Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Educating Yalla!, worming time

Last year, I had Yalla! tested for worms and her stool sample came up negative. Naturally, I assumed that all my horses are negative for worms since Yalla! was the most likely candidate for any infestation, being young. My horses don't travel anywhere and they have no interaction with outside horses so I really don't expect them to have any worm infestation now either. But, Annie and Yalla! are on the thin side and all my horses have big bellies, although that's probably just from hay. Also, when they get the chance, they all like to scratch their butts up against the juniper trees, so I decided to worm all the horses this morning, just in case they are wormy. Unfortunately, they had a very different idea about it.

I went to sweet old Nadia first. She took it like a trooper with just a little coaxing and a hand grip on her fly mask. Scout balked (his usual self), but again, I dosed him with just a firm hold on his fly mask and a little backing up, on his part. However, Annie saw what was coming and hauled a#s, taking off and staying a safe distance away. I couldn't get near her! I decided to save her for later. So, with halter in hand, I targeted Yalla!

I caught her easily but as I put the knotted rope halter on her I could see the whites of her eyes. She threw her head high and kept backing away from me. I could see her considering rearing, but to her credit, she never did. She did, however, run around me, around and around, in both directions. Scout, who had raised the red flag with his behavior, was now standing placidly around us, like a bratty little kid, just getting in the way. Yalla! was backing into him and he was moving out of the way just enough and then coming back over. Maybe he was sorry for the ruckus he had caused. I hope so. But the damage was done. Yalla! was completely terrified. She moved forward when she could, backed when she couldn't, and looked thoroughly wild scared. She refused to allow the 'monster' I had in my hand 'hurt' her. I couldn't get the white tube of paste anywhere near her head. I kept talking to her, telling her that there was no way I was going to hurt her. Of course, I worried that she was going to hurt me too, with my already bad ankle.

She settled down a little, licking and chewing some, as I played with her mane, scratching her neck the way she likes it, but she would not give in and she continued to fight me. I firmly decided that I had as much time as it was going to take, all day if need be, for her to get wormed, and to accept it easily too. A few weeks ago, I had the vet come out and give all the horses their shots. At the same time she checked over the alpaca's eye for possible infection (flies) and gave them shots too. She was quick with the shots but when she tried to look at Yalla!s teeth, Yalla! said "no" with her reaction and the vet said "never mind, she's too young to have any teeth problems anyway." Looking back, I realize this set her up for the negative behavior today. Annie had her teeth floated at that time so I imagine that is why she skedaddled away so quickly today.

I was making very little progress and progressively worrying about what kind of horse she was turning in to. How was I ever going to ride this wild beast if she was going to get all ballistic over such a small thing? Then I remembered a book I had just finished, a western novel of the Hannah and the Horseman series, where the horse whisperer blows into the Mustang stallion's nostrils and 'small talks' to it after just catching it from the wild. Then the horse is immediately ridden without even any fight. I thought, 'yeah, sure!' But today, I thought, 'heck, I'm already doing the small talk. And I often blow in Yalla!s nose. She even appears to like it'. After all, what harm could it do? I was getting nowhere as it was. I even debated about calling up a horse trainer to help me at another time but I didn't think that was going to be very successful either. After all, last year I had him work with the horses all summer to learn to trailer load and Yalla! acted rather the same way, fighting for all she was worth. We did eventually get her loaded several times but I'm not sure how much of the lesson stuck with her. And when it comes to bathing, she gets all dancey and reary then, too. I need to come up with a good solution, and quickly, because she's only getting bigger and stronger and more wild, as time goes by and she gets older.

I breathed into her nostrils and she stretched her nose to me for more. Very soon, I could see her relaxing and dropping her head. Then I brought up the worming paste tube and rubbed the hard plastic tube all over her face, up to her ears, and along her neck. I fingered her lips and opened both sides of her mouth. I put the tube in one side, took a deep breath, and squeezed the paste right in. She never even moved. Afterwards, halterless, she came up to me and started chewing on the end of the tube until she wouldn't even let it go with her teeth; she was having so much fun playing with it. How many horses will do that after being wormed?

The demon horse was gone and my sweet little Yalla! was back, at least until the next training episode. I am seeing her personality as a panic first (mom's trait) and then, think it through (dad's trait), and finally, hopefully, complete acceptance (yay!!). Maybe the breathing into her nostrils really works? I'm going to have to try it when she gets her next bath. I have read that, as well as horses exchanging greetings, it's a way to exercise dominance over another horse. Maybe this is what I need to do to gain power and esteem in her eyes as the Alpha. What do you think about blowing into the nostrils to subdue the horse? Old wives tale or truth? Do you have any other training suggestions?

Oh, yeah, Annie is getting hers in the morning. I'm going to halter her before she gets any different ideas and runs off again. I think her teeth float last month kind of soured her to "face" work. Maybe I'll blow into her nostrils too. I'll let ya know how it goes...


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Interesting post. I blow into our horses' noses all the time. I never thought of it as a way of subduing them, but as a way of relating since they do that with each other. If it works, go for it. It appears that Yallah went from one side of her brain - the flight side - to the other - the reasoning side. So, anything you can do to get her into the reasoning side it will sure help.

Good stuff.


Sydney said...

I can't believe the vet said Yalla! was too young to have teeth problems!!! That's often when things to undetected and by the time they are mature the damage is done and they have a crooked bite or permanent chewing problems. I would most certainly get a second opinion by an equine dentist about that.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Maybe she meant that she most likely didn't need to have her teeth floated since she was inspecting their teeth for that. Or maybe she was just being lazy since it was the last call of the day and she didn't want to fight with Yalla! I don't know. I do agree with you however, like children, they do need to get checked over.

Breathe said...

I read about blowing in a horses nostrils just recently somewhere, but I was skeptical. I'm definitely trying this.

Yalla! Sounds like a handful, but I'll bet you'll bring her around.

Shirley said...

I think that when you blow into your horses nostrils, it releases your own negative energy and is calming to the human too; and a calm human usually calms the horse. We may not realize that we are holding on to negative energy, but when you approach a horse with a definite picture in you mind knowing that what you are about to do may not be easy, they sure do pick up on it.
Glad it worked for you.

achieve1dream said...

That's interesting. I'm along the lines of what Shirley said. Sometimes we adopt an aggressive, pursuing posture when our horses are resisting us which just makes them want to get away even more. I think blowing if their nostrils is sort of like a relaxing sigh. It give you both a minute to stop, relax and think for a minute. I'm sure when you blew in her nostrils and she stopped she realized there was nothing to be afraid of. It's really interesting how well it worked. I'll be interested to know if it works for Annie.

One of the best ways for me to get Chrome to chill when he's being a brat is to ignore him lol. He's such an attention hog that he can't stand it hehe.