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Extreme Mustang Makeover – Leela Week 3
 By SuperLevi   •   8th Mar 2016   •   2,584 views   •   0 comments
Extreme-Mustang-Makeover

I’d just hit the three weeks of training mark with my wild Extreme Mustang Makeover horse, when things really got rocky. Something was going on... either the way I trained was not working on this mustang in particular or there is just something not right with Leela.

The first day I really began to scratch my head was the day that a film crew was out filming our mustangs for a documentary called American Hoofbeats. As expressed in week 2, although I’ve had success with typical natural horsemanship methods with other mustangs, this one did not take too kindly to the round pen. While being filmed, Leela’s shoulder constantly drifted in towards me anytime I tried to push her out towards the rail and when I asked for her to change directions I could not get her right side to face me. Leela changing directions into the fence was not a habit that was abnormal for her, but what was abnormal was that I could not get her to stop and face me from her right side. Normally I could get one half decent turn and semi join up but not this day.

To this point Leela has done well for a green horse in regards to mounting and standing still, but of course the day that the cameras are out, she was wiggly for the first time ever and it took me some time to get her to stand for me to mount. Fortunately not too much was out of the ordinary for her ride. Notably she did give me a big crow hop into the canter, but overall she was riding well enough for less than ten rides to date.

Over the next couple days I felt things continue to deteriorate. Interestingly, it wasn’t that Leela was not making progress in her training, it was just her overall vibe and attitude that she expressed as her training progressed. The grumpy mare face was permanently etched onto her lips and her normally sweet doe eyes became hardened. Even asking her to do the simplest of task on the ground, like yielding a shoulder over to pivot or back up would send her into a rear of detest. Shoulder control has been a weak point for her but something gradually had changed over time about her overall willingness to learn.

Confused and discouraged I started explaining all these odd behaviors to a friend. We traced back the weird behavior to when the vet came out to treat Leela for scratches in week 2, but could not link this issue with the behavior change. She is sound again, the swelling was down, and the scratches were clearing up, so she really had no apparent reason to still not feel well. After deeply pondering the situation my friend came up to me and suggested that Leela may have ulcers which were irritated when the vet prescribed butte. So having nothing else to loose, I took Leela off butte and gave her a day off to rest.

Her next training session was remarkably improved. Leela was marching up on the pedestal with a softer expression and not quite so unwilling to do the other in hand movements. She was doing so well in fact that I decided to play with liberty in the arena. Liberty is where the horse is set loose and asked to maintain focus to perform maneuvers without a halter, lead rope, or physical contact. I was pleasantly surprised that Leela upheld her attention on me and stayed drawn enough to trot some lunging circles around me in both directions.

Leela’s laydown was coming along very well too. I could finally cue her by tapping her elbow and she dropped her head, pawed, and lay down without me needing to pick up her foot each time. I’ve taught many horses to lay down but my little gray mustang has certainly been the quickest and most consistent so far.

Since no longer giving her butte I also noticed some improvement in the round pen. Although it was never a strong point for her to begin with, I could at least get her turning towards me sometimes on her right side and even drawn in a few steps at times. She was still far from ideal, but at least Leela was giving me a little something to work with.

Under saddle the crow hopping into the canter disappeared as well. I was able to focus on learning and teaching Leela to use her body more correctly and ride more in frame. She is the type of horse that has more go than whoa, so something I’ve had to work on under saddle is getting her focused and relaxed rather than quick and full of anticipation. With the help and coaching of the trainer I’m interning with, Leela was looking mighty well for only being unhandled three weeks prior. She was finding good rhythm at all three gaits and most importantly doing all three gaits calmly.

After linking her odd behavior to the butte, all seemed to be going really well. Nonetheless, if Leela did have ulcers, just taking her off of butte was not going to heal them. To address the problem I ordered some ulcer treatment and put her on some herbal remedies as well. Aloe juice has been known to help heal ulcers so I started adding that to her feed along with some honey. Bananas were said to help sooth the stomach, but I did not have much luck convincing Leela to try them.

Extreme-Mustang-Makeover

Extreme-Mustang-Makeover

Extreme-Mustang-Makeover
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