Monday, February 28, 2011

First Time Wearing a Surcingle!

I bought a surcingle today and was very excited to try it out. I went to get Chrome out on the lease land. He walked right up to me and let me halter him, then we started walking toward the house. He was impatient and excited so he walked really fast and then tried to cut me off. His face actually bumped my nose, so I used my elbow to bump him in the neck. That got his attention and he stayed out of my space.

When we got to the house I decided to tie him to a tree for a while to teach him some patience. At first he was pulling back to test the rope, but never hard enough to damage anything or spook himself. It was funny watching him actually because you could tell he wasn't scared, he was just testing the rope to see if he could get loose. He always stepped forward off the pressure in a second though.

I took some pictures while he tried to tangle himself in the trees (there is a line of pine and cedar in front of my house by the road). Eventually he gave up and chilled out. Then I spent some time grooming him and cleaning his hooves (oops I forgot to work on picking up hooves with clicker). After grooming I got the surcingle out.

Getting tangled in the trees lol.

I let him target it a few times, then rubbed it on his shoulder, then along his back and haunches. I clicked for any signs of relaxation and obviously for standing still with slack in the rope. Then I pulled the surcingle up under his belly, clicked, dropped it and treated. Then I buckled it on the last hole. I slowly moved it up the holes until I got it as small as it would go. Unfortunately I could still stick my hand between his belly and the surcingle, but he'll grow into it.

Asking him to back out of my space (to put slack in the rope).

A treat for targeting the surcingle.
Sorry I look like a hoodlum in the muck boots and toboggan hat. ;)

Touching him with the surcingle for the first time.

Once I had it snug I untied him and led him around. I clicked him for walking in it. His head came up for a second, but he quickly relaxed. We walked up and down the road and I even had him trot several times (which I clicked for since he hasn't officially learned to trot in hand). He didn't seem uncomfortable, spooked or resistant. I was so proud of him!

It was getting late so the pictures were blurry.
This is right after I asked him to smile and was giving him a treat for it. :)

After that I took the surcingle off and worked on head down. This time I let the rope hang on the ground and put my foot on it, sliding it under my foot to control the slack. He quickly realized he had to put his head down and keep it down. I don't understand why he dislikes head lowering so much. Maybe it's because he can be a little high strung or maybe it's his high head/neck set. He does it easily, he just doesn't seem to like it. I don't know but we will keep working on it.

Then I got out his orange cone (which I screwed to a piece of board to make it stand up better). I set it down and let him touch it a few times. He was chewing on it and even picked it up once. I started holding the clicker by his head because he was ignoring it by my side. He FINALLY started paying attention and would turn to me as soon as I clicked.

Then I moved the cone and walked away. He walked to the cone, touched it, I clicked and he walked to me. Then he went back to the cone! By the end I was standing about ten feet from the cone, pointing, saying touch, he'd walk to it, touch it, I would click and he would come to me for his treat! Too cool. Did I mention all of this was done in the driveway again?

For the cone work I'd tied his rope around his neck so it wouldn't drag and we could have some distance between us. I carried the cone to my car and put it up. He followed me. Then I grabbed my new feed scoop (I broke my old one) out of the car and held it up to him. He took it in his mouth and I asked him to follow me. He followed me all the way back to the pasture. He carried it about six or eight yards before he dropped it. I don't think it will be a problem to teach him to carry things. I was so proud of him for following me all the way into the pasture without me ever touching him. Such a good boy!

And wait, it gets even better. I fed them and waited for Zep to finish. He saw my husband and walked to him for a visit. Then I got the target out and he followed me around, touching it for clicks. I did some with me facing him and some with him behind me. He's still leery about walking up behind me. Then I pet his face for clicks. I inched my way up his face and ears. I only got about an inch up each ear, but we will get there.

Then I told him all done and put up his target. He followed me all the way to the feed shed so I clicked. Then I started walking to the pasture gate, fully expecting him to stay with Chrome. He followed me, without a target, at a TROT and stayed within about four feet of me! It was so cool! He followed me all over, trotting a couple of times. It was so cute! I love that he's finally wanting to follow me and be near me. He never follows me all of the way to the gate, but he did today. :)

Below is a video of my putting the surcingle on Chrome for the first time ever. :) It's about seven minutes long and shows me trotting him in hand too. Enjoy!


  1. He's such a big boy! It's good that he is testing the rope without panicking.

  2. What an awesome training session for both of them! What a surprise with Zep. I think that he made a huge transition in his feelings about you. Chrome looks like such a grownup in his surcingle.

  3. Looks like you both had fun!!! Great Job!


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