Friday, July 9, 2010

An Accident with Sunrise!

Well, this is what I get for following the advice of a Parelli Professional.

A few posts ago, Petra suggested in the comments I try some things with Sunrise. Particularly, if you remember, to lower her head to assist her in accepting the fly spray on her body. I've already got her complete good to the spray, spray bottle, and the shhhhht of the spray.

So, what happened?

Well, rather than making sunrise accept the spray, I accidentally trained her to lower her head when being sprayed! Shhhht, lower head, shhht, lower head, shhht, lower head.

It's horrible! Here I am trying to teach her to relax to the fly spray and bang, there she goes and learns that dropping her head turns off the fly spray. She trained me up good and it only took 5 minutes!

I didn't laugh at her but boy was it hard!

Petra, did I get you?

I would like to thank Lisa, Linda, and Pertra each for their help on this issue. I had been plugging away at it on and off for 2 weeks with no success.

It was really quite incredible how Sun responded to me tonight. Yes, for the first 90 seconds Sun spun, tried to barge through me, and would not lower her head. I kept a constant pressure down but let her act out as she needed. I applied what I've learned through the program so far, and while it was "interesting", I was passively persistent with her, not letting up until I got just the barest of nods out of her.  Each time she tried to get into my space she met some porcupine from an elbow that just happened to be there. My own feeling was safe and my emotions were level. I knew she would react and was prepared for it. Sunrise is a very smart horse and with the first release I can see her getting it. It only took about 2 more minutes before we were to the point where I was totally happy with her. On the other side it was even faster as she did not move her feet much at all! By the time I quit, about ten sprays on her off side the lead was slack in my hand and she was offering her lowered head with each pump of the spray. I will have to rinse and repeat but what an experience in five minutes.

One of the things I noticed was, once she got her mind back, just how sensitive she had become. Two fingers lightly on the lead and a subtle shift down at the knuckle and she lowers her head. Wow. A slightly less than phase one touch of the nose and her foot steps back, the same for her chest. She remained that sensitive the entire night. I even hugged her around the head, she put her head against my chest, hiding her eyes and she backed up with a step, blindfolded! We also did the usual, she is getting good at being ground tied. Picking out feet and after a four attempts I managed to get her to stay while I left to get a squeegee! She even walked into the wash stall with lowered head at the least suggestion, sniffing and lipping at the concrete floor .

Successes:Ten sprays per side without moving and with lowering of head! Walk into the wash stall with a lowered head and sense of curiosity! Stand ground tied while I walked off 20 paces to get the squeegee, stood ground tied while I picked all her hooves. But even with all that the important part was the relationship.
Failures: None, so I stopped!
What I learned: Sometimes you need to push something to get that break through. Sunrise has taught me this on several occasions but I can be dense. With the right "Savvy Arrow" the push becomes relaxation and another way that you have built up your relationship.I wish I could immerse myself into this for three to four weeks, but alas I have to work to live.

A shout out to Petra Christensen a 1* Parelli Professional who gave me a hand over the internet just 'cause!


  1. Isn't it wonderful what can be done when you have the right arrows in your quiver?
    I can be such a direct-line thinker that my immediate, almost visceral, response to my nervous RB TB mare barging into my space is "Get back! Stop! Back up!" And the growl is evident in my voice!
    It takes lots of deep breaths and reminding myself that I am equipped before I pull out the arrow and actually use it. Duh! And 2 minutes may feel like an eternity when you're doing it.. but it's TWO MINUTES. Just have to keep telling myself to "take the time it takes."

    Your patience is inspiring! Congrats on the breakthrough with Sunrise!


  2. I almost got a heart attack when I started reading this blog... In the end I was pleasantly surprised. What a wonderful success! Thank you for sharing... :-)

    Petra Christensen
    1Star Parelli Junior Instructor

  3. :)

    I can be evil. I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist. She's been sprayed with actual fly spray twice more now and can be a little "ansy" with it. If I remind her that I'd like her head lowered and she does.

    She is not entirely in a positive frame of mind about this and I've considered some approach and retreat just with the bottle. Still feels like there is something I could improve in my handling of the situation here.