If you obsessively stalk my blog, it's possible that you remember the time Courage had a bad day, all because he was completely incapable of stepping over an obstacle that was 12 inches high. Never mind that he doesn't bat an eye when he jumps twice that height--it is completely impossible to be led over a tiny obstacle.
I kept meaning to work on that at home, but it's so ridiculously stupid that I just put it off. I mean, his ground manners are great. I can lead him with just body language and he has no problems going forward. I kept meaning to lunge him over some little stuff and gradually work up to leading him over it (yeah, how backwards is that?), but I just didn't make the time.
And then I wanted to clip him. The BO warned me that closing the roll-down front door of the barn can be pretty spooky for horses already inside the barn, so I closed it before I got him out of the field and then just led him in through a stall.
His cute little face was right by my shoulder as I walked into the stall and then all of a sudden, it wasn't.
I'm standing in the stall. He's still out in the run. There is a HUGE AND TERRIFYING OBSTACLE between us.
Yes, he had to step over a 6" tall board to get into the stall.
Now, we can argue that there is a light/dark change* and it's a new environment and WHATVER, but the fact is that he lives two stalls down in the EXACT SAME BARN. Yeah, his stall is just a step up without a little board to step over, but I'm not buying it.
Of course, I'm dealing with a very athletic and expressive horse. I can't ask the lovely couple taking care of their 26 year old retiree to come over and kick my horse in the rear because if he were to express himself, I wouldn't want them getting hurt. The BO is in the house and very, very sick, so I really don't want to call her either.
It's just me and C-rage. Not going in a stall.
Great. I cannot be both behind him for encouragement and in front of him for guidance. I do know that he would do almost anything for a cookie. I grab a whole hoodie pocket full of cookies and try bribery. I think all four of his feet got within about 12 inches of each other and his whole neck was stretched into the stall, but he didn't care even try to step in.
I tried clucking and pulling. I tried giving him time. I made it very clear that I wanted him in with me. I opened the front stall door so it wasn't claustrophobic. I established that he can stretch his neck out a very long way and that he was trying very hard, but he just. wouldn't. do. it.
Finally, I leaned out of the stall, picked up his left front leg, and set it inside the stall with me. Then I backed up and held out a cookie.
|The impossible horse trap|
The little blazed face was suspiciously missing.
Yep. There was another board to step over.
This time, I got him over in about a minute. He was very suspicious of the hoof lifting technique, since the last time I did that, he some how ended up levitating into a magical horse trap.
That said, he really, really wanted the cookies.
He had to think about it, but he finally made the step into the aisle.
Of course, it remains to be seen if he would have gone in at all if he knew that I was about to clip stars on his butt. ;-)
*Also there was no light/dark change when he first pulled this stunt. We were outside on a sunny day with safe footing.