Little Man was out by the back fence, as usual. Kong wasn't there. I went out and called Kong, and he came running from the adjoining pasture. I clicked and treated him, then turned to find Little Man standing right behind me, wondering why I wasn't clicking and treating him!
For this session, which lasted at least 15 minutes, I shifted my focus to resting my hand on his forehead and his poll, just in case I should have an opportunity to get the halter either off or back on. He went through his daily wormer in nothing flat. Then I had to move to the pouch of feed. Of course, I alternated between Little Man and Kong. Kong isn't sure exactly what is going on yet, but he is proving to quite the able assitant. He has figured out that if I am facing him and he hears a click, he gets a treat. I think Little Man has figured out that if he hears a click when my back is to him, he doesn't get the treat. He stepped up right behind me and gently nudged me several times while I was treating Kong.
I did also lay my hand up on the buckle of the halter, just in case I was able to unbuckle it and take it off. Nope, I had to be content with touching it, and gently grasping it and exerting just the tiniest bit of pressure. For the whole session, I clicked while my hand was still on him, and then removed it after the click. I am thrilled with how well he is responding. He watched me very warily, but he allowed my hand to rest on the upper part of his head. I was careful to click if he started to show signs of distress. It seemed that sometimes he would be about to move his head away, but when I clicked he didn't. Also, if he looked pressured at all, I turned my attention to Kong and allowed Little Man to rest and regroup.
I finally was almost out of feed, so I had to stop. But he was doing so much better, and not jerking his head away. For the last time, I held my hand up on his poll even longer, then clicked and gave him a peppermint treat. I rubbed his forehead, prayed for his protection, and left.
I can hardly wait for our evening session!
Session #2 - midafternoon (after 3:00)
This one was impromptu. I wanted to see if Little Man's halter was okay, and I thought I would try brushing Kong (still wearing some of his winter coat) through the fence. So I grabbed a handful of hay and went out to the back fence, where they were hanging around together. I took my clicker training stuff, just in case. :-) (clicker on a wrist cord; fanny pack with feed, and a package of peanut butter crackers, just in case) I gave Little Man a bite of hay, then I walked over to the fence and gave Kong a bite. I started brushing Kong's neck through the fence, and almost immediately Little Man was standing right there. So, I decided to go ahead with a session.
I continued to work on resting my hand on the halter and the poll area. I kind of tested the waters some to see how he would take it if I tried to work with the halter. He did pull his head away some, and pie eyed me, so I just resumed resting my hand on him. I want to keep a close eye on him, and I want to get that halter off as soon as possible. But he is NOT running away from me now! The lure of the "click and treat" is too much for him, I guess. I hope he is learning that I am not going to hurt him.
Kong enjoyed being brushed, and he likes the "click and treat" game. I'm not really sure what to work on with him, because he loves to be petted. He does tend to grab at me though, looking for treats I suspect. So I worked with resting my hand on his jaw and holding it there, then clicking and treating when he was still. Little Man is started to edge closer and closer and reach out and lip for treats when it is Kong's turn.
Kong is just beside himself with joy at any attention he receives. He brayed when I started walking away. Little Man just regarded me thoughtfully.
I keep thinking how I was told that he was raised as a lap baby. He must miss that, and long to have it again. I'm going to keep working so he will believe he can have it with me!
Session #3 - a little before 7:00 p.m.
Little Man was out grazing in the pasture, and when he saw me walking out he headed over to the fence. :-) Seems he likes that classroom. Kong wasn't there, so I went to the fence and called him. He heard me, looked up and saw me, and once again came trotting up to the fence. Little Man came right up behind me, and we got to work. This time he was much calmer when I laid my hand on his head. I kept working, sometimes just resting my hand on him, and other times gently grasping the top band of the halter and applying just the slightest pressure. Sometimes he moved his head, and sometimes he didn't. I tried to not click if he moved his head, and he came back so I could touch him again! We worked about 10 - 15 minutes.
I held my hand up on the halter for a good length of time (for him, anyway) and gave him a very small peppermint treat. Then I thought, well, why not. I couldn't believe it, but I was able to grasp the halter, push slightly, and it slipped right back over his ear. He moved away from me, about 3 - 4 feet, but he did NOT whirl, kick, or run! What progress!!!
I held out the large peppermint treat, waited for him to move back to me and then I gave him his treat. I turned around and brushed Kong for a minute (he stood stock still, and really enjoyed it), and Little Man nudged me. I laid my hand up on his head, clicked and treated, then walked off.
My DH snapped some shots, but Little Man wouldn't let him get too close. He was very nervous and cautious about having DH out there. In spite of that, he worked with me and the halter is now back where it should be! I will keep working, and as soon as I can will get the halter OFF him!
Interestingly enough, after I moved off a bit, DH went over to the fence to pet Kong. Little Man walked up behind him! DH held out his hand, and Little Man sniffed in that general direction and tossed his head. He won't let DH touch him, though DH did rub his forehead for the very first time the other day, over the fence. Then DH couldn't leave because Little Man kept standing there. I finally had to walk back over. Little Man moved then, because he is VERY careful about allowing himself to get trapped.
I am absolutely amazed at how well Little Man is responding to clicker training! I don't even really know what I am doing, and he is responding!
Thank you to everyone who continues to encourage and advise me!
Blessings on you,