JANUARY 25, 2007:
This pretty 2-year-old filly/mare arrived January 25, 2007. She was very agitated - stomped and jumped around in the trailer while waiting to be unloaded. Once unloaded, she ran around and whinnied and tossed her head at the people, and seemed generally very upset. Jason said he's only run into a few like this, but she definitely has an attitude.

All night she ran around and whinnied, especially when the other horses disappeared from her sight.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT HER PAST: Red Filly was born in the BLM holding facility. She was adopted at some point in her life, but for whatever reason the adoption was unsuccessful and BLM took her back. She then lived in a foster care situation, where she was a problem escape artist, until coming to our place.

So Red Filly has just doesn't know a whole lot yet, and she seems to be used to getting her way by throwing a tantrum.

She enjoys being petted, on her terms when she feels like it, but she has no respect for people, and lacks the usual social skills, respect for space, natural response to move away from pressure, etc. - behaviors in which range-born wild horses excel! So we have a lot to teach her!

Red Filly promises to be an interesting challenge!





All day the filly remained too agitated to work with, but by evening she had calmed down, and a visiting friend and I went over to her pen, stood there chatting, and pretty soon she came up to stand next to us. We began offering her some contact, and pretty soon she was asking us to pet her all over, and to scratch her butt.  

JANUARY 27: Since last night had gone so well, I went into her pen this morning, thinking I would build on yesterday evening's good contact. I started by asking her to move a little - I asked only for gentle movement, but I got instead a sudden explosion of jumping, rearing, bucking, and swirling around to double-barrel kick at me.
Then she would wheel around and charge at me.

I could tell that it was mostly bluff, but in such small quarters (20 x 20 foot pen) and slippery footing (from recent rains) I have to admit I was scared and it really was not safe. I know that the last thing that happens is the first thing the horse remembers, so I hung in long enough to get one positive change - about half a lap of positive forward movement - and then I got out of there.

(No pix taken)

Mike's turn: Mike and I talked it over and we decided that this gal was definitely a candidate for the bamboo pole, as we really didn't want to challenge her or allow her a chance to hurt us. So in the afternoon, Mike went in with the bamboo pole.
She started off kicking and bucking.

But Mike kept the pole on her topline.

 Bad behavior was not going to make it go away

Eventually she realized that she was not going to be able to scare the pole away. And she also realized that the pole was not hurting her. She calmed down, and was able to stand still and enjoy a good pole massage.

It really didn't take long at all for her to calm down and start looking over to Mike, as though she might like to connect.

Letting down: The Dog Whisperer would call this "Calm-Submissive."

Offering her to sniff Mike's hand

This is all her idea, not being forced on her
A good place to stop for the first session.
March 13, 2007 Update: What a transformation! Because of the winter rains and resulting mud, we were not able to work with Red Filly much at first. She was so explosive that it just wasn't safe to risk getting a boot stuck in the mud while she was charging around. But once we had a chance, it only took two rather intense sessions where she kicked and panicked, and the light bulb went off in her head: "Oh is that all you wanted? I can do that!"
By mid-February, Red Filly was "letting down" and beginning to trust and relax
We got her tight web halter off on February 17:

Hopefully the crease on her nose will go away with time.

By February 21, she could stand perfectly still and relaxed to have a regular halter and lead rope put on and taken off. She started to learn to lead and ground drive during this week, also.
In early March, we started to groom her, which she needed badly.

And Mike began to pick up her feet. First he looped a rope around one foot and taught her to "lead" when that foot felt a pull. Then he began to work his hand down her leg and to lift a foot.

The rope work paid off big time in on March 11: she got cast under the pipe panels. If that had happened earlier, she probably would have broken her legs in struggle. But she had had enough rope work on her legs by that time, that our daughter - who  was home alone at the time - was able to keep her calm and to pull her free.

March 10, first time trailer loading:

This was unbelievable, but true: Mike had been practicing driving her through the gate. I had the video camera out to film his first session with trailer loading. We expected a long, intense session. Instead, she just walked right in! It was not a fluke - we repeated it many times, and each time she walked right in.

So, Mike decided to try something else: a shower! It was a warm spring day, so he walked her down to the barn and gave her a bath, while she grazed calmly.

Red Filly is turning out to be a great little horse!
In the last week or two before the Turlock adoption, we polished Red Filly's skills:

Shoulder away (note front foot crossing over in front of the stationary foot)

Lifting feet for cleaning

Standing still for grooming


Standing Tied

Waiting patiently and then exiting gate calmly - not charging her way through it.

Standing tied

Back-ups: Above - backup from withers

Left: Back up from chest muscle

Hindquarter disengagement
Finally, with very mixed feelings (pride in accomplishment, but sadness at giving up the red filly) we took her to the Turlock adoption on March 23-24, 2007. She found a great new home, and is now "Lucy:"

Good-Bye and Good Luck, Lucy!


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