A little tarp work

By Patty Wilber

I got a six-year-old gelding in that is a little shy/jumpy and seems to be missing some bells and whistles.  He has been ridden with no big problems by several people (though there were problems with one person).

He has a big white patch on his girth line from and old (big!) cinch sore, which may well explain the problem that one person had…

His owner and I decided I would treat him like a colt start, just to make sure his basics are solid, help him through his shyness, and make sure the one problem really was a result of the cinch sore.

I like to use the Blue Tarp on colt starts because it seems to work well for desensitization in general and to prepare horses for slickers, saddle bags, and manties if (when, for mine) they get packed.

I do not find it to be a great idea to toss a tarp up and stand back.  Generally, it goes best to make sure the horse is comfortable touching the tarp, hearing the tarp crinkle and having the tarp touch him.

Once he is ok with that, I will put the tarp over the withers and secure it with saddle strings and then, with the horse on a lunge line, ask the horse to move. I do this in the round pen so that we are in a confined space.

When this horse was ready to have the tarp on, he looked relaxed walking and trotting, so I turned him loose.  At the lope, he surprised me and had a bit of a panic attack. He bolted hard around the pen.  I should have kept him on line for the initial loping, but I misjudged. I am not a fan of putting a horse in a spot where he feels the need to panic. Sigh.

I have a round pen made of panels and it is not out of the range of possible outcomes that a scared horse might try to jump out. I stood in the middle and softened my body, breathed deeply and slowly and slumped my shoulders a little.  In only a few rounds, he saw my body position and stopped running. A light bulb seemed to go on! “hm.  she seems relaxed.” (Yes, I was faking it.) “and i am not dead yet…maybe i am over reacting…”

Then we went back on line and worked up to free lunging again.  Because of the light bulb moment, it did not take too long.

This horse is fun to work with because each day he seems more relaxed around me, and he loves to have his face rubbed and hear what a good boy he is.  He drops his head and licks his lips.

After a horse is going well with the tarp over the withers, I move it to the middle of the saddle, and then to the back of the saddle, as shown here. I will also use a rope around the butt, as some horses are sensitive to stuff back there until they get used to it. Here the horse has a quiet tail, an even-looking stride, and an alert but not worried expression.  Good boy.

Another thing that I find fun to do with horses that are not initially fans of a tarp, is to drag the tarp and have the horse follow me and the tarp.  In most cases, because the tarp is moving away, the horse gains courage and will get closer and closer until usually they step on the it.  I get a kick out of that every time and the horses usually seem quite proud of themselves, as well.

Once he stepped on the tarp I was dragging, he was willing to walk right over with all four feet! So cool!

My round pen is in a 1/2 acre pen where Gette, LT and Rip live. Gette was watching the going’s on.  When I brought the tarp back to the tacking area, Gette had to prove that she got along quite well with tarps, thankyouverymuch.

I can count on Gette to be “involved” in everything!

When Penny was two (she is 16 now), I was in the round pen working with two horses that were both big chickens about the tarp (among other things).  She watched them struggle for a while and then she started banging on the round pen gate.  What the heck.  I let her in.  She marched directly to the tarp and walked right over it. She, like Gette, is a good fit around here!

Cancer Treatment Update.  I met with the radiologist May the 4th (be with you).  She gave me the scoop on the radiation effects and maybe was a little bit of a downer, suggesting that I would become tired, my skin would be sore, my boob would be sore etc., and this would last for while after radiation was complete.  I did ok (not perfect, but pretty good) with the hard chemo.  This is supposed to be easier and I feel really good right now, so I am not really up for thinking about feeling exhausted and sore again. I told her I was planning to avoid those side effects and that most of my friends had not had that experience.  She told me not to jinx myself.  Argh!

My oncologist came by as I was making my appointment (May 12th) for the pre radiation planning visit and I started tearing up. I have made it this far without being all emotional in public, so that was annoying of me, I thought.  She was empathetic and said that I had made it through the hard part and this next part really will be easier.  The radiologist did say that people that are active generally have milder effects, so there is that.

In the pre-radiation planning visit, I get to have my first -tiny- tattoos which are markers for the radiology techs to allow them to align the beam the same way every time, and they make some sort of form that will help me lie in exactly the same place for each treatment.

Radiation starts May 22, and will be weekdays, for four weeks with weekends and holidays off.  So, I will be done June 16th.  Perfect, because Heidi and Lucy are going to Appaloosa Youth World June 27th to July 2 to do the ranch stuff and boxing (Appaloosa does not have down the fence classes for youth) so I will be able to go!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
This entry was posted in The Write Horse and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.