Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How do you achieve a goal?

Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer. ~Author Unknown

When I started on this journey with Argo last May, I had thoughts of how it should progress. My main goal has always been to be able to safely halter and lead Argo in a year. That was truly my only goal. Granted, I was not sure exactly how I would get there, but I read a lot and asked even more questions and drew upon the experiences I have had as well as experiences others have had when it has come to Mustangs. I know there are a few out there who have taken on the task of gentling a mustang of Argo's age, but there are many more who for whatever reason, have chose not to try to gentle their older Mustangs. Needless to say, there is no book out there for "How to gentle your Senior Mustang". If there were I would be the first in line.

I read some of the blogs from people who are participating in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, and I am just awed as to how quickly they are able to handle their mustangs. Now granted, they are much younger mustangs, but I am still in awe. I wonder though how solid those horses are at 100 days when the head for the competition. I know with my domestic horses, I would never be able to think them solid enough at 100 days, but that's just me. Good Luck to all and stay safe.

Some friends of mine thankfully think more about my well being than I do J and have given me some suggestions on working on the trust department with Argo. First, "Get off the damn' ground!" I know, I know, I was compromising. This morning went much better. He still does not trust the camp chair, so I am going to throw my cheapness to the wind and park the camp chair in the corner of his shed. This morning, I sat on a bucket to start (again a compromise). Argo likes buckets, they bring food. Then after he was comfortable with that, we progressed to standing. Well, after 3-4 minutes of Argo him- hawing and walking back and forth, he decided he could try to eat from his feed pan with me holding the feed pan AND me standing. What a sight. Argo had the "Just Spook It" look going on. All four feet splayed as wide as he could get them, just in case he needed to instantly teleport somewhere else. I at first had to look down and away from him for him to eat, and then in my "baby talk" fashion I told him how brave he was, and what a good boy he was. Nut house here I come. I then began to turn my head to face him just a little bit and he kept his head in the feed pan. Argo still had all four feet splayed out for an easy exit, but still had his head buried in the feed pan. That was until the scary Mountian Lion Barn Cats came strolling in to see what was going on. If you're unfamiliar with the story you must read it. Argo didn't realize the cats were there until they were already milling around my legs. "Just Spook It" came back to life and he took a jump backwards and snorted at the cats that were totally oblivious to Argo having a minor heart attack. They proceeded to use his newly constructed shed as their personal scratching post. Argo cautiously came back to finish his meal keeping one eye on the cats and the other on his feed. I am very pleased. Of course it does not take much to thrill me these days.

Some other advice I have received and will try out tonight is to hold the feed bucket on my hip. By having it in front of me, I am not letting Argo be comfortable. Horses, when they greet each other, do so at the shoulder, so by having the pan on my hip, I am offering a more comfortable position for Argo. I'm inviting him in as to taking an aggressive stance by having it in front of me. Once he takes a bite, then I will retreat a step and invite him to come to me again and then hopefully he will come and take another bite. Makes sense to me, and it is what I do with my Quarter Horse babies. I need to remind myself to go in baby steps with Argo. He might be a full grown horse, but he is wild and he had a lot of years to learn to trust his instincts. I need to remember that. The Post It note will be attached to my forehead tonight and thank you Karen and Melissa for the advice and keeping me safe. I think I will achieve my one and only goal, but I'm not sure if it will happen in a year.

So I ask this question; how do you measure your goals? What steps do you take in achieving them? Do you write them down or are they in your head? Do you get upset when you do not feel the timeline you have set is achievable, or do you just keep going at the pace you're going and throw the timeline out the window?


Linda Reznicek said...

I have a little yearling--so not in the same league with the big, old boy you have. (And, I'm fascinated to read you blog and watch this journey with Argo) I had planned on taking it slow with her until the farrier came and said I had no time to a week to get her gentle enough for him to get in there and start trimming her club hoof. At that time we didn't know if it was a man-made or genetic problem, but the hope was to bring the heel down slowly with every two week trims. That was my one goal, and it was easy to measure. Today it looks like it was a man-made problem because her hooves are coming around, and the farrier is happy with the progress. If you can get under a yearling Mustang's feet and nip and file, everything else seems quite easy, if you know what I mean. :)

SkyBar Farm said...

I totally agree Linda. i have not even thought of working on Argo's feet yet, were just not there at this point. His back feet are wearing very well, his fronts need work, so since I know it will be some time till we can get his feet trimmed, we are working on laying down lava rock mixed in with gravel and patio stones around where his water tub is, to help wear his fronts down. Good Luck! I enjoy reading about Beautiful.

Mustang Heritage said...

throw away your watcher and planner, it happens when it happens :-)
just make small goals for your self per day like feeding him from a bucket at my feet or whatever and build up fro there. your doing great with him BTW!

Linda Reznicek said...

Some friends of mine use the "track" system--the fence is placed around the pasture like a track and water and food is put all along the track--then they spread rock and other things--so the goal is to have the horses walking and wearing down foot all day.

Holly said...

I do have a definite plan and time table in mind when I get a new training subject. I work toward everyday goals.

For instance, with Mojo being so wary of hands near or on his face, I began with hand feeding so that he still had to touch me, but it was on his terms. Once he was comfortable enough that he no longer backed away, he had to let me touch his halter before I would give him his next handful, then we worked toward more sensitive areas of his face (his chin was a real touch-me-not area). I also use a clicker to mark the correct behavior.

I don't get frustrated with progress that either gets derailed or is slow because it happens when it happens and most training subjects are very obvious when they can move on. But honestly, it's not that slow usually. Sometimes it takes a few days longer but not months or anything.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I've just started reading about Argo and your journey with him. I'm looking forward to reading more about how he is progressing with his trust issues.
My daughter has rehabbed a lot of mistreated animals over the years, but never a wild mustang. So I'm sure there are different issues to deal with. One thing I can say is that even though goals were set for each horse. It took as long as it took. There is no time line on getting a horse to trust you and it's pretty much done in baby steps. we've never rushed a horse in any kind of training, even horses that were not abused.

SkyBar Farm said...

Mustang Heritage~ Yep, I have thrown away the planner. It will happen when it happpens. Thanks for the encouraging words.

Linda ~ Good idea on the Track system.

Holly~ good advice. I have always been interested in learning more about clicker training.

Grey Horse Matters~ I hope your enjoying the reading. I have found that mistreated/ abused horses, which I have also worked with have almost seemed easier in some aspects than Argo. Granted, he really has no baggage, but the trust issues are very similar as to that of an abused horse.