I've only handled Moses 4 times; including the first time I met him at the property across the street. Every time he's seemed pretty docile, and easy to handle. He lives in the mare motels, and just two gates away is a large turn out that I've been working him in. He gets turned out for about 10min while I clean his stall, then gets worked. He never leaves his neighbor's side.
Well Tuesday (last time I was out there) his co-owner turned out her horse Kay, his neighbor. Kay went about 100ft away to the arena, which is pretty visually obstructed from his turn out. I was holding him, and he had been pretty attentive to me, but as soon as Kay left, his focus left me. He called out to her, and wouldn't tune in to me. Although Moses didn't move his feet, his focus completely shifted.
It makes me nervous. I know it's a mustang thing, he's just looking for his herd. I'm sure the trauma that these horses experience during a round up is severe. But will Moses ever look to me as his herd? Will I ever be seen as the lead? Will my presence be enough support for him?
Here is my current plan for Moses, and the techniques I plan on using. I am VERY open to suggestions, as I've never dealt with a mustang before. I have lots of experience with rescues, and young horses, but this mustang seems to be something else all together.
Picking Up His Hind Feet
- Since he kicks out, I plan on lifting them with a rope. When he gives, I give. This is what I used with Roxy and she does great now.
Perfect Ground Manners
- Moses leads, but I want him to be a super star on the ground. I want him to promptly whoa, back, and turn at just visual pressure. I plan on using a crop as an extension of visual and verbal commands, eventually lessening the pressure to just visual. I'll get some video of me working with him on the ground to better display this method.
-I want him to be ready for a saddle, so I want to desensitize him to a rope, saddle pad, and bit. This is done through exposing him to these objects. Also I think a loud plastic trash bag would be a good thing for Moses to see too. I'd like to get him to give to the bit from the ground too. Also I've found that desensitizing a horse teaches them to respect you, and to enjoy your company. I'm not sure if he's even spookish yet, but just showing him these objects, is valuable time with my big guy.
I figure this list will keep us busy until he gets in good health and weight to be ridden and worked safely. Then I plan to re-saddle break him, pony him on Roxy to get him used to me above him, and eventually get up there for that first ride. I've never been nervous about a first ride before, but this mustang hype has me scared.
Do you have any suggestions, methods, advice, or important lessons that you think Moses should learn? Have you ever worked with a mustang?