There are two wash racks in the barn for cross tying and tacking up your horse. Some people use their stall but eventually Dani won't have that option since she'll be on pasture board full time. I need to get her familiar with the wash rack and with the cross ties. So I'll just break it down into baby steps to keep her comfortable and able to learn that this is NOT a monster.
The first day, Tuesday, I showed her the wash rack, she balked at it. Her head flew up and she backed into the aisle, pulling on the lead rope. I stood calm and pulled on and off on the lead rope and then gave her all the slack in the world as soon as she took a step forward.
I stood there with the mare, her sniffing the entrance to the horse eating wash rack, the white hole of death, and me letting her take her time in learning what this new thing was. She backed up again and I did the same thing with the lead rope, rewarding her with slack once her interest returned calmly to the area. We then walked past it several times, going up onto the matt and off. We stayed at the edge only. I had her stand facing the wash rack, two feet barely in the area and calmly stood there rubbing her chest and talking softly. My leg was cocked and I postured myself to convey the message "Ain't no thang". She did good!
That was enough for the day. She's still very excited about this new place and I don't want to put a lot of pressure and training work with her just yet, I want to make sure she is more settled. In the evenings it gets quite loud, lots of people and horses coming and going. It's good for her to get used to this atmosphere even though she'll be on pasture. Already people are commenting that she's sooo cute and very talkative. The daughter of the facilities owner said her boyfriend had seen Dani being hand walked by me and stated "That's the kind of horse I want". LOL. She's special that's for sure!
The next day when I visited her I walked her about the facility again and then out in the fields near the entrance. She enjoyed watching horses working on combinations in the arena while we stood and she grazed.
Once we got back to the barn I walked her over to an open wash rack. She sniffed and stepped in a little ways. I stood there relaxed again, leg cocked. Then I moved inwards one step. The mare made two steps after me. I stroked her and praised her. Eventually her head was almost to the back wall. She was sniffing and looking about. I rubbed her and talked softly to her. Then I turned her around and stopped her where she would stand for grooming eventually, praise and rubs....we just hung out for a few moments and then exited into the aisle again. We did this a couple more times each time she seemed braver. It was awesome! I thought this would take more time to even get her in the wash rack but I'm still going to go slowly. Cross ties are not something to take lightly, she needs to be trained properly and slowly.
Thursday I had a great time with her in the wash rack. She walked right in, I turned her around and stopped her. We stood for a minute or so, I stroked her and we watched a group of people in a stall across the aisle and the groom sweeping the aisle way....there were also dogs wandering about. It wasn't calm and quiet. She was sooo good. We walked out into the aisle, they into the other wash rack and stood again. Lots of praise. We walked out and back again, this time she balked slightly, just a slight raised head and resisted walking forward. I kept the pressure on the rope and released it as soon as she moved forwards release the pressure. She did fine after that and walked into the wash rack. We did it several more times, each time I stood with her and praised her and rubbed her chest.
A few times at later dates we've had some issues with her balking but with insistence and release of pressure she has eventually come into the wash rack. I need to spend a good solid amount of time working on her with this issue.
At last a time has come up! I went out Sunday later in the afternoon, the barn was mildly busy. I groomed Dani and then worked with her in the wash racks. We went in and out into the rack, I turned her around and had her stand. I wiggled a lot of the implements that were in the area, banged the cross ties on the walls and played around with the hoses. Dani stood calmly looking at me and cocking her ear. I was quite happy. There have been times before where she was obviously very nervous. She still balked and planted her feet a couple times but with a little encouragement she moved into the stall with not much more coaxing. After what I would say was 30 to 45 minutes we ended our little teaching.
Today I went up for a short time to see Dani and get her blanket adjusted, we have colder weather coming in and she may need it some nights coming up. I've been home sick the past two days, trying to fend off a sore throat and stuffy nose etc. I have a newborn nephew I'm trying to go fly and see the end of this week so it's been all Vitamin C and zinc lozenges for me. So it was nice to see Dani, I've missed seeing her because of this cold thing and trying to get better.
When I went to get Dani she was grazing next to one of the bay mares, not sure if it was the boss mare since the two bays look similar to me. Dani had some weeds tangled in her mane but it wasn't too bad. I brought her into the stable and then directly into the wash rack. What a good girl she was. I cross tied her and even when I walked away to get her blanket down the way she stood pretty well. She moved to watch me but wasn't being silly or anything. She bobbed her head a few times throughout the grooming and blanketing but she just seemed to be figuring out the cross ties.
Dani certainly needs more exposure to the wash rack and cross ties and of course to all the activity of the stable but each day I feel she learns more that this place is okay and that she will be okay.