Session #1 - around 11:00 a.m.
Little Man was grazing in the pen, just a couple of yards from the gate. I walked out, talking to him, and stopped outside the pen, giving him the opportunity to come out the gate if he wanted. He just kept grazing. I walked in, sidestepping along the edge of the pen to leave the gate clear, then stopped and waited for him to walk out. He didn't. He just lifted his head and watched me. I waited to see if he would come to me, but he didn't. So I just walked up to him, and he put his muzzle out to me. I clicked and treated, then we got to work.
Since we may be a couple of days away from a hurricane, I decided this would be a good time to start working with the halter. I held it out, said "touch it", and he bumped his muzzle against it. He didn't seem to mind it any more than he did the brush. He did have some hesitation when I held it low, but he touched it every time but one. When I held it about his knee level, he moved towards it, but would not touch it. So I moved it up, and he touched it. He got a peppermint treat for that one.
Then I let him touch the lead rope, and I even stroked the rope down his face a couple of times. He backed up, but didn't leave. He got a cookie for letting me touch him with the rope.
In between times, I stroked and petted him, on the neck, cheeks, and face. He seems to really enjoy having his left cheek stroked. He rested his head in my hand while stroked his left cheek with my thumb. He seemed pretty calm, and as I was stroking him I saw no sign of his muscles tensing for flight. If I stroked his neck too long, he did move his head away, but he always brought it right back so I could pet his face.
When we were done I petted him for a minute or more, than gave him a cookie, patted his neck, and left. He slowly grazed his way out of the pen.
Session #2 - around 6:30 p.m.
Little Man was about 3/4 of the way back in the pasture, standing in the shade. I went out and called to him, then opened the gate and went out into the pasture. He started walking up towards me! I went in the pen and went over to say hi to the neighbor's goats. Little Man walked right in and came almost to me. I went up to him and petted him, then held out the halter for him to touch. He did, and we got started. I held the halter up (not too far, just a bit), down, to each side, then I started holding it below his muzzle. I held it as I would if I were about to put it on him, and he put his muzzle right down to it. I was a little slow getting the treats, and several times he reached his muzzle out to see if had them yet. :-)
Once, I was fumbling with the halter a little, opening up the knot, and he tired of waiting on me. So he pushed his muzzle out to touch the halter before I was even ready! He did back up a few times, but he didn't try to leave. The geese came up to the fence and honked very loudly, and Little Man pinned his ears back and dirty looked them. I went over and tried to shoo them away, but they don't take hints very well. Little Man went over and got a drink, and I thought he might leave, but he didn't. He dirty looked the geese again, then walked towards me. I met him part way, and we worked a little more.
I laid the lead rope over his nose, and he just waited for me to click and treat. When he let the rope stay there for several seconds, he got a peppermint treat. I petted him a little bit (I even rubbed up behind his ears, and clicked and treated for it), then gave him a bite of cookie so he would know we were done.
When I left he stayed in the pen, and started pawing at the ground, getting it just right so he could roll. I went back in the yard and watched him a bit, and he finally got it the way he wanted it and rolled a couple of times. Then I walked over the fence, and he came over to meet me! I petted him for a minute or two (he actually stayed there and let me, rather than backing off where I couldn't reach him!), then gave him another bite of cookie. He grazed his way out of the pen and started working his way back out in the pasture.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago