I decided to do some equine pilates with Chrome today (can you tell I've been on YouTube again?). :) First I worked on lateral flexion. He really didn't want to flex to his right today. A cold front came through last night and the cold wind had him a bit antsy so I didn't push it.
Next I worked on his hooves. He's picking them up and holding them perfectly. I really need to up the criteria and not sit at this spot too long, but I was really tired this morning and the wind was cold so I just asked him to do it a couple of times.
Then I tried having him follow the target between his front legs to stretch his topline, but everytime the target bumped a leg he was offering to hold it up. He even got me in the hand with his hoof by accident so I gave up on that. I've noticed when he's lifting his hooves he naturally hold his head low so maybe that's enough stretching. It makes me wonder if that's easier to balance with his head down for trimming . . .
Next I worked on having him lift his back. For those of you who may not know you can make a line from the horses hip to his tail head and about halfway rub gently with something hard like a hoof pick (don't hurt them!) on both sides and it will make them arch their back. It's like getting goosed lol. I'm clicking for it so hopefully I'll be able to just tickle him as the cue and not have to use a hoof pick or rock or quarter or whatever. I'm hoping this will strengthen his back and teach him to engage his abdominal muscles. If you're interested in doing this you should check out equine pilates on YouTube. It's really cool.
Edited to add: Here is a YouTube video that shows some stretches. She uses a different method for the back lifts and I think I like it better so I might try it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSia13Fa9EA&feature=related And here is a more advances technique for getting them to flex their spine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=905Fl3fZH38&feature=related
After the back lifts I tried the lateral flexion again and he did much better on his right side. Then I worked on head lowering. For some reason he really hates when I touch his poll. I don't understand it at all but when I think back I realize he's been that way a while. I wonder if it's some sort of stallion thing or if it's a young horse thing. Not sure. He lets me groom him and brush his forelock . . .
So anyway it takes the merest brush of my fingers on his poll to get him to drop his head but unfortunately he just pops his head back up, so I've just been leaving my hand in the air so his head comes back up to it if he raises up. Then I have a horsey head yoyo. After a bit he finally paused with his head down for a second, I clicked and gave a treat. After that he was lowering it and holding it down for a second. I'll work on increasing the duration slowly.
I can tell you as soon as my tax money comes in I'm getting him gelded. I'm getting so tired of his attitude. I want him to be the laid back, relaxed boy he used to be before hormones kicked in. I hope none of this has become habit already. I wish my husband hadn't gotten hurt so we could have done it last year. Sigh. Wow sorry for the tone of that paragraph lol.
As for the gelding I still have to decide what to do about Zeppelin. He's four years old now and I really worry about something going wrong if I geld him. And if something went wrong I wouldn't be able to do anything to help him because I still can't handle him. I wouldn't be able to keep him in a stall because he needs exercise and doesn't know how to lead. So do I wait until I can do these things and geld him then?
I'm slowly making progress with touching him. I didn't get much further today than I did yesterday because it was windy and cold and to tell the honest truth my heart just wasn't in it today. I want to be in bed curled up under the electric blanket. :) I rubbed his forehead, poll, over his eyes, cheeks, ears, and behind his poll about three or four inches down his neck (boy am I glad he's short). So the only progression I've made is a couple more inches down his neck. I guess honestly that's pretty huge, or I'll at least look at it that way. :)
So anyway, let me know what you think of gelding the donkey. I just really don't want anything to happen to him. He isn't doing anything wrong or dangerous that makes it's necessary to geld him now, I just think it would make the taming process so much easier. It's sort of a catch 22. If I can't touch him I can't care for him after surgery the way he needs, but him being intact is slowing down the whole progress a lot!
So sorry for rambling on and on, but I would appreciate everyone's opinions. :) Thanks guys!