Having very publicly stated that my training system for Obama is the dog's dangly bits, it is clearly time to redesign it. Improvement is the name of the game, if you aren't improving, you're dead.
Obama coped with an unbelievable level of stress, for which I feel guilty, but I could see no other way to demonstrate the Bannedwaggon, and to a lesser extent, my training system.
Now I am back home, the bones have nearly stopped aching, and I am pretty sure the modifications to the Bannedwaggon are sorted, it is time to look again at Obama's training, or more to the point, to start again.
Yes he coped, but he didn't enjoy the last bits, but then I was terrified, knackered and at the end, in considerable pain, which may have been a factor. He was also frighteningly dependent on me, and hated to be separated, even for a minute. This didn't help my state as shopping for food with a pony in Central London isn't easy, so hunger was added to my woes. Three days, one shop.
I could get Obama through, I could get him to pretty much anywhere, but I couldn't get him to just chill out and relax. But nor could I. Looking back, I can see the need for a time we could interact that wasn't travelling, that wasn't grazing.
Before I do anymore stupid journeys, I need a way to calm Obama down, a sort of horse/human yoga. That I should even consider this says loads about the trip. Normally my opinion of yoga is low, and the thought of me doing it is a complete non starter. My joints don't work at those angles, I'm not getting involved in eastern mysticism, etc etc.
But Adele has taught Obama to enjoy being scratched in a completely different way over the few days he has been chilling out with her and Winston the Mule. She has also taught him that sticks aren't terrifying. What Adele has done, is take an animal I have spent 20 months with, and teach him things I never taught him, and they are things I should have taught him.
The sticks issue, I knew about, and left, because Obama provided a classic demonstration of the evil effects whips produce. As Obama is about to start chariot archery lessons, i was going to deal with the whips issue anyway, I just suspect Adele did it quicker and better than I could have.
The scratching issue is much more important. It would have given me a way to chill Obama out, to bring down the adrenalin levels, even in extreme situations. I used treats, which work, but don't provide the disconnect from reality which a good scratch seems to achieve. The main risk is being crushed as Obama goes into total zombie mode and topples over with an inane grin pasted across his face.
I need to sort out his fear of bridges, going over heavy traffic, echoing high rise urban spaces, and flocks of birds, especially pigeons round his head. If I can do this with scratches, and induce that total disconnect in a high stress location, I have a really stunning training tool. Though Adele provided another very effective tool. Getting someone else to work with your animal.
I am almost convinced that two trainers are more than twice as effective as one. And they don't need to be brilliant. I am going to let everyone else train Obama as the next stage in his development. Obviously under certain rules,
You mustn't deliberately frighten him.
That's it. If scratches work, or singing, or poetry, or dance.............. great. If I can let Obama interact with lots of other people, and learn from them, and enjoy himself, he will be calmer, happier, better trained, and a whole load of novices will have learned about ponies, learned about training, while training my pony and themselves. how cool is that?
Starts tomorrow, keep you posted.
He'll be logging and working round the farm, and delivering books for Bookcycle, and providing a Pony Drawn Birthday Present Delivery service in Exeter, and working on the row crop system, and getting scratched and learning to tow archers round at high speed, and he won't see a whip, or a bit, or blinkers, or a crupper, or steel shoes, or a groom.
To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php