Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Marla's Weight Loss: The Journey

Marla's Weight Loss: The Journey 


meeting the mirror 
         Upon Marla's arrival at MeadowLark she needed to get to work on losing 400+ pounds! No small feat when her lameness prevented her from carrying a rider comfortably and lunging could damage her joints further due to the added stress of moving on a circle. We started with walks, lots and lots of walks. We walked around the barn and to the arenas. We met the mirrors and equipment in the indoor, we learned to cross tie and how to have our hooves picked. Marla hasn't quite gotten used to the trails, the isolation from other horses and unfamiliar surroundings still frighten her. This might be a good job to do with Dodger as he recovers from colic surgery: introduce Marla to the trails! 

        Along with frequent hand walks, I also encouraged Marla to free lunge and explore the indoor arena. This gave me the ability to get her trotting and cantering, but allowed her to navigate her own balance so she wouldn't fall or injure herself. She enjoys free lunging immensely. Her canter started out quite lateral but developed a clear three beats as she started to shed the pounds! I also developed an understanding of her "repertoire of behaviors", that will be essential to her future training. I was able to observe her reactions to my demands and challenges, gauge her submissiveness,  measure her spookiness, and see her excited bursts of energy, all safely from the ground. What I saw impressed me. Marla did not challenge me for dominance, although she was rather skeptical of me. I can't say I blame her though, I did have to "encourage" her around a bit to get her running by gesturing, clapping, vocal commands, or swishing a dressage whip. She and I would "join up" after she finished running around. Again, she didn't really trust me at first. I even had to lie down in the arena footing to get her to come over to me!

           Frequent hand walks and free lunging helped Marla to start to burn fat. Getting her out of the pasture multiple times a day, for short bursts of work that didn't over tax her joints was the primary game plan for conditioning. All of her scheduled activity was supplemented by her new life as member of a seven mare herd. Marla lives in a pasture 24 hours a day with her pasture mates. She enjoys rich social interaction with competition for food, status, and play.
         Due to her previous isolation, and new found socialization, Marla has a tendency to feel claustrophobic and anxious. She dislikes being in a stall and panics when being asked to go on the trails. Luckily she does not take issue to being cross tied or working alone in the arenas. She enjoys exploring the barn yard and seems to revel in the activity. She would get excited by the activity in the first months at MeadowLark, but seems to have settled in a learned to focus as her work load has increased.

No comments:

Post a Comment