Davin and Danee Rudy have become well known for their work with wild mustangs. Danee competed in the 2008 Midwest Mustang Challenge, placing 6th, and Davin competed in the 2009 Eastern Stampede Extreme Mustang Makeover, placing 9th. Below is the accounts of their experiences with these amazing horses in those competitions.
On this page...
~ Video of the mustang demo from the 2009 Pennsylvania National Horse Show
~ News from Davin's success in the 2009 Extreme Mustang Makeover
~ News from Danee's success at the 2008 Midwest Mustang Challenge
~ Video of Danee's freestyle at the Mustang Challenge
~ Video links of Danee riding her Mustang bridle-less on LIVE television for the CBS news in Baltimore.
~ Entire blog desribing the day to day training of Danee's mustang for the 2008 Mustang Challenge
For More on Rudy Mustangs...
~ Go to the articles page for another in depth look at our experiences at the mustang competitions
~ Go to our sales and adoptions page to find any current mustang projects up for adoption.
~ Click here to read feedback from spectators at the mustang events.
Our Mustang demonstration at The Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Soldier had less then 20 rides previous to this demo!
Davin and Soldier place in Top Ten in the 2009 Extreme Mustang Makeover
Many of you know that Soldier was having some lameness issues. Maybe it was the hard ground in the round pen and the many laps he made around it before being gentled, maybe it was an old injury, maybe we pushed too hard, but his stifles were never quite right. Davin lost a lot of time with Soldier. In fact Davin wasn't riding Soldier until 20 days before the competition! There are two divisions of the competition, idols and legends. Davin stayed in the slightly easier idols division since he really did not get to prepare his mustang. That said the last twenty days of training were amazing. Soldier and Davin acted like they had been working together under saddle for years and as we left for Tennessee we started thinking they could do really well. Watching everyone school is always intimidating as there are so many amazing trainers that show up to these competitions, but even so, Davin and Soldier looked cool, calm, and ready.
I was sitting in with the audience when Davin and Soldier entered for the in hand portion. The judges first impression had to be a great one- my boys looked GOOD!! Davin was in his typical wranglers, boots and black felt cowboy hat, but the white shirt and sport coat commanded attention. Soldier was more than shiny- his feet were painted, mane slicked down, and his small amount of white markings gleamed. He was also calm and well mannered as Davin walked him over the rails, picked up his feet, loaded him in the trailer, trotted him through the serpentine, and all the other obstacles in the in hand course. He placed second. The top three spots all went to Pennsylvania trainers. For the ridden course Soldier was quiet and well behaved, but he was hurting. Apparently the fifteen hour trainer ride to Tennessee was more than he could handle. He had been so sound the last thirty days that we thought we were in the clear. Their performance was okay but not as great as we had hoped. Everyone was positive he made it to the top ten, except Davin, who was honestly surprised when he placed ninth, putting him about fifth or sixth overall, and easily qualifying him for the freestyle.
We knew from before that Banamine did wonders for Soldier so we got a vet pass, gave him a few cc's and prepared for the freestyle with excitement. Davin had a tire with a flag pole concreted into it with a huge American flag flying over 12 feet in the air. The plan was for Soldier to drag it. We knew it was too heavy so Davin and his buddy Darryl used every tool and kitchen knife they had to cut the tire off the concrete, chisel the concrete slab down, and fit it into the bottom of a cut off trash can. Darryl's wife, Denise, and I modified a big USA banner when we realized it was a little droopy. The plan was for the 6 by 25 foot banner to be rolled up on one post and for Davin to ride up to it, grab the end and ride it out to the other post. But it flopped in the center so the 25 foot banner got shortened to about 12 feet. It stilllooked impressive. Davin was forth to go. I have a tendency to tell him what he already knows and I didn't want to pester him so I sat in the stands and tried to act like a normal spectator. During the grand entry the top ten trainers rode in. Soldier was last in line and the other horses were galloping around by the time he made it in. The usually calm horse was a little obnoxious. Alright, no big deal. Then it happened- the horse's entire stifle just collapsed under him. Like a bad knee that just gives out, his stifle just went. Davin did a one rein halt and dismounted. As the horses exited I wanted so bad to run down and see what Davin was planning since the horse was so obviously not feeling good. Davin is very independent and can figure it out on his own so I watched two horses go- then I couldn't take it anymore and ran down. Glad I did. Because the horse was spooking Davin couldn't tell it was his stifle. He thought the horse just tripped behind hard while acting goofy. At this point he only had four minutes to re-plan his freestyle. The drag was still too heavy for a horse this lame. All the canter work was out. Soldier was rightfully unhappy so pulling out the banner on a horse that concerned for his well being was a not a great idea.
I went back to my seat- my heart pounding. Davin rode in and they played his song- a soft ballad about America by Charlie Daniels. Davin pulled the flag out and twirled it, no whipped it, around Soldier's head- something we only played with a little bit and had not done in awhile. Soldier stood still like, well, like a soldier. When Davin tried to mount up it was obvious the stifle pain was radiating into his back so Davin stepped back down and played a little more on the ground. He grabbed the rope and had Soldier pull the flag stand backwards just a few feet. It was much less pressure on him than pulling it forward and Davin held the tail of the rope in a way to help make it easy on his horse. When Davin remounted he was more careful and Soldier said, "Yes, I can." Davin trotted each way and did a pivot each way. Cantering both directions was a required move and had Davin asked I KNOW that Soldier would have done it and done it well, but he didn't ask. The song ended and all who knew the horse's condition was in tears. Mark Lyons, the winner of last year's Texas Mustang Makeover, rode in to interview each trainer. I wish I knew word for word what he said, but Mark informed the audience that he "had some explaining to do" and mentioned that the cowboy code included to never overtax a lame horse. As we walked Soldier back to his stall, all I could think of was that Soldier earned a purple heart. That little horse tried so hard and gave his all. For the awards ceremony Davin led him in tacked up with the American flag hanging over the saddle. They placed ninth. Soldier sold the next day to a trail riding couple in Illinois. It has never been so hard to see a horse go.
It is hard to be disappointed when they did so well, but it's hard to be elated when the sweetest horse you've ever worked with is feeling so poorly. The good news is the new owners didn't mind giving Soldier plenty of time off before starting his new career doing light trail rides.
Success at the 2008 Midwest Mustang Challenge!!!
What an awseome weekend! As I watched other competitors school their horses, I thought I didn't have a chance. Trainers were ridding around bridle-less, doing spins, and I thought my horse was the only one there that didn't lay down!!! My horse on the other hand was spooking at everything. On Friday, I went late in the order and watched trainer after trainer mess up the in hand potion of the competition. No horse wanted to stand still to pick up his feet and horses that loaded into the trailer with ease the night before wouldn't do it at all. As I practiced before going in, my horse just wasn't with it. Even the crowds outside distracted him, but when we went in for our turn, we totally nailed it! Not only did my horse stand perfect for picking up his feet, he pretty much launched into the trailer. We did sideways towards me to get from one obstacle to another and he was so good that for the back up I backed him by the tail. There was only one judge that placed me second, but it was by a big enough gap that it put my second over all for the in hand course. While I did better than average on the conditioning and hair coat score, some trainers had put thier horses under lights and they looked remarkable, so after the two scores were combined I stood in third place.
Like most horses mine was petrified during the ridden course. We went fourth in the order and I thought we blew it because he was spooking and all over the place. But as I watched, most horses were worse. I'm not sure where we placed but it was just high enough to keep us in the top ten. When they announced the finalists we clapped for each trainer, but I was really surprised at the amount of applause I received when my name was announced.
I did not get to see anyone elses finals, but the house was at full capacity- 8,000 people. As I walked in the announcer just made an announcement that the people in the aisles had to find a seat or leave as the fire marshall threatened to turn the electric off. I walked in and tried to stick to my routine, to the song "Here I am" from the movie Spirit. We had to include a 360 pivot each way and a canter figure 8. I had them first thing in my performance. The pivots were aweful- I could barely steer. The canter looked better- but I was holding it together with scotch tape. Than I tried to walk up to these bags that I was going to drag- he wouldn't get close to them. Something inside of me just said the heck with it(but in other words!) I made it to the finals and that was good enough- I am an official Mustang Challenge finallist. What more could I want? I jumped off. I picked up the rope for my bags and threw it over him and undid one rein and sent him around me dragging the bags- the audience cheered,... and I mean really cheered. I though 'you gotta be kidding me???' Others came in draggin huge logs from the saddle. Even so, it was just the wind in my sails that I needed. I dropped the rope and asked him to come sideways towards me. They cheered. I backed him by the tail. They really cheered. I ran with him and sent him over the line of jumps I had origonally intended to ride him over. The crowd went wild. Then I sidepassed him over some barrels towards me. That was harder for him as he had to really think about it and do it on his own. Also the barrels were bigger than those we practiced with and he barely fit over them. Then I sent him over the barrels. We trotted down the center of the arena together and I had him stop with me, than rush off again- stop, trot, stop, trot. It was pretty obvious he was really connected to me and had his confidence up- good thing to becuase I totally ran out of things to do on the ground!! I hopped back up on him and jumped the line of jumps and even jumped the barrels. The crowd was hooting and whistling. They announced "TIME" and I galloped one last lap around and left the arena on cloud nine. I had fun with my horse, and the crowd had fun with me. People ran up to us in tears. It took an hour and a half to get back to the barn (a one minute walk) because of the mob of people that ran out to congratulate us.
Many of the other trainers really complimented that I knew when to get off and when to get back on. Some that didn't even see it came up and said they heard REALLY good things about our freestyle from a training perspective.
During the awards cerimony I REALLY thought I had tenth. I mean, I was the one with the horse that was so wild I had to get off of him. I was floored when I placed sixth!!!
Some people we traveled with said they tried really hard to score objectively and thought I should have placed third. They were being nice and I respected that, but come on... My competitors horses were calm and confident. They jumped through curtains, walked under tarps, did reining spins, they roped cows, they jumped jumps and drug objects without having to get off their horse first! Well, later when I had time to look at the judging I saw two judges had me in seventh. Ken McKnab, who is a natural horsemanship trainer/clinician and just competed in Road to the Horse, placed me third- and only half a point from second! That really blew me away. Most of the trainers there especially respected Ken's judging as the others were known more as AQHA judges and show riders- not colt starters or problem horse specialists. (NOTE: I completely respect the opinion of all three judges. If anything I think they put my too high!)
The next day I hung out at my stall a good bit Many people walked up and said my freestyle really showed my conection to my horse. Two women asked me about coming out to WI for a clinic. (If anyone from the Wisconsin area is reading this and is interested in a clinic, plese let me know!)
Anyways, the weekend was incredible. A women from State College area won- Suzanne Myers. She didn't do anything with guns or fire or tarps, but showed really, really good basics. That horse never came above the bit and every transition she ever did was quick, quiet, and easy. I'm glad she won, as there were not may trainers able to accomplish that. Not only did she win the freestyle, but she won the in-hand, and I believe the ridden course as well. (Although I would have REALLY liked to beat her in the in hand!!! Oh, well.) Congratulations fellow Pennsylvanian, Suzanne Myers!!!
I did buy Rave at the auction and Son was adopted to a good home there in Wisconsin where he will be a light trail horse with a small rider.
Thanks to Jessie for the video.
Bridle-less: LIVE on CBS News!!!
click on CBS Mustang Adoption Video and CBS Mustang Adoption Video 2
We were on the news bright and early on July 3, 2008. Animals and live TV typically don't mix, but Rave did wonderful- even without a bridle. Remeber, he has only spent about 5 months in domestication at this point.
2008 Mustang Challenge Blog
Entries listed newest to oldest
April 13 Day 95 of training Awesome news! The day after we started treatment, Son's hip is almost perfectly straight!!! While we can't make any promises to his prognosis, I really feel that with proper muscle building and time, he should regain the ability to keep his spine and pelvis straight and than we (well, whoever owns him) can slowly lower the built up foot, and hopefully he will keep the alignment. Son has showed such amazing gratitude since we started treating him. If anyone in the central PA area has the room and would be willing to pasture another horse, please let us know asap. We would love to see him through this as we feel he would make the best horse Davin or I ever worked with if only we can get past this last hurdle!
I primped the boys up yesterday and today and Davin and our friend Cody got the truck and trailer all cleaned up and ready to go. I clipped Son's legs, beard, bridle path, wiskers, and even his ears. Since Rave is body clipped he didn't need any additional clipping but I did shorten his mane today. I origonally planned on braiding him for the competition, but I had to condition his mane heavily to get the dandruff out, and conditioned manes are about impossible to braid. I figured I would wash it out tomarrow, but his mane is pretty thick and I couldn't pull it, so I used a thinning blade which also makes braiding difficult. It may be a blessing in disguise as we will be very busy and braiding is seriously time intensive! That and we will be at one of the biggest horse fairs in the country so I would rather go around and see the sites and watch or talk to clinicians and other trainers rather than be braiding (and than fixing!) mane for hours.
We got some INCREDIBLE video of Rave yesterday (thanks mom!!!). I can't wait to figure out how to get it on the web. We did a dress rehersal and I wore my formal show jumping attire (even my helmet). Now I'm wishing I had a place to do some bridle-less stuff at to tape before the competition- not that I plan on going without a bridle in front of however many thousands of people at the horse fair! I have riddin him walk and trot with a neck rope but with the bridle still on. Well, I could ramble on for hours but I got a lot to do! We leave Tuesday morning so the next time I update this will be after the competition... Wish us luck!!!
April 10 Day 92 Well we took Son to the vet today. His crooked hip isn't "fixable" but it may very well be managable. Davin will NOT be doing the ridden portion but will still do the in hand portion. We got Son an accupuncture session which he responded well to, and our farrier just built up his short side with "stuff" (I forget what it is called- equibond or somthing like that) We are going to give him methocarbamol (muscle relaxant) for the back pain- the vets are concerned about muscle tension on the ride out so we are to bute him for that as well. We have a vet excuse and already told the Mustang Heritage Foundation what is going on. He is such a sweet beautiful horse. We were offered the chance to just forego the entire competition and adpopt him now. I would love the chance to try to bring him through this as I really feel that with propper work, good treatment and some time he would be ok, but that is a big gamble- especially since my goals include higher levels of dressage. Unfortuanately we don't have the facility to keep another horse. It really rips us apart to se such a beautiful willing horse go to waste. I pray that maybe an accupuncturist or chiropractor or aspiring dressage enthusiast would buy him and see what they can do for him. I can ride him walk and trot and I have even cantered him successfully- he has very easy gaits to sit to, is a flashy mover, and is very willing- and that is with back pain! Imagine how wonderful he might would be if he had the opportunity.
On a brighter note, Rave is doing wonderful. He had off today, but yesterday ew jumped through a tripple. He could be more careful but he is a keen little jumper!
April 8 Day 90 Today I set up a course, hopped on Rave and did it immediately, which meant cantering three steps after mounting (and I did not ride him previously just in case there is no place to school at the competition.) He wasn't as quiet in his mouth as I would like, but otherwise he did VERY well. My course included cantering both ways, pivots 720 degrees each way, backing an "L", trot figure 8, dragging some stuffed feed bags, carrying a bamboo poll, going over a bank at a trot, and cantering through a one stride in-and-out about 2' high. I want to do one yet that includes simple changes and a serpentine. His sideways over is incredible so no need to practice that. He did knock over the second jump of the in-and-out, but it was set tight for cantering into it. I'm thinking about our two minute freestyle and trying to figure out what I can do in two minutes, without any props, that looks nice. Son has grown the sweetest puppy dog type personality ever. We found out his pelvis is crooked (despite tracking perfectly straight!!!) and that makes a lot of sense since he always seemed bothered by my husband's weight. He goes to the vet on thursday to see if it is serious or if it can be straightened out. He doesn't mind walking and trotting with my weight so that is what we have been doing. We looked at video and pictures of when he first came and can see that it was crooked when he came here, so it is at least 90 days old. We are a little disheartened about such a dramatic set back, but it explains why he has been so difficult despite Davin going so slowly. We hate that we didn't see this sooner as we always said he looks uncomfortable (not in his gait, but in his attitude). He is 'sound', tracks straight, and there is no dropping in either hip as he walks, but to put a hand over each hip bone it is quite obvious that the left one is much higher and further forward than his right one. No wonder the right lead was so difficult! We have both seriously fallen in love with this horse and are really hoping that some chiro and accupuncture and he will be good to go!
April 4 Day 86 Oddly enough our horses have had off a lot! You would think we would be getting in every moment of work we can, but it just hasn't worked out that way. If Davin's horse was worked 70 of the 100 days I would be surprised! (In the beginning he really needed time to just acclimate.) I am forever amazed at how far they have come. If I work Rave in the paddock with all the other horses loose, Davin's horse pesters us and always wants me to rub on him or he just wants to be close in general- pretty amazing for a horse that wanted NOTHING to do with humans!!! Rave is down right outgoing. He seems to really like my company. Tonight it got too late to take them anywhere and our place is too slippery to do much of anything so we just did a little ground work at the walk- nothing fancy. We just walked forwards, than I would yield his huanches a step or two and walk forwards again. Then we would do the same with the shoulders. I strived for seemlessness between the forward walk and the yields. We did baby transitions from walk to barely a jog and back to walk or the whole way down to a halt and back up. The idea was to use as little body language as possible. It was dark, but he still followed my feel quit well. We are also working on stepping away on the circle and inviting him to stretch his head forwards and down while longing. We also smoothed out those direction changes by keeping him marching the whole time and then leg yielding him away a few steps after the direction change so he had to lighten his inside shoulder and rebalance. This often causes a little stretch and I am hoping to expand on that idea so he will stretch the whole way around. His muscles are so much longer and looser than when he first came. When I was first able to stroke his neck I remember how tight and hard the under muscling was- almost deformed feeling. While far from perfect, he carries his head much lower and his neck much longer- even when I am not there. Once a horse learns to stretch and let loose, they greatly prefer it- who wouldn't!!! My emotions are hard to describe as we near the end of this amazing journey- or is it the beginning? I guess it is somewhere in between. 'Bitter sweet' is such a cliche, but I can't think of a more accurate desription- I feel like there should be a fragrance or taste to describe the feelings of amazement and saddness, excitement yet clarity and calmness. Somthing bubbly and refreshing...exotic yet familier. It seems like decades ago that Rave was the wild mule-nosed gelding number yada yada. As we played tonight in the dark I was reminded of the first night they were here- we stayed up for hours just watching them move- observing how when one stopped chewing the other did also- always on the alert. I was reminded of the first time that bay gelding reached his nose to my hand and willingly nuzzled my hand. I also thought of the early riding attempts and him wrinkling his nose and pinning his ears in utter hatred of the whole event. I actually think he likes it now! I've started plenty of young horses. I've watched them go from unruly yearlings to advanced riding horses, but this is beyond that. For those of you still reading- go to bed, ride your horse, get your laundry done. Something!
March 31 Day 82 I spent all weekend at a clinic so Rave had off the last three days. He did get used to his new "do". He is figuring out how to pick up the canter from the walk but he is a bit impulsive about it! We also did a lot of jumping before leaving for the clinic. The narrow jumps are a little too easy to run out, but he is realizing that I want him to get to the other side by JUMPING and not by quickly dodging them! It would help if we had more real jumps but I was jumping over a saw horse!
March 24 Day 75 Well, I was being impulsive today and did something drastic- I body clipped Rave!!! He sttod quite well and besides some runners he looks really good. Afterwards I tacked him up and he started bucking! Apparently it itched!!! He settled on the longe but I knew it would start again when I got on. (My mare is the same way- the only two horses I know that care, and I have them both. GO figure.) He contained himself for awhile, besides fighting me on EVERYTHING. Than he threw a little fit and I got on his case. Itchy or not he isn't allowed to buck me off! Three minutes later all the fighting stopped and he stretched to the bit and trotted in that wonderful trot I've been falling in love with. We called it a day and I drown him in baby oil to hopefully soften the hair up. He practically fell asleep while I rubbed on him. It was nice to see him really enjoy something for a change- He isn't into treats and doesn't have any special "spots" to rub on. He understands preise but doesn't have any big positive reaction to it the way some horses do.
I'll try to get some pictures of his buzz cut soon!
March 23 Day 74 Happy Easter!!! Yesterday the horses were really good. Rave was quite funny actually. He proclaimed to me loud and clear that he thinks he really "got" this lateral stuff! He was happily swinging his butt from renvers to travers and from the tiniest slightest shift of my weight he would march off in a half pass or leg yield. I created a lateral monster! Oh, wel- it should be pretty easy to fix and I'm just glad he seems to like it. I also discovered he has quite a nice lengthened trot which has never been my specialty, so we'll have to play with that. Nothing with Rave is set in stone, but he sure knows a little of everything. Picking up his left lead still takes a try or two, but he is now geting the right lead with only a few steps of trot instead of a whole lot of them! Son cantered under saddle the first time last night- yippee! It was surprisingly balanced and smooth as glass. He doesn't even canter when turned loose so we were quite nervous about his first canter. He only picks up the left lead though. Argh. I hopped on him and took him over a jump a couple times. Besides being the laziest jumper I've ever been on, he did really nice. Hopefully we'll get to ride the horses later today, but let's face it- it is Easter. God bless!!!
March 21 Day 72 Yesterday was our demo for pony club and others and it went really well! The indoor is right next to highway 81, so it is always a little noisy so we took our sound equipment. The building is a Coveral and while I typically love Coverals, this one is very noisey in the wind. It was really REALLY windy- the noise was defening at times. The mustangs spooked for about ten seconds upon entering the ring. That was it. Rave was showing off his amazing sideways towards over obstacles and at a trot. Son figured bowing wasn't fancy enough and layed the whole way down- if he would have told Davin his plans, Davin would have moved the stirup for him! The last time I had jumped Rave he was using it as a dominant "I don't have to moment" so I was glad that he thought nothing of popping right over yesterday. I was also glad that his canter felt safe in such a wild environment. I think the horses are starting to figure out this idea of hamming it up for the audience!!! Today went equally well. I practiced Rave's trot to halt transitions since he was so forward yesterday. Than we did a bunch of lateral work in walk and trot. It is far from solid- he is pretty wiggly in it. But I think we can sort it all out in the next twenty some days. He is goofy about canter leads. Oh well. Then we spent a long time just stretching to the bit in trot. Wow it is nice to see him lengthen that short thick tight neck! Than I worked Sun (my husband was busy working on the farm truck). I felt like I was working a million dollar andalusian stallion! He moves great, he carries himself well, he is pretty steady in the bit considering his level of education, and of course he is gorgeous! Drool.
I also rode my own horse today- yipee! She actually remembers how to walk, trot, and canter, and everything! Despite my internal need to do a bunch of advanced stuff, I managed to keep my ego somewhat in check and spend most the time doing long and low trot circles to get some of her muscle back without getting her sore. Okay, I did do some work on her spin too.
March 19 Day 70 Well, Rave and I can still do a little haunches in but it sin't as solid as I was hoping. He is a little goofy on canter leads yet, but I'm just glad that I can canter him and feel totally comfortable on him. His jumping wasn't as good today as it has been- he is a little mad at me right now so he is testing me. The canter work gets him tired and yesterday we spent a LONG time on his hind feet. He still jerks them around when I first pick them up, but once I stretch them out he is great. On the ground I had him sidepasing towards me today at the trot- my super horse Asia doesn't even do that!!! Son is FINALLY starting to come around. I rode him today (Davin rode our customer's horses) and worked on trot leg yields and turn on the haunches. We are really working him with a dressage home in mind. He actually prefers longing in sidereins to longing without them as he gets confidence from the extra direction. Even while riding he really prefers good steady contact as opposed to loose reins. He is much quieter in his mouth than Rave and holds himself beautifully. I can't believe we have to give up this horse!!!
March 16 Day 67 of training. Rave was excellent today on the ground besides being on the lazy side. As soon as I mounted all lazy disapeared!!! He was a pip! I trotted around for a while hoping he would settle- he didn't. So I needed something complex to keep him focused. We have done lots of leg yields a little shoulder-in, so I thought a mix of shoulder-in and some pivots should keep his attention. It wasn't enough, so I did leg yields keeping them as ship straight as possible. We kept getting them a little more like half passes and less like leg yields. Than we started doing some haunches-in down the rail. That was great so I stepped it up even harder and did some renvers (counter haunches-in). By the end, the travers (haunches-in) at the walk was pretty solid! Better yet, when I dropped the reins he stretched. At the trot I worked him on contact with a nice long neck. That can't happen until the horse seeks the bit, and I really didn't expect that to happen soon. He was opening his mouth and moving his jaw around, but his neck was in a great position and his expression was quite nice. I'm really excited about this because now I feel like I may be able to get all the laterals on him walk and trot by the competition (EEK! Did I just say that out loud?!?!?!?!?! What was I thinking?!?!?) :-)
March 15 Day 66 Today Trail blazers 4H came to see the mustangs. Both horses were pretty good and gave a decent show. Rave's sideways towards me is remarkably excellent if I do say so myself! He also backs well by the tail, and does transitions onine beside me nicely and jumps anything I put in front of him. Davin worked on bowing Son. (We worked on bowing Rave, but he gets way too bracey so we decided to not continue) When I rode Rave I worked a lot on canter departs. He needs some work picking up his right lead, and going both ways it takes awhile to get the canter, but it is pretty nice once we get it. He is also pivoting much better. Son is doing basic walk and trot under saddle now. He is a horse that just simply requires a lot of time and cannot be pushed. It is very easy to break his trust, but he can also act quite dominant! So it is quite the balancing act of bringing him steady along without frustrating him- at all. He is also pivotting undersaddle now, and just started sideways towards, which I wish we would have worked on sooner considering how much he had to think about how to release the presure. I really hope he goes to a professional dressage trainer as I think he really has the most potential.
March 12 Day 63 I made some substantial progress on Rave's hind legs and his ears. I've found that if you prove you have a good reason for touching them he is much less nervous, so picking out his feet and scissor cutting his hairy ears are okay- touching and messing with them for no good reason are not! I can live with that! He is still protective of his hind right and it is still easier to use a rope to initially pick it up, so there is more work to be done, but over all he is getting better. I got to canter him again and it went well. I also jumped him again and he does super well with that! I would like to get his pivots better. Right now we are pivoting 180 degrees and than trotting off. If I don't immediately put a lot of forward in it he does this funky throwing of his front legs while he turns- it is not graceful at all! So a spin may not be part of his 100 day training! Oh, well. His leg yields walk and trot are coming nicely, and we can do a wiggly shoulder-in as well. We also kinda went for a trail ride the other day- Davin ponied his horse and I led Rave part of the way and road him part of the way. He was being quite good, but most of the time we were on the road and I realy really really don't want to fall onto black top! So when there was a grassy stretch I rode. We passed a field of horses and some barking dogs. Traffic was light but he handled it well. He also drug me down intot he creek on the side of the road to get a drink. It was down a steep drop off and than the mushy bank gave out under his front feet and he just slid down in like he expected that to happen and went in with all four feet. Aren't Mustangs awesome!!!
March 8 I worked on Rave's hind legs- we are getting there. I gave him a half a bath. I started giving him a sponge bath on one side, but ran out of time and never did the other side! We don't have hot water at the barn so I bucketed water from the house. He did seem to enjoy the hot water! I also cantered him for the first time the other day. We only did two circles (one on the wrong lead and one on the right one.) It wasn't anything amazing but it was pretty balanced for a first canter undersaddle.
March 6 Day 57 Today we took the horses to the local arena DURING roping practice! When we first got there the boys were chute dogging. I rode Rave among the loose steers, the loud young cowboys, and the chute gates banging. It was pretty wild! He wasn't exactly confident, but he handled himself pretty well. He didn't seem to mind the cattle at all- in fact, I think he would have gotten down and worked them right there and then! But the roudy teen tesoterone had him a little edgy. Once I hoped off they started roping and we hung out on the ground in the middle of the chaos for quite sometime and he was really calm then. Davin actually loaded his horse into a bucking chute so he could watch the action up close! He was great! Both horses cowboy load into the trailer- even in the dark in the middle of the road. I often lead the horses two at a time now to and from the trailer while my husband gets the trailer ready.
March 4 Day 55 Wow, it has been awhile since I updated! Rave was so good yesterday! I felt comfortable riding him- I wasn't worried about any "what if's!" We just did walk trot- no canter yet. But he is really following seat aids now. He stops off just seat pretty well. Turning isn't quite as good but he does understand. I even put a neck rope on (WITH the bridle- I'm not that brave!) and he listened to it well enough that I'm not discounting the idea of him going bridle-less, however that is a tall order considering the timeline and the environment we will be competing in! I also jumped him a little yesterday- it had to get to a decent height before he actually jumped it though. He can step over some pretty sizable stuff! The other trainers all seem to agree that getting a mustang "on the bit" it not an easy or quick task! (Check out Jessie and Remington- link above.) I tend to agree, however I think working them on loose reins until they get very supple and responsive to one rein at a time builds "on the bit" quicker than asking for it directly. Rave seems to hold himself fairly well on his own, and using on rein at a time is causing him to drop his nose a little here and there.
Davin's horse is doing walk trot under saddle now. He gets a little confused, but he is such a sweet sweet horse. He is very personable, and depite how long it took him to get this far, I think he is going to make a very stead fast quiet mount.
I want to give a big big thanks to D.J. Hoffman for doing our mustang's teeth. Rave's weren't too bad but she did flaot him and remove a cap. Davin's horse, Son, had some major issues and very little movement in his jaw, plus he had a wolf tooth. Even in a hackamore, Son was quite the head flipper. He still flips some when he gets frustrated or confused, but not near as high and not near as often!
Feb 27 day 49 As I worry about the minimal time we have left I can't help but thinking of all the things left to do instead of the things we've accomplished thus far. Oh, well- I'll get it out of my system... Rave is STILL HORRIBLE about me getting near his ears. He has some very very deep issues here that I doubt will resolve in the next 50 days. He also is STILL goofy about his hind feet. He will pick them up for a moment, however he stomps them down right away, or worse- kicks! (He has never kicked at me though, thank goodness!) I will say though, we did make some really good progress today and I could hold them up with a stick and string. I had tried that before without any success, but today it worked, so I guess he just needed the time. His front feet are very easy to handle and trim. My other negative comment for the day is this horse doesn't own a canter!!! His trot is out of this world awesome, but even on the longe I have trouble getting a canter out of him at all. I wish I had a round pen. Oh, well.
So now that I'm done with all that negative stuff- we had a great ride today. Walk and trot with leg yields at the walk. We used two reins- one on the rope hackamore and one on the snaffle and he is doing well with that. I tried longing him in side reins today. At first I had the side reins on the bit and he kept opening his mouth and throwing his tongue over, so that wasn't exactly what I wanted him to practice. Then I tried with the side reins attached to a longe cavesson and that went much smoother. He never seemed to feel "trapped" and he rode much better afterwards since he figured he could stepinto the outside rein a little. It also showed him he could turn without bulging his outside shoulder!!! I messed with his ears a LOT, but I've been messing with his ears for a long time with little improvement, so I am not really getting my hopes up there! He is much much better about me walking around behind him while being tied. That used to worry him, but he doesn't seem to care now. His ground work impresses me alwyas!
Davin's horse is figuring out how to steer now. He used to bend his nose the whole way to the rider's foot and not go forward. If he gets frustrated he flings his head big time! However he has never threatened to rear or buck or take off, or anything like that, so I'll take the head tossing! As he figures out his job the head tossing will go away.
Feb 26 again. day 48 YIKES!!!! I just realized we hit the half way point and we are barely riding ours! Our mustangs have had way, way, way too many days off! We have a lot going on in the next fifty days- clinics and lectures and lessons. The horses will end up hainvg a lot more days off. If we worked them 35 of the fifty days so far I would be VERY surprised. If I don't have regular updates it is probably because I gave up my computer time for more mustang time!!!
Feb 26 Well, the Mustangs have been ignored a lot lately as I was participating with my own horse at the PA Horse World Expo. We also have a good many horses in training and of course pay horses come first!!! I did have three rides total on Rave where I could actually steer and trotted a little. I feel like we are "falling behind" since we havn't had a lot of time to put into them. I rode him with two reins yesterday- one set on the rope hackamore ad the other on a French link snaffle. He seemed pretty good with it.
Feb 17 Day 39 Being that it is Sunday we didn't do a whole lot today. I attempted to longline my horse, but that proved awefully dificult! I did double longe him some and that went okay. Yesterday, we both got on our horses without anyone holding them. I could get Rave to move his forehand, hindquarters, and to go sideways and backwards... as long as it was in the direction towards my mare who was tied in the arena. I finally had Davin help me get him forwards, but it isn't something I can do by myself. Oh,well. I also had him go sideways over a barrel(from the ground)- that is pretty difficult for a horse as short, and short coupled, as he is! Since I last updated this page I also taught him to come sideways towards me. In fact, he picked that up VERY quickly, and yesterday I had him zig-zagging down the arena doing sideways towards, than away, than towards, than aways. He did it better than my personal horse Asia! I had him dragging light objects and it took quite awhile for him to get used to the feeling of the rope touching his hocks, but he is accepting it now. I had also tried to teach him Spanish walk but he got very frustrated almost instantly, so we may not revisit that one! I'm still working on being able to touch his ears. I have seen horses that are ear shy, but not anything like him. This is a very deep issue for him.
Our mustangs' natural personalities are really shining through now. Davin's horse is still timid, however he has come to like people and thinks domestication is great! He loves having his OWN stall, with his OWN feed bucket. He also loves not getting pushed around by the more dominant horses 24 hours a day. He has become a very willing partner and really wants to please. Rave on the other hand now focuses every breathing moment trying to become top dog! He is very smart and is a quick learner, but I must always be on my toes and I have to keep him busy. I think he would make a great competition horse, but he is not for the faint of heart! I must be very provacative to retain my leadership without being harsh. My biggest issue now is to keep finding new challenges that are fun- not frustrating. That was my main reason for attempting long lining. I thought if I could do the same tasks from a different position it would keep things fresh, but I wasn't coordinated enough to pull it off with a horse so green. I'll have to go on a hunt for new imaginative yet fairly simple tasks and obstacles!
Feb 12 Day 34 We put first rides on BOTH horses today!!! We hoped to do it much earlier, but weather has been aweful, and we have to haul them down the road to an arena to do much of anything with them. And of course we have to put our client's horses first or we don't get paid! Anyways, it went well. For both horses, Davin led them and I mounted up. Son (Davin's "difficult" horse) has become the agreeable one and was GREAT. My horse, Rave, thought about bucking on numerous occasions but my husband was pretty slick at disengaging his HQ or backing him a step or whatever he needed at the moment to change his mind, so he never did get to throw that buck he was saving for me!!! Rave has gotten VERY opinionated lately- refusing to get in the trailer which he has been in a bazillion times, not standing still if he thinks he doesn't like what may be coming... It is definitly a rational dominance thing (as opposed to fear based) as the things he likes he is EXCELLENT at, and things he just learned to like (AKA, his over the head blanket!) he is now perfect for. I was very tempted to get on his case and "show him who is boss" but thankfully my better judgement reminded me that if ten minutes of annoyance still ends in trailer loading, so what? He'll figure out it is more work to fight! I did do some flank rope stuff with him today, but he had a blanket on, so it wasn't near as touch and go as first time flank roping typically is- I think I'm on to somthing here! In about 20 seconds he figured out to sidepass towards me- honest! Not that it was consistant, but still, he did try the right answer!
Feb 9 Day 31 of Competition Today was fairly uneventful- I taught Rave to drag an object (tied up feed sacks) and he figured out pretty quickly it is just one of the many dumb tasks I come up with. He didin't like the feel of the rope on his hocks at first, but got over it quickly. I helped my husband band his horse's mane over. Considering that he isn't crazy about humans on his right side it was very good for him. Yesterday was the more impressive day! We hauled the horses to the local rodeo arena and I had Rave jumping over some barrels which he is so good at. Then I backed him into nothing other than the bucking chute, where I proceeded to crawl and rub all over him. He was very calm- a little angry at times, but very confident and calm. I was able to really rub my legs all over him and I felt safe sitting on him bareback rubbing my legs on him. I also asked for some lateral flexion, but not much since I didn't feel like having him lean on my leg (up against the side of the chute) in order to make room to turn his head. I also didn't want to risk the chance of him trying to get turned around. After bringing him out, we tried my husband's big ole roping saddle on him. He was great while I flung it up on and tightened the girths and even for the double rigging (back cinch). But than he heard all the noise it makes (Davin has pullies hanging on it for some of his roping gear and jerk line) and took off a bucking! Davin was holding him so I got to watch- it was exactly the type of buck I can NOT ride!!! Even though the first buck was fear based the rest looked like they were just for fun since his ears were up, eyes bright, and nostrils not overly wrinkled like they are when he is mad! After he quit he was fine. I hung things all over the saddle and made him trot and even jump with all of that stuff hanging on him and he never threw another buck. He left me belly over twice without trying to get away at all. What a great day!
Davin also accomplished a lot (with my help of course!!!) He put the roping saddle on his horse and Son stood there really good. He got a little jumpy when Davin puled the brest collar from the left and it moved on Son's right- he didn't understand why he felt it way over there!!! Anyway, he never bucked or even humped up and he only wore a english saddle twice before. He was so good that I bellied over him while Davin held him (funny how I always get that job!) and he was a saint. We think he is actually going to be much better to start undersaddle than Rave.
Last night we watched the old Disney movie Hacksaw- it is about a feral stallion that can NOT be ridden but is very good on the ground and turns out to be a great pack horse, single horse sled racer and the lead horse of a winning chuck wagon team. At the end of the movie the cowboy owner tries once again to ride the bronc and eats dirt yet again. If I had it all to do over again, I think I would rename Rave Hacksaw!!!
Feb 6 Day 28 Yesterday I put a rope around Rave's neck and tied his hind foot to it. This is a very old school method of restraining a horse long enough to prove to them you are NOT trying to kill them. I bellied over numerous times and kneeled on the saddle and sat on him a couple times. He wasn't too happy about it, but he was relativly calm- and I felt safe! Sometimes if you can find a way to get in there, get somthing done, and be effective, it is more humane than taking tiny baby steps, that still cause stress, and seem to get no where. I like to compare it to a lion- you are on the Savanah and a lion is stalking you from about 50-100' away. You walk away slowly and he continues following. It goes on for hours- all day even. At the end of the day you don't trust the lion anymore tha you did in the beginning. If instead you are on the Savanah and a lion pounces on you, but before you know what is happening he is licking your face and acting friendly... you probably were very startled but quickly realized the lion meant you no harm. In this case, it was more humane and less stressful to pounce! Tying Rave's hind leg to mount was very similar. What is better is he seemed fine today. We haulled both horses to a local arena and I played with barrels (Rave is a CUTE jumper!!!) and even backed him into the bucking chute- he was cool as a cucumber. The hind leg thing worked so well with him, that Davin did the same to his horse to rub his right side (which has always been a big issue) and to saddle and unsaddle him multiple times. When he took the rope off Son's leg the horse continued to stand well to be rubbed on and unsaddled. Than I ponied each horse off Davin's QH mare. Both horses loaded and unloaded great to and from the arena. All in all, it was a very productive day!
Feb 4, 2008 Day 26 Rave is starting to act a lot more domesticated- his eyes and muzzle are much softer now, his ears go up more often and I can walk up to him much easier. He even lowers his head now and truly relaxes! Woo,hoo! I havn't really done anything new- just doing everything better. I did belly over him the other day and it wasn't too bad but he wasn't happy about it either. Our footing is so terrible that we can't do a whole lot. I hope to be on him soon, but quite often he seems okay with something at first, and than reacts strongly. I don't feel like getting bucked off, so we'll take our good old time! Every horse I've started lately has been so over prepared that I figure there is about a 1% chance of them actually bucking. I think Rave is closer to 50%. I don't think it would last long, but it is enough to make me patient! Today I worked him off my horse a little. My horse, Asia, is really too timid to be a pony horse, but she did well. Davin, had his horse out of the pen and over the bridge and the pedastool. He's been cinched up a few times. In general he is acting calmer, but he still goes in to the super difficult horse category!
Jan 30 Day 21 Oh My Gosh! Day Twenty One already!!! Today I threw stuffed feed sacks over Rave and he really didn't care at all. When I pushed them off and let them fall he still didn't really react. He trotted around with them and was fine- even when they were back near his flanks. Today he was great about walking out in front of me. He even stopped well and backed up when I did. I did have to shake the line for the back up and keep him along a wall so he backed straight, but still pretty good since I was well behind his shoulder. I think having a horse take direction from behind their withers is very important preperation for riding. Rave was also excellent about trailer loading today- I even sent him on cowboy style. He didn't jump up immediately, but it won't take much to get it that way! He was initially afraid of plastic bags and today he did great with a bag on a stick. The only major "issues" we are having is his hind feet and ears. I wanted to put a french link snaffle on him today just to wear, but I never got around to it.
January 29 Day 20RAVE IS OKAY. We took him to the vet and it was just a polyp or fatty tumor- they are sending it out for testing to be sure. The BLM was great and said they would pay for the vet and even for the testing. Dr Joan Henderson was WONDERFUL at handling him. She REALLY took her time and wanted the whole thing to be an okay experience. I was able to load him in the trailer pretty easily- slowly, but easily. He only pulled back twice the whole time and it was a fairly slow pull back- and he stepped right back up immediately afterwards. Once on, I unloaded him and put him right back on again. Than we drove to the vet's. It was a short but windy drive- about half an hour. At the vet's we were able to unload in her indoor. That was really nice because I wasn't sure how he would handle getting off in a new area and the last thing we all needed was for him to get loose in the wild blue yonder! Dr Henderson took her time rubbing on him. He was very worried about all the people there. I thought it would be best for just her to handle him to give him the sedative and she agreed. So she walked him around and rubbed on him for awhile. Then she stabbed him. Wowza. He took off and she beared down into the rope. Joan is a little thing but she wasn't giving up. She kept his hind quarters semi disengaged the whole time as he flew circles around her. She did get him settled back down. Amazingly she gave him the whole sedative, didn't allow him to get loose, nor did she stab herself with the empty needle- now that is talent!
Everyone left for awhile and Rave started to take a little nap. His eyes got droopy and lips got soft, but as soon as someone else walked in he would perk right back up again. The vet gave him another dose and this time he stood perfectly still so she was able to get it all right in the vien. She hadn't even pulled the needle out yet and his head got super heavy in my hands. He never did fall down but we had some close calls! Dr Henderson was able to pull the polyp off with her bare hands. She cleaned him up really good and we waited for the sedation to wear off. Meanwhile I rubbed his ears- the only part I really hope he remembers!!! (Rave is super high intensity ear shy!) Loading back on the trailer was almost as hysterical as his classic stagger when I started to lead him around. He put his front foot up right away, but could not figure out how to get the other one up. Than it was the back feet. He still has no clue how to 'step up' behind- he always hops up with both hind feet. Even onto our pedastool at home. He stood there for awhile before hopping up behind. On the way home we stopped for a paper and saw me and Rave first thing on the top page!!! Unfold it and there was Davin and Son right below it. On A5 there was yet another large pic with Davin rubbing ropes around Son's belly while I held him. It was a good article too!
Jan 27 Day 18 Well, I think Rave has a small old hernia- I put a call into the vet. The good news is both horses made great progress today and I had a great learning experience. Davin's horse accepted a bareback rigging. It was slow getting it on him, but we figure he actually stood still for the twenty minutes it took to get him used to it and get it tightened enough to tie it fast. After it was on he walked around like it was part of him- no big deal! I didn't think I did much with Rave yesterday- just hung out and groomed him a lot. Well, today I reaped the benefit of all that hang out time. He was his calmest ever when I took him out today- head much lower than usual, and responded (as opposed to reacted!) very well to all my little requests. He is now leading much more advanced- he stops and backs up with little or no pressure even if I am behind his shoulder. I did get him to trot beside me some today which was a really big deal for him. His brain went to prey animal mode every time I tried before. Today he was quite calm and even happy about it. He put all four feet on the tire pedastool today- but than acted like he didn't knw how to step down! Silly. Well, it was dark out! He doesn't even look at the bridge and tarp any more. I also was able to send him some out in the open. He doesn't always "get it" but he is figuring it out more and more often. He is sometimes still tense when I FIRST approach him, but after that first touch he is no longer so jumpy. I can toss all sorts of ropes, sticks strings, plastic bags ad such and he is so much better now. The moral of the story is, I learned that "not accomplishing anything" may be accomplishing a lot!!! I kept yacking at my husband asking when was he going to start putting some serious time on his horse- we only have 100 days!!! But he kept spending five minutes and calling it a day!!! But the horse is so much calmer now. Some of our competitors were riding the first week. While I certainly won't say that that is "bad", I do feel I can accomplish just as much by taking it slow. I actually feel that if Rave needs minor surgery it may be a blessing in disguise- I may have to put my goals and my little check list off to the side and just hang out with him for some time. I just have to remember that "doing nothing" may actually be doing a lot!!!
Jan 26 Day 17 of competition Yuk!!! Today I was just hanging out with Rave, spending some easy time, just rubbing him all over and getting him calmer about me standing on a tub so that I'm above him a little. That is when I discovered a mud covered ball of puss right over his castration. It smells aweful now that I broke it open a little. I am looking for more info on when his castration was, and if this is common or not, but it will definitly need treated. Wether treatment means a bottle of Betadine and time cleaning it up, or having a vet tranq him, scrub it, and give him antibiotics- I don't know. When I break it open tomarrow I'll hopefully find out that it isn't as bad as it smells. There is no heat or swelling, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed (and covered in rubber gloves!!!)
Davin's horse did great today. He is much calmer now, and is starting to accept a saddle pad.
Jan 24 Day 15 of competition Rave took the saddle with ease, I did trim his feet some (they need a lot more though!), AND I got a blanket on him. This is easier said than done since it is an over the head blanket!!! I've been ending our sessions just standing on an upside down muck tub and leaning over him. He is finally starting to relax into it. Rave often stands still for things but really isn't accepting them- he is just frozen still. Then if I push it a little too much he freaks out- opps. So today I did a LOT of desensitization- or I scared him half to death and he happened to stand still! I guess I'll find out which one tomarrow.
On the brighter side he is leading really well- he walks slower, faster, stops, and backs when I do. Yippee! I just introduced trotting but he is still unconfident about that. I may have to work on it in the open where we can do straight lines. I am working him outside of the round pen, but I havn't sent him on a circle or any other task that has a higher potential for running off! He did cross a bridge, put his feet up on a tractor tire pedastool, and walked between upright polls that had plastic hanging off of them. I had him going over tarps in the round pen too- can't remember if I wrote that before. My goals for the next few days include more desenitization and getting him trotting along side me.
Jan 17 Day 8Rave is doing wonderful. He still can be a little tight and jumpy but relaxes quickly once we start playing. I had a saddle blanket and surcingle on him and started hanging things on it. When he trotted around he found out that if he stops the bouncing and noise quit. Trot four steps, stop. Trot four steps, stop. I really like that stopping is his reaction. I hope that if he gets scared when I ride him that he has that same reaction then!
I sent him at the trot over some raised rails and his natural stride has so much spring to it that he didn't need to change his stride at all to clear the rails. His timing also seemed perfect. He hardly ever touched a rail and never had to take a big leap or a stutter step. He is leading better now and learning back up and turn on haunches one baby step at a time. I would like to get him leading up closer to me instead of hanging back, but that is starting to come to. He picks his feet up for a second or two. We'll have to work on that as his toes are really long. So far nothing has been really difficult. The more I get control of his feet the more he respects me. Not in a "Okay, I'll listen now," type of respect but more of a, "Can I be close to you? I really feel comfortable when you are around."
Davin's horse, Son, is allowing him to rub back to his hip on the left and to his withers on the right. He has a pretty good hind quarter yield, and leads fairly well. I think the plan is to desensitize him to more stuff tomarrow. It has been slow, but Davin won't rush him. Competition or not, the horse comes first.
Day 5 Our two mustangs are home and doing well. My horse is a bay gelding with two socks and a coronet. (Actually, his legs are still so muddy you would never know it!) He has been relatively easy so far as Mustangs go. I call him "Rave", short for "Unravelled Fate." I'm writing this on day five of training and so far he is allowing me to rub him all over with my hands and a stick, I'm tossing ropes over him, I laid a tarp in his pen that he walked over, I can walk the whole way around him (that was a big deal!), can do some hind quater disengagements, and in general I don't have to be quite so darn slow and careful around him as I initially did, although he is still a little goosey. As of today I started leading him a little bit. At first glance he is certainly not the most gorgeous horse, but as you really look closely his feet, his bone, all his angles, the muscling in his hind quarters- it is pretty impressive. I would like to trade in his neck, but that is the one body part that is very changable with correct work, assuming we get that far!
Davin's horse is much more challenging. We think he is going to make an incredible horse as he is fairly big, extremely well built, and pretty comfortable in his environment. He also was on the obvious low end of the pecking order since when we picked him up just about every other horse in his herd was pushing him around. Unfortunatly, he has a special fear of humans. Just getting in his pen at the other end is a big deal to him. Davin has been rubbing him with bamboo, and yesterday was able to really pet him for the first time. Davin ended up calling him "Son" after many times of whispering, "Easy, son, easy." This remarkable black horse also has a remarkable cross on his head- God's little reminder to have faith. We really thought about calling him "Rock of Ages" (still my personal favorite) but Davin thought it was a little sacreligious to name a horse after God, so he settled on calling him "Baptized by Fire." This name comes partially from the fact that Davin had to squeeze him into a small area and get a hold of his head firmly, and prety much scare him to death, to get that first real progress with him- not exactly the method we prefer, but there comes a point where you have to jump in and show him that no one means him harm- it is similar to if a lion pounced on you and than started licking your face. It would be scary at first, but you would also figure out quickly that you aren't the main course. We really feel that once he latches on the rest should be smooth sailing as he is incredibly smart and athletic and very inquisitive.