working with Moon the new pony

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Josh Kennedy

Nov 20, 2023
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Today's lesson went well, I think. I had Moon today, a new medium-size pony. It was more difficult to get him to pick up his feet to clean his hooves. Much more than with Jazzy and Teddy. I at least got the front left one clean--once I realized I had to push back on his leg with my elbow while keeping my hand around the bottom, near his hoof, to get him to unlock his joint and lift his leg up. With his front right hoof though, once I realized I have to hold it and not let go. That was still a bit difficult well a bit moreso because he would swing his leg back and forth really fast and I eventually let go and he put his leg back down. I also learned how to put a chain lead on. The chain lead goes through the cross-ties, over his nose, and onto the ring of the other cross-tie. Then once the chain lead is on and the rope is over the back of his neck, I can then remove the cross-ties and lead him. Leading Moon was different from Teddy and Jazzy. It takes a lot more pressure to get Moon to turn the direction you want him to go in. He has not been worked with in two years though. So along with using my hand to turn his head, I also had to use most of my forearm to push his head, and lean into him with my body, quite hard, to get him to turn. I ran into the sawdust pile once or twice. I was able to get out of it though and keep him going in mostly what was a circle. And with more practice I will get even better at all of this! As I said to Dolores...

Here's what I would have done.
Ask for the foot. At any sign of a slight giving release the ask and pet.
Once you have the leg up, release right away and pet or reward. Rinse and repeat

I sent
I thought about it. Moon, the pony, he seems to be tight. As if he were a person who wants to dance, but it's not confident at all with how to move his body. I think if he were my horse, I would start by just getting him to lift his leg a little bit. and for me to not have to use so much pressure with him in order to get him to unlock his joints. I think I would practice with him, just lifting his leg up a little bit or just getting him to move his leg just a little bit and then rewarding him for that. and then, as he lifts his leg more and more rewarding him each time for that behavior.

I sent
Moon is a very good pony. He just has to learn to loosen up quite a bit. he is very good overall though.

Correct. That is what I tried to say in my response"
Putting on the chain lead was more difficult because he kept moving his head around and pushing his head into me. If at some point I manage to get a mini horse foal to begin training to become a gide animal, would it behave a lot like how Moon was behaving? Or are foals even more energetic than Moon is? A mini foal will be a lot smaller than moon, though, maybe 16 or so inches tall?
You're learning all about the different personalities, Josh. They come in as many different behavior sets as people do. Each varies greatly. Some are stoic and settled, some very confident and bold, some curious and almost troublemakers. And there's no guarantee about what each will become as they grow. With experience, we can help shape them a bit, but I find I have more success when I honor who the personality is to begin with an create my training targets from there. That's why Jasmine could be a therapy pony early on. She's confident and friendly. And why Phillippe the donkey is taking a lot longer to get there. He's far more careful and reactive. But with practice and exposure, he's coming around.
I certainly don't want to discourage you from your goal of training a mini guide horse, but I would encourage you to be very realistic about your experience and goals. I'm a lifetime horse person and at 43 years young, with all my experience teaching horses behaviors like tricks and getting into elevators, I'm not confident I could train a guide pony to be consistent and dependable. That pony would be an exceptional unicorn.
Mini foals are sometimes full grown by their first year, so don't count on it being much smaller. I have a 10 month old colt right now and I usually say he is like having a bottle rocket tied to a lead rope. You have no real idea what direction he is going to move in, but it's likely to be fast and take you by surprise. I would suggest getting one that's at least 2. A 2 year old is still a baby. You have a better idea of adult size, and a better idea of temperament and personality. And hopefully someone has already done the should pick up it's feet, lead safely, not be likely to randomly do a backflip for absolutely no reason, and you should be able to find out what it's like in new situations.
If there is a lead rope attached, I could certainly feel what direction it moves in, when it decides to do so. I don't really have to worry about that, yet. I'm still taking lessons, learning the basics and then I have to save money. I did much better cleaning Moon's hooves today. I feel quite comfortable with that now. When it comes to horses, including minis and ponies, I seem to learn very quickly. And Moon was kicking out at me yesterday because I did not have a good grip on his hoof, and I was holding his leg too far forward. I figured that out today.

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