Playing With a Rope

Venice is now able (mostly) to cope with a lunge whip flapping over her back and neck, and around her legs and belly. And also with being rubbed, tapped, and scratched with a parelli stick. Today I brought a 22 foot rope in with me, and after doing some stuff that she was used to with the lunge whip, I picked up the rope and started flipping it around. She reacted pretty strongly to that at first, but settled after a while. Next I tossed it towards her without touching her. Again, she reacted pretty strongly. But eventually I was able to toss it over her back and neck, and then flip it forwards and backwards while she stood.

After the terrified look left her face, I managed to flip most of the rope over her withers, so that quite a lot of it was lying on the ground on the other side of her. I moved into her space and she backed away. I picked up the end on the ground, so I had both ends in my right hand (I can’t use my left because of the elbow, so I’m a bit clumsy with all this unfortunately), and the rope around the base of her neck. I expected to have to drop it again when she felt it connected to me and panicked. But she actually didn’t react at all. She was backed into a corner of the stall, so I pulled lightly to see what would happen. She took a step forward. I immediately released and let her back into the corner again. We played yo-yo games with the rope and that went amazingly well. She’ll only come one or two steps towards me, but at least she does it, and with quite light rope pressure.

After working on this for quite a while, I tried moving in towards her shoulder to see if I could touch her. But although I did manage a couple of fleeting touches, she then had a major meltdown and flew backwards, crashing headlong into the stall wall. She was okay though, and I just held on to the ends of the rope and waited for her to settle.

We went back to simple giving to the rope for the rest of the session, and I got her to sort of turn around the stall in a circle. It was very halting, but she is definitely going to be light and responsive to work with. Assuming of course that I can ever actually lay my hands on her without her taking flight.

When I finally put down the rope, she sneaked up behind me again and touched me a few times. Yesterday, she did the same to Jen while she was cleaning Venice’s stall. She is very curious about people and really wants to be friendly. She’s just overwhelmed by contact.

Breaking Through to the Little Mare

Finally, FINALLY, Venice has come out of her shell a tiny bit. This evening, after a ton of gentle advance and retreat, Dressy started interfering (as she regularly does – a bit possessive, that mare!) over the stall wall. She likes to put her head in between Venice and I, blocking my view with her big black head, and glaring at poor Venice.

So I turned and pushed Dressy’s head back over the wall and Venice sneaked up behind me and sniffed my elbow. I looked over my shoulder and she backed off. So I turned away again and gave Dressy a lecture. Which really emboldened Venice. Eventually she examined most of my back, my left arm, my hair, my ear (hard not to giggle when horses do that… between the tickly whiskers and the snuffling!) and even the side of my face.

I was so excited that it was hard to stay still and ignore her. But she continued exploring me for a good five minutes. I still can’t put my hands on her in any way, or move too close to her. But this is still a big step forward!