It has been 10 months since Jasper arrived on that long haul from Alberta. It’s been a very long journey but it has paid off. Sometimes I think we have gotten absolutely nowhere, other times I am amazed how far we have come! For this reason, I thought it would be prudent to make note of all of the things we have accomplished together thus far.At this point in time, I work with Jasper 3 times a week, and a lesson once a week with the owner of the ranch. Michelle has helped me inmmensely with bringing Jasper along.
10 months ago, Jasper could barely be caught, he would usually run away. Following is a list of what Jasper can now do after many months of patient gentle ground training:
- Easily caught and haltered. Usually comes up to the gate looking for a treat. Lowers his head to put the halter on. (In the past he would stick his head up like a giraffe and I would have to reach up to halter him. Now he gives to pressure and lowers his head.)
- Stands still for grooming. I usually brush him in the paddock untied. He will stand pretty motionless for brushing and application of the fly spray. Even lets me brush his mane and tail now. In the past he thought the brushes were evil devices and would run away. He also hated the smell of the fly spray and would back up from it. I think he has finally realized fly spray = no flies.
- Leading. This is still an area that needs some work but has greatly improved from the beginning. Jasper can be lead anywhere around the property, even down the road. He will back up if he gets too ahead. He still zigzags and tries to eat, we are working on that. He used to stop dead and refuse to move any further, especially when approaching the willow tree as he likes to stop and munch on some branches. This has been happening less and less as I back him up whenever he refuses to go forward.
- Tying Up. Jasper will stand quietly when tied. I can groom, him brush, him, work on his feet
- Moving off of pressure. When we first started working with Jasper he had no idea of moving off of pressure, in fact quite the opposite. I would put pressure on his hindquarter to move off of it, slowly increasing it, and he would just stand there and lean on me. Eventually, I would get a muscle twitch. Then eventually a leg. Then finally his hind end. Thankfully, he responds to a lighter touch now and responds much more quickly than he used to.Jasper can now move off of pressure, just from pointing or gently waving the stick at the part of the body I want to move off. He will disengage his hindquarters both directions. Moving his front end around has been a challenge to say the least. He still does not like the stick waving anywhere near his face so I try to be very subtle as he will very quickly become irritated. His confidence has been gaining in this area, I just have to be very careful in applying pressure.
- Driving/Lunging – When we first started to get Jasper to move around in a circle on a line, he was very tense and defensive about it. He did not want to be told where to go, and he would decide when he stopped! It took a lot of gentle coaxing and a number of hissy fits to get him to come around. We take things very slow. Now Jasper is being lunged both directions with a saddle on his back.
- Farrier – Jasper would take an hour to do because he would snatch his hoof away from Linda, the barefoot trimmer. I worked endlessly on him lifting his leg and keeping it there for longer and longer periods of time. Also clicker training to put his leg on a step and keep it there.
A collection of Jasper pics can be found on flickr here