Let me back up a bit. On Saturday, I took Speedy on the first of what will become many hand walks. If you missed that post, find it here. Izzy cried and cried and then cried some more. He cried for thirty solid minutes. A little boohooing is okay, but after that it's just a 1,200 pound six-year old throwing a temper tantrum.
Izzy has been with me for than a month now, and he has seen Speedy come and go. I am okay with a few tears as we walk away, but after thirty minutes, it's just rude. I don't do rude; my boys are expected to behave themselves, so I walked Speedy over to the trailer and left him tied up while I went and dealt with my fussing Zweibrücker.
I armed myself with my NH "stick and string" (mine is a generic model that cost me around $10.00 a few years ago) and the patience to stand there all day using it. I sent Izzy out of his stall and into the paddock and then closed the gate. My barn owner had the foresight to include a gate so that the inside could be separated from the outside - good thinking on her part.
With the gate closed, I effectively created a square "round pen." It's not very big at 24 feet by 24 feet, but the footing is good, and there's nowhere to run. I planted myself in the middle and sent Izzy forward.
When he tried to trot off, I stepped in front of his shoulder, raised my stick off the ground just slightly in front of him, and told him to walk. And surprisingly, he did. When he was walking, I kept my body language quiet and my stick lowered to the ground. The instant he whinnied, I got loud with my body and snapped the string to ask for a quick change of direction, and then another and another. And then I got soft and quiet and asked him to walk on.
As long as he was walking and not whinnying, I was quiet and simply kept him walking forward. After two or three quiet laps, I stepped in front of his shoulder, pointed in the opposite direction, and tapped my stick as firmly as needed for a change of direction.
I worked him for about twenty minutes. He had to do a few rapid changes of direction, but he definitely started thinking about what was happening to him. It didn't take long for him to start licking and chewing and lowering his head. Even so, he was pretty sweaty and foamy before we were through.
Several times during our work, I was able to get him to stop and face me. I used the stick to scratch him and flick the rope end over his neck and back. He never totally gave up on longing for Speedy's return, but it was only day one of this exercise, and frankly, I was really impressed with how sensible he was.
Tying Izzy to the trailer didn't turn out to be much of a stretch for him. Taking Speedy away is definitely more worrisome, so that's where my schooling work will now be focused. I may not have a round pen, but I am pretty good at fitting mismatched pieces together. Round or not, my "square" pen will get the job done!