A Major Milestone for Casper & A Special Moment with Sharlie...
Hello Everyone! What beautiful weather! :)
Lets start with Casper today, for once.
1 year anniversary since I was able to catch Casper for the very first time.
Well we have finally (another) achieved a major milestone. The Friendly Game. Well I think I can say that we have come to the point where I can finally throw Porcupine & Driving Game into the mix.
Casper and I have been struggling with Friendly Game since Day 1. Being an extreme RBI it is natural for him to be untrusting at first, especially after what he has been through. When we first started playing in January, he was absolutely terrified of halters & strings/ropes. So think of his reaction when he saw the rope halter! It took me two months of introducing him to a wide variety of things before he could trust me enough to be able to sniff the rope halter, and know I wasn't going to attack him and halter him.
I introduced him to hay strings, hair bands, loose threads as thinner strings. Then I also took old pieces of hose, different types of leadropes, twine, and that rope used for tying plants to a frame so they grow straight...
2 months later, in mid March 2010, I walked into the field with Sharlie's rope halter in my hand and I sat down. It was the 2nd week since Casper had started walking up to me when he saw me instead of running away or staying where he was. I sat under a tree and just sang to myself.
(I had only met Kara for the first time a few weeks before, which is a shame because it was those first months with Casper where my self presence was growing at a rapid rate. I was almost like what Kara is today. I would sing to the horses, I would lie down and look into the sky, trusting the horses not to step on me. I would observe them, I would follow them. I would copy them. There were several times that the herd of 8 horses let me become Horse #9. They sometimes still think of me that way.)
Casper and me. HIS HEAD LOOKS HUGE! (But I promise its not)
Anyway. I was singing and humming to myself when Casper came over and sniffed me all over. He found the halter by my feet and spooked and trotted about 15 yards away. I ignored it. I asked him "What on earth are you spooking at? I don't see anything?" I pretended there was no halter there and after 20 minutes he came back over and sniffed me and the halter again. I stayed calm, still humming. Thats when something amazing happened. He picked up the rope halter with his lips and layed it in my lap, then cautiously tried to slip his nose into it. I slowly helped him into it and tied it before resuming my humming. He was tense so I did nothing. Then he relaxed and we walked to the gate. I clipped on the leadrope and we walked out into the world for the first time in 6 months (for him) together.
In the snow...
It took weeks for me to finally introduce him to the carrot stick. And it had to be on the ground without the string...just lying there. He gave it a quick sniff and then ran back to me, standing several yards away. I left it for a few days then introduced him to the savvy string. Same reaction.
It took several months before he would tolerate either, but always seperatly. Then these last few months, since about November, he may or may not tolerate them together. In fact, it was the only thing we had a problem with. I had walked him across tarps, bounced balls beside him, and even flapped a plastic bag. Only the carrot stick & string was left. It shows just how deeply scarred he is by whips and crops.
This week was our breakthrough. Maybe it was the weather, maybe I was more at peace with myself. Something was different. When I played with him he was much calmer and more in tune with me...or maybe I was more in tune with him....which ever which way that works.
I started tossing the leadrope over his back, trying my hardest to stay in neutral. (Thank you Emily!) When he stayed relaxed and calm (took me by surprise a little) I started stroking him with the carrot stick. (string wound up around it) When he was still calm and relaxed then, I decided to try just gently dropping the savvy string on his other side and then keep rubbing him with the carrot stick.
To summarize, I was able to gently throw the savvy string over his back with the carrot stick 6 times on his left and 4 times with his right. (in a row!)
I take this as a milestone passed, a goal met, a checkbox checked. The important thing is that I continue Friendly Game with him constantly. There will always be room for improvement because he is a RBI.
I am just glad because I was starting to worry we wouldn't be past the 7 games in time for Kara's. But I know that the other 6 games- excluding Sideways- is much more advanced than Friendly Game.
My baby is growing up! ;)
Now for Sharlie's turn!!
We have been doing Hill Therapy continuously and even though it hasn't exactly been getting better, its not getting worse. I'm considering moving doing it another hill to see if it will work better, like it did last time.
Sharlie and I have been moving more. We have been going for short jogs and playing a form of the cutting game. We also have been playing with her trotting in a circle around me while I walk beside her with my arm around her neck.
I experienced a very special moment with Sharlie this week when we were playing the cutting game and she became so in tune with me, we began to dance. It went from me using the carrot stick to dancing back and forth with the slightest shift of weight. :)
I am still drafting up the questions I have for Kathy Baar, I will post them with the answers when I get back.
Love you guys!
****If you ever wonder about the beginning of my journey, its all on here! Click here to start!