Session #1 - morning. I stroked him, touched his halter, clicked and treated. He is starting to jerk his head away and show his teeth, so I'm thinking that working with a target instead is a really good idea. I just need to figure out what that target is. I spent about 5 - 10 minutes with him, taking short breaks to pet Kong (the neighbor's donkey). At one point Little Man nudged my back while I was petting Kong. :-) When I left, he stayed out with Kong.
I was out in the yard with the birds (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys) and saw him walking up. He was going to his pen to get water. I didn't go back out. I figured he had had enough pressure for the time being, and should be able to drink in peace. I saw him watching me, though.
Session #2 - midday. Like yesterday, in the mid-afternoon he seemed nervous and skittish. We worked for a minute or two, then he whirled and ran off. He wouldn't come back, so I came on in.
Session #3 - early evening. Lasted just a minute or two. I chose a medium sized inflatable ball with a foam ring (one of the children's toys) for the target. He barely touched it with his nose once, I clicked and treated. Then he stood back and looked but wouldn't touch.
He moved away, I followed. I held it out. He barely touched it again, I clicked, and he whirled around and ran off. At least he didn't kick this time. I couldn't get close to him again, so I went in.
Session #4 - later in the evening, still quite light. This is usually his good time, so I was hopeful. I chose a different target. I wrapped a dish towel around the end of a half broom handle. He hates sticks, so I wasn't sure how it was going to work. I got close enough to click and treat, but only because I held it behind my back where he couldn't see it. I finally brought it out very slowly, being careful to hold it pretty near the towel so it didn't look as much like a weapon. He touched it with his nose once, I clicked and treated. He left, and I approached him again. I clicked and treated for every step he took my direction. But he wouldn't come near the target again. I kept walking around and approaching from the front, clicking every time he moved towards me. He finally trotted off and I just let him go.
So, I am left wondering what, if any, target I can use that he is not suspicious of. I am also wondering if I should just go back to rubbing his forehead and touching his halter. At least I won't have anything in my hand that he can perceive as something to hit him.
Blessings on you,
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago