Monday, July 31, 2017

Dante’s “Problem” Revisited

Dante’s “Problem” Revisited

Poor Dante.  After having some bad experiences where he tried to do his business in the river and got frightened by the plops splashing him, he seemed to decide he just wasn’t going to do it on the trail.

On the shorter rides, he could hold it in and wait until he got home.  We were able to avoid crossing the river where there was a ford, so that his nervousness, alone, didn’t make his digestive system start moving.  Still, that wasn’t the answer.  We wanted to go on longer rides, and when the river is low, it is safer to cross than the fords.

Someone suggested getting a large sponge which, when soaked, would make a perfect plop in the water.  Ellen ordered one.  We knew that we would have to practice it in the river to make it help us out, but to get used to it, a little, when Ellen would sponge him off after a hot ride, she would let it plop in the water bucket.

In the meantime, she decided to give him treats if he did his business on dry land.  Since he had done it once, already, we hoped that we would be able to capture the behavior enough to teach him what we wanted.

After one ride that was on the longer side, Ellen tried talking him into it.  We were on the last stretch of trail--the hill that led home.  She told him she would get off, give him treats and grab pieces of grass for him while she led him up the hill.  Talk about good timing--he did it!  She kept her word and got off, gave him treats and fed him pieces of grass all the way up.

Then, there was a dry spell for a while.  He went back to holding it until he got back to the barn.  We went on a longer ride--with no results--so we passed up home and rode to the dead end trail, again.  It worked!  He got a peppermint.  Peppermints are one of his favorite treats.

The next day, a miracle happened.  He did it shortly after Ellen mounted him.  He got his peppermint, and we were ecstatic.  We went on a very happy ride.  Ellen didn’t even worry when we crossed the rivers.  And then, another miracle happened.  He did it again, on the hill on the way home.  Dante scored another peppermint.

We thought all was fine--that Dante found the key to getting peppermints.  Then, the next day, nothing.  He waited until he got back to the barn.  No peppermints for Dante.

The following day, we went out for another ride in the park.  On the way home, Ellen suspected he had to go, so we did a lot of walking.  Nothing happened.  We came up to the river.  Though Ellen could have crossed on the ford, the water was lower than it has been all year.  She felt that she just had to deal with it.  

I crossed first and waited on the other side for them.  They slowly walked down the river bank--which was a good sign.  In the past, when he was worried, he was reluctant to go down the bank.  They then slowly walked across the water.  He seemed relaxed.  Ellen just wanted to get him past the center point where the remainder of the crossing is sand with no rocks.  If He decided to bolt through the water, he could do it safely.  

Since he looked so relaxed, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a disturbance in the water by his hindlegs.  Yes!  Dante was doing his business--and he just stood quietly to do it.  Ellen was so shocked, that she wasn’t able to give him a treat in time.  He just started walking across.  I may have imagined it, but he sure did seem to have a happy expression on his face when he got to the other side.  Dante figured it out!

We have decided that Dante’s “problem” is now a ‘non-problem”

The next ride--he did it right after Ellen mounted, again...

1 comment:

TeresaA said...

I'm glad that he sorted it out so quickly.