At our last show, Shyloh had decided for herself that trees may be the home to horse eating monsters. When I reached up to grab at a leaf, she had herself a little hissy fit and threw a temper tantrum, pony style.
And because I am going through and extreme tired/lazy spell (or perhaps I just do not want to put her harness on her and feel more disappointment), I decided to walk Shy around, under, and through the trees on the property. I feel that I should be harnessing her up and working her, but we are having fun being lazy right now.
I got a lot of wide eyes from Shy. It was as if she thought the tree was going to fall on her, crush her, then the horse eating monster would come and devour her. Totally irrational.
I eased Shy into the first tree. I reached up, let her rest. Reached back up, shook a branch, let her rest. Reached up, shook a branch, lowered a branch, let her rest. Reached up, took off a leaf, let her rest. And repeat in different locations.
Eventually Shy realized that she could eat the tree leaves, instead of the tree eating her. Progress. While she wasn't totally at ease, she was trusting me and that meant a lot.
After we exhausted the deciduous trees in the side yard, we tackled the big conifer. This tree had branches that hang down and we could go under. Fun, right? I thought so. . .
I walked Shy up to the tree and went under. Shy refused to come under. I have experienced this before with her. I walked out, positioned myself next to Shy, told her we would walk under together, she came with me, no questions asked. I think that this is often part of our issues. Shy relies on me so much at her side that when I am behind her or on her, she feels lost. Maybe? Just a thought. . .
Anyway, we walked all under the tree and I had the branches hang all over Shy. We will probably have to do a few more sessions like this and then repeat with the harness and driving bridle on, but I think we will get there.
The main point of this exercise was to desensitize Shy to branches or leaves touching or rubbing on her and sound of branches rustling and twigs snapping so when we ride or drive it is a non issue. Sometimes in a drive we might come close or swipe bushes, low or wide hanging branches, or drive over twigs. So, I guess we are doing some sort of work towards the goal. Just livin' the motto: slowly but surely.