SPICK 1 14 14 JRLSpic and Span 1/14/14Span is still difficult to catch. As soon as I come into his pen he trots. Head, ears and tail are up. His demeanor looks as if it could be playfulness but I interpret it as fear.  Perhaps he is still concerned that I’m a predator. The pen that he shares with a Spic is about 100 feet across and round–a little big for round pen training but it will do. I pretend his running from me is my idea and encourage him to trot. Meantime Spic is all friendliness and comes up to me wanting to be petted. I pet him for a minute but I cannot forget about Span’s rude infraction. I have to keep Span moving. I don’t want him to think he has been rewarded for his bad behavior. Spic, still free, in good fun joins in the chase. He runs after Span, biting and kicking him. Poor Span is no doubt feeling persecuted. I have to stop the whole process to catch Spic who is feeling cocky  and is having a thoroughly good time. Spic does not want to be caught even to be petted. He is having too much fun. Nevertheless he quiets down in a minute or two allowing me to put his halter on and tie him in the shed. As I return to my discipline with Span, Spic stomps and rears, wanting to join the fun again.

After 10 minutes or so of running Span is starting to wonder whose idea this is anyway and it is becoming apparent that it is the human’s idea. When I ask him to whoa and turn once again Span slows down and looks thoughtfully at me. I take a passive stance. As I move toward him. He starts to move away. I resume a dominant stance and continue the chasing. After a few repetitions of these body language communications Span’s attentive thoughtfulness continues steady as I walk toward him in a quiet, passive, friendly manner. He finally stands and allows me to put his halter on. In the meantime Spic is whinnying and wondering why he is being left out of the action. I leave him standing and take Span to the training pen.


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  1. Kathryn says:

    These are exeptionally beautiful horses! I love reading the detail about not just THEIR body language, but how you use your own to communicate to them. Are these someone else’s horses, or now yours? What is the ultimate goal?

  2. Mary Ofjord says:

    Where did these horses come from, and why is Span so skittish? Does he associate work with pain; improper fitting saddle (not yours – but previous), back pain, were they left on their own from the previous owner? Just curious because Haflingers are usually easy going, just like Fjords.

  3. J.R. says:

    Thanks Mary, these are “Amish” Halflingers. They don’t fit into the Halflinger descriptions that I have in my books. They are much larger around 15 hands and they are hot-blooded in attitude, especially Span. If someone was used to cold bloods Spic and Span may make him impatient. I suspect some abuse in their past. They both head shy. They are four-year-olds and I am reasonably sure they have had very little handling, not much beyond halter breaking. Nevertheless they seem to be adjusting nicely to training and I believe that they will turn out great.

    I picked them up in western Minnesota a little over a month ago and I’ve been working on them as steady as I can, but it’s been intermittent and consequently slow because of the cold weather, aside from Span’s unusual unwillingness to be caught they seem to be on or ahead of schedule in their training.

    I’ll keep you posted.

  4. J.R. says:

    Thank you Kathryn, My neighbor is a logger and plans to use these horses for logging. He is most familiar with the draft, heavyweight, 2000+ pound Belgians, but wanted to have a more versatile horses so he opted for these Halflingers. I’m boarding and training these horses this winter to be trained to ride and to commence driving lessons as well.

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