I need to make more time for her, and I am going to do that. I think it will be good that we are moving into the part of the liberty program where we started asking the horse to do something. I think Angel is more than ready for this. However, I think we might need to work on some focus work again as well. We will see.