On Tuesday I took Cisco into the arena with the intent of riding him. Jerry, the kitty, followed us out of the barn. I called him over to the arena, with the thought that at least I would know where he was and not worry about him suddenly popping through the door.
|He may look innocent, but he's not!|
I started with our normal routine of lunging in scary end. Cisco was distracted and not paying attention to me, and was much more concerned with staring into the end looking for something evil to pop out. I put a bit more pressure on him than normal to stay the hell away from me when he dropped his shoulder staring into the abyss when was on the far end of the circle. It got better, and we had some circles where he stayed out and stayed at the pace I wanted him to.
I took him right into the end and just hung out for a bit. He seemed to relax, and wasn't so concerned about just wanting to leave.
Up until this point, Jerry had been hanging out with Pony Grandma. Since I was now standing still, he decided to come all the way down to the other end of the arena to visit with me and Cisco. He perched on the fence, Cisco gave him some nuzzles, and I decided to head back down to the other end to hop on Cisco.
|Maybe snuggles are the problem....|
Jerry stayed on his perch as I headed down. This had me a bit nervous, as I wasn't sure what Cisco's reaction would be. I don't think he really noticed him.
But then it happened. Jerry, the snuggler, morphed into Jerry the Killer Kitty. And all Cisco's nightmares came true.
There are still pigeons roosting in the arena. They are annoying, and flap around and make noise and probably contribute significantly to Cisco's concern about the scary end, as that is where they like to hang out.
When Jerry jumped down from his perch on the fence, he stalked one of the pigeons that was on the ground. And amazingly, caught it. Well, sort of caught it. Caught it enough that the pigeon was injured, and could not fly.
Cisco saw Jerry race in to make his kill. All the way down at the other end of the arena. And immediately turned into a giraffe. A sweaty giraffe. That was incapable of using its brain for anything sensible. Sigh.
I led him down to the end to make him face his fear. Jerry was hovering over the injured pigeon on the other side of the half wall - I could see him, Cisco could not. Not that he was trying - he was desperately looking for a way out of the kill zone.
At one point Jerry popped out by the gates. With blood dripping off his fangs and a horse in his cross-sight. At least that's what Cisco thought, based on his reaction of flying backward in an attempt to get the hell out of there.
The pigeon eventually flopped his way down to the other end along the outside of the half wall, with Jerry following. Still terrifying, as we could only see them as they passed a gate opening, and then they would disappear.
At the far end, Pony Grandma managed to get the pigeon outside, and sent Jerry out with it. And she warned me that the Killer Kitty took off down the side of the arena, so be prepared for him to come through the hole in the door again. Which he did about 2 minutes later. And proceeded to look for the pigeon that he was sure was still down there.
I decided that I was not getting on Cisco, that tonight some groundwork would probably be a better idea. That hamster in his brain had hopped on that wheel and was running for its life, and it was going to be a bit before it slowed down.
Back down to the scary end. And I worked on getting his attention on me. Every time he would gawk and stare at the outside, I abruptly changed direction. Or stopped and backed up. It took a few minutes, but he did manage to relax. He actually relaxed sooner than I thought he would.
Next ride I will make sure that I leave Jerry locked up in the barn. And maybe I will find a way to cover that hole up.
And maybe I'll start to trust Cisco's instincts. If he ever meets a person he doesn't like, it's probably because that person is a serial killer.