Session #1 - around 2:00 p.m.
I saw Little Man standing in the pen, so I got my things and went out.
By the time I got out, he was no longer in the pen, and I didn't see him. The pump house was probably in between us. I called him a couple of times, and all of a sudden I saw him tearing across the pasture. He stopped right at the side fence (the "other" neighbor), then he took off again. Again he came back to that fence, and stopped right up against it. He stood there a moment, then took off again. He ran and bucked, and ran and bucked, and ran and bucked some more. We've had some rain from Hurricane Dolly, so maybe he was glad it was cooler and the ground was softer. He finally stopped out by the back fence, gave a buck, walked around a moment, then just stood there.
I didn't want to go all the way out there, so I called him. I called him several times, but he walked all the way up the pasture to me! We worked with the halter again. I held it as though I were putting it on him, and he touched it. He seemed a bit shy of it today, so we worked just on targeting it when I held it out, and we worked on targeting the rope. I laid the rope over his face, which he did fine with. I held the rope up and let the end swing gently. He pie eyed it a bit, then touched it. So we worked on that a bit. I was able to touch the right side of his neck with it, but he would not let me touch the left side. He kept moving away. In fact, he insisted that I stand at the right side of his head, instead of the left, as he usually does.
He did back up bit by bit during the session, again. When he finally moved his head over and touched the rope with the left side of his face, he got a big peppermint treat. Then he got a cookie for something else. I ended the session by rubbing his face and stroking his neck, and even rubbing behind his ears. Then he got one more cookie.
The entire time he kept looking past me to my right, as though he were keeping his eye on something. Several times I just stood and waited until he brought his attention back to me. I never did figure out what he was looking at. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary, either in our yard or past our house. But I'm wondering if that is actually a good sign, that he though I was safe enough that he didn't have to watch me all the time. That is probably why he insisted that I stand on his right side, so he could keep an eye on whatever was towards his left.
Session #2 - around 6:30 p.m.
My husband was outside tending the birds, and I went out to work with Little Man. Little Man was standing right at the gate, watching my husband and the turkeys. David went up to him and held out his hand. Little Man sniffed at his hand, then tossed his head and wouldn't let David touch him. I walked up and went out the gate, and invited David to watch for a minute. I petted Little Man, then held up the halter and asked him to "touch it". He did, and David was suitably impressed.
"He knows what that means!" Well, yes.
I held the halter up to Little Man as though I were going to put it on him, and he put his muzzle down to it. I was able to get it up over his muzzle a little way, but he was still a bit hesitant. So I worked with laying the rope over his muzzle, and across his face about midway up. We only worked for a minute or two, and it started raining. So I held the rope up by the side of his head with the end swinging and had him target it. He pie eyed it, but I kept it there and he finally moved his head over and touched it. I gave him a cookie. Then I did it one more time. He tossed his head a couple of times, but finally touched it. I gave him a peppermint treat, patted him, then made for the house. He walked off a bit, then stood there just getting wet.
He seemed more focused on me this evening than he did this morning. I guess whatever he was watching this morning was gone, or else he was used to it. My husband didn't stay very long, probably around half a minute, but Little Man didn't seem to mind, since David was on the other side of the fence.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago