Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 40

Session #1 - a little before noon

Little Man was fairly close to the fence when I went out. He walked part way than stopped and watched me. I stopped by a dirt mound and laid all my things down so I could decide what I wanted to do. I opted for the washcloth (lightly spritzed with marigold spray) first. Then I walked over to him and asked him to touch it. He did. I held it various places, then stroked it on his face, neck, and sides (about halfway back). I was able to stroke it on his back almost to his croup! I did this while standing beside his head, and facing his head.

He is still not quite comfortable with my standing beside him, and I must admit I am not either. I am beginning to think he is not likely to kick me, but since he has before and he still feels quite defensive, I don't like to take chances. Not only would it not do me any good, I think it would set him back if he kicked me, as well, so it's best for both of us if I don't put us in a situation where that would be likely.

I put the washcloth down and moved to the catch-'em halter. I had him target it, then I looped it and slipped it over his muzzle. I did this several times. He was very calm, and stood with his head still. I was able to move the loop pretty far up his face. The last couple of times I moved it around just a little bit. Then I slipped the loop on his muzzle and took a bit more of the halter and gently laid it against the right side of his face. (I wouldn't have been able to put it on him, as it is really just rope with a loop, but I wanted him to start getting used to feeling the rope come up the right side of his face.) He did fine the first time, as I didn't have it up very far. As I moved it farther up each time, he got a little nervous, and finally moved away from it. So I looped it over his muzzle again, then laid it down.

I then petted and stroked him, without the clicker, and then started clicking again when I moved my hand up to rub and rest on his crest. He is still moving his head away so he can pie eye me, but he is not moving out from under my hand.

Then my husband came out in the yard and asked how Little Man was doing, so I had to show him how Little Man let the rope loop over his muzzle. :-)

Before I left, I decided I would try to pet Little Man with both hands. He has thus far been adamant that he will not be touched with both hands at the same time. So I took the clicker off my wrist, and he heard the jingle of the little clip. I took the time to let him sniff it several times, shaking it first so it would jingle, then clicking after he touched it. The first time he touched it he jerked his head back, but I think he quickly figured out what it was.

I put the clicker in my pocket, then started gently stroking the front of his face. I alternated hands, moving slowly and making sure that both hands didn't touch him at the same time. Then I started overlapping, and then I gently put my hands on both sides of his face and just held them there a few seconds. I moved them before he decided to move, and gave him a large peppermint treat. He knew we were done, and moved off, though he circled around and came back so I could pet him once more.

Sometime between 4:00 and 6:00 I was outside tending the rabbit, and I looked up to see Little Man standing at the gate watching me. I went in the sunroom and grabbed the half full package of peanut butter crackers, then went out and petted him for a couple of minutes. I talked to him and we walked around a bit. I said "giddyup" when I started walking and he followed me, then I said "whoooa" right before I stopped, and he stopped too. He followed me back to the gate, and I gave him a last cracker.

Session #2 - around 7:30 p.m.

Little Man wasn't too far out, so I gathered my things and went out. He just kept grazing, though he looked at me when I called him. I sat on a dirt mound and just enjoyed the breeze, and after a couple of minutes he came up to me. I reached out and stroked him muzzle, then got up.

I had him target the washcloth a couple of times, and I stroked it on his face and neck. Then I got the catch-'em rope and looped it over his muzzle. He was fine with that. Then I put it over his muzzle and moved my hand to stroke the right side of his face, and he pulled his muzzle out. I slipped the loop over his muzzle a few more times, then rubbed the rope gently over the side of his face and his neck.

I then switched to the rope halter and lead, so I could use the soft rope. I stroked it on his face and neck, then laid it over his crest. He pie eyed it whenever it was up by his ears, and a couple of times he moved off. I kept working, slowly, and he settled down. Then I gently attempted to slide it off towards the front, and he pulled his head away and backed off. I decided that I should just start getting him used to having the rope touch his ears, so we started working on that. I looped the rope (the softest one I have) and gently touched it to his cheek and rubbed just a tiny bit. I progressed to moving it up closer to his ears, and finally right at the base of his ears, a bit towards the crest. He really pie eyed it, and kept stretching his neck and pulling the top of his head back and to the side. He didn't break contact, and as soon as he stopped moving away I would click. As we worked he moved away less and less. Of course, he got several cookies while we were working on this, as well as his feed. We ended with my laying a rope loop up behind his ear, and moving it gently up just a tiny bit so it was actually on his ear. I held it there for probably around 3 seconds, then I clicked and he received a large peppermint treat.

I worked on all this in stages, moving gradually from an "easy" spot to a "harder" spot. Tomorrow is his day off, so I think I'll try brushing him, or maybe just going out and petting him and walking with him a bit. He does enjoy attention, even if he is just not ready for a lot of physical attention. But he and I are becoming more confident of one another, and we are learning to read and trust one another.

I am so thankful I discovered clicker training! The book I ordered
(Clicker Training for Your Horse) will hopefully be shipped soon, so I can learn more about it and Little Man and I can have even more fun!

Day 39

Session #1 - around 10:30 a.m.

Little Man was up by the fence when I went out. I walked into the pen to say hi to the neighbor's goat, and Little Man walked in after me. We worked on targeting a washcloth. It was the one I put marigold spray on the other day, so there was probably some residual scent left on it. He targeted it in front of him, to the side, down low, and eye level and above. Then I gently wiped it on his face, neck and shoulders.

We switched to the lead rope, which I had draped around my neck. I looped it and slid it up over his muzzle, and he was very calm and still. Then I draped it over his crest and neck. He is still wary, and pie eyed it. He did stand for it, but he was very tense. I draped it over him and tried to reach under his neck to grasp the end, but he moved away until the rope came off. I held it in both hands, with about a foot of rope in between my hands, draped it over my head, slid it down over my face, and then moved it slowly towards his face. He would let me touch his muzzle and the front of his face with it, but backed off when I moved up towards his forehead. I went back to looping it around hs muzzle once or twice, then switched back to the rag.

I had him target the rag a couple of times, then I stepped back a couple of feet and asked him to touch it. He stepped up and touched it. Then I turned and walked off about 10 feet, turned back and asked him to touch it. He looked at me for a moment, then slowly walked all the way over and touched the rag. I gave him a peppermint treat, then petted him for a minute or two. I gave him another peppermint treat to finish, patted his neck, and left. He went over to get a drink.

Mid day around 5:00 p.m.

Little Man was close to the fence, so I grabbed the peanut butter crackers and the soft brush and went out to say hi. He came right up to me, but he didn't want to be brushed. He kept moving away, so I put the brush away and just petted him. I asked him to walk with me, and he did. We walked around a minute or two, with him right behind me. When I wanted to stop I said "whooooa". I figure it can't hurt to get him to associate that with stopping.

Something interesting happened while I was petting him. I was standing right in front of him, with my back to the yard. Suddenly he spooked, but in place. His whole body jumped, but his feet stayed put.

I jumped in place too, as his jumping startled me. I saw him looking intently past me, and turned around to see a truck coming down the street. What had spooked him was a neighbor's dog dashing across the front yard. The dog had come out of nowhere.

I petted him a little more, then came on in. During the course of petting him, I gave him some peanut butter cracker bites. Before I left I gave him a couple of whole crackers. I was careless and my fingers went in his mouth, but he was careful not to bite me. He is so gentle.

Session #2 - a little before 8:00 p.m.

Little Man was fairly close to the fence, so I went out and sat on a dirt mound. He came up towards me and I got up before he reached me. I tend to lurch when I try to get up and didn't want to startle him. Tonight I had the catch'em halter, the rope halter and lead, and the washcloth (which I had spritzed with a tiny bit of marigold spray).

We started by targeting the washcloth a few times, and then I stroked it on his face and neck. Then I took the catch-'em halter and slipped a loop over his muzzle. I did this several times, and he was very calm; he didn't even pull away. I dropped the catch-'em halter and went to the rope halter. He let me slip the nosepiece up over his muzzle and hold it there for a couple of seconds. We did this several times, and again he was very calm. He did back up off and on, but he never pulled his muzzle out of the loop.

Then I decided to see what he would do if stood on his left side, held the halter with my left hand, and gently laid the halter against the right side of his face. He moved his head just a little, but did not break contact. I did it again, and reached over his crest with my right hand. No, he didn't like that and he backed right out from under my hand. He walked off, and I figured that meant he had had enough of that. So I dropped the halter, and pulled out the washcloth. I moved towards him and he met me partway. We targeted the washcloth a couple of times, then I rubbed his forehead with it and gave him a cookie.

I petted him for a minute, then finished by sliding my hand up his forehead and rubbing between his ears, then sliding my hand around the base of his left ear and rubbing his crest. He pie eyed me a little, but let me rub. I gave him a large peppermint treat and told him what a smart, good boy he is!

Day 38

Session #1 - around 4:00 p.m.

Little Man was way out in the back of the pasture; I couldn't see him, so I don't know exactly where he was. But I called him and he came up, coming right into the pen with me. Today I decided we were going to take it easy. I took out the soft brush, and had him target it a couple of times. Then I brushed both sides of his neck, his shoulders, his withers and a few inches down his back, and his sides just a bit past his shoulders. He moved around some, so I didn't push it. I stroked the brush on his cheeks, down his face, and up his forehead. He didn't like it on his forehead, so I clicked for his letting me just rest the brush on his forehead.

Then I went back to targeting. I stepped away and had him walk up to touch the brush. I held it high, to the side, and low. I experimented with putting it on the ground and asking him to touch it, but he kept trying to touch my hand. I did click for movement towards the brush on the ground.

In between I rubbed his forehead, and petted and stroked him. When we were done, I petted him for a minute, then gave him a peppermint treat.

Session #2 - around 6:30 p.m.

Little Man wasn't too far out, and I walked out and sat on a dirt mound. He walked up to me, and stretched out his muzzle, but didn't get right up to me. He wasn't sure why I was sitting down, I guess.

I had him target the lead rope, and I worked with draping it over his neck and crest, even his withers once. Each time he pie eyed it, and appeared relieved to hear the click when it came. He moved away several times, and he stood several others. I also worked with looping the rope over his muzzle. He did much better with that, and was pretty calm.

In between I petted and stroked him, and patted his shoulder. When we were done I dropped the lead rope and just talked to him and petted him a bit. I rubbed behind his ear, and he angled his head so I could get just the right spot! I gave him a couple of peppermint treats before I left.

Day 37

Session #1 - a little after 1:00 p.m.

Little Man came up as soon as I went out and called his name. He targeted the lead rope a few times. Then I rubbed his cheek and neck with it, and worked on laying it over his crest and over his face. I even laid it over his withers a couple of times. I tried leaving the rope over his crest once while I treated, but as soon as he took his treat he started slowly moving to the right until it pulled off. I pulled gently to help it come off better. He wasn't panicky, just determined that he was going to keep moving until it was off. Then he turned and moved back to me so we could "play" some more. I looped the rope over his muzzle, and laid it over his crest again.

I stepped back and held out the rope, and asked him to "touch it". He stepped up to it and targeted it. I did this several times, once from about six feet away, and he stepped up to it every time.

We finished with a couple of cookie bites and a peppermint treat. In between I stroked his face, neck, shoulders, and withers. And I rubbed his ears, around the base. I even rubbed for a couple of seconds on the outside of his ear. He's not exactly comfortable with it yet, but he tolerated it and seemed to almost enjoy it.

Session #2 -

Little Man came up when I called him, but he stopped before he got to me. I waited a few seconds, then went on out to him. I brushed him for a minute, without clicking, but he kept moving away, so I stopped. I had him target the lead rope a few times, then worked with laying it over his crest and neck. He would move, then freeze when I clicked. He knows that when I click, whatever we are doing is done, and I will release the pressure (in this case, the rope over his neck). I would gently slide the rope off then treat him. I worked with this a bit, then stepped away and asked him to target the rope. He stepped up to it and touched it. Then I asked him to touch it and moved away a step or two as he started walking towards it. He walked with me and touched the rope, and got a cookie bite.

I brushed him again, without clicking, but again, he moved away. So I stopped and petted him, stroking his face, neck, and shoulders, and patting his neck and shoulders. I left, and stopped a little ways from him. He walked up to me, and I petted him a little more and gave him a peppermint treat. Then he walked off.

I think what we have been doing is actually pretty intense for him, and I may back off a bit tomorrow. I may either go out and brush him, using the clicker, or we may just play with targeting the rope or something else. I think that backing off is an important part of any training, as it allows time for lessons to settle and be internalized.

Day 36

Session #1 - a little before 4:00 p.m.

I looked out the window and saw Little Man trot up into the pen. He bucked and kicked a little, and pawed the ground then rolled around a bit. It has rained a little bit, and there is a breeze, so he must be feeling frisky.

I took my things out, and he walked out of the pen and stood beside it. I went in the pen for a second to check his water, and he started to follow me in. But I went out past him because the pen was muddy. He turned around and followed me. We worked right outside the pen, and he was eager to touch the halter. He was moving his muzzle towards it before I was even ready to start. I held it in various places, and he touched it. He lipped it a couple of times; I think he wanted to play.

I looped the rope around his muzzle, and he did fine. Then I started working on touching the rope to his neck. He was a bit shy of that, but I just kept the rope in position and waited, and he eventually moved his head back every time. I eventually laid the rope across his crest from his left side, with the end hanging down about 6 - 8 inches on the right side of his neck!

Then we worked on slipping the nosepiece of the halter over his muzzle. He wasn't as willing to do that, but we did get it part way up. I worked just a couple more times with laying the rope up over his crest. He was a little shy this time, but it may have been because my husband walked up to the fence about that time. When Little Man moved away, I just held the rope and waited, and he came back. I laid it over his crest, and treated him with a peppermint treat.

In between times I petted him, but I was very careful. He has dried mud all over him, and I was careful to not run my hand over it, as he tends to shy away if he feels the least little prick or pull. His face was clean, though, so I rubbed his forehead and stroked the front of his face a lot. We ended with my running my hand up from his forehead, and rubbing between his ears. He did raise his head and pie eye me a little bit, but he stayed put. So he got a peppermint treat for a job well done.

Session #2 - around 6:00 p.m.

Little Man was up in the pen again, so I went out. I waited by the gate, and he came out of the pen and walked to me. Tonight I had the catch-'em rope and a regular, 7-foot lead rope. We worked with the catch-'em rope first. I had him target it, the I worked on laying it across his crest and letting it hang on the other side of his neck. I left the rope on his neck while I treated him, just to see what he would do. After he took his treat, he started moving sideways. I gently pulled the rope and it slid off his neck. I decided not to leave it on again, but really I think he did fine. I laid it over his crest again a few times, then when I slowly pulled the rope off his neck the ring caught his mane a bit. So I ditched the catch-'em rope and went to the lead rope, using the soft rope end, not the end with the metal clip.

He targeted it, then I rubbed it on his cheek and neck. I then laid it over his crest. I worked on having a longer and longer tail, until I could reach under his neck and grasp the end. I did, and held the end along with the rope on the near side. He was "caught"! I immediately clicked and let go, then slid the rope off. I did this several times. He began to move away, though he wasn't panicky. I gave him a cookie after the last time. He walked off, and I talked to him. He came back, I petted him and gave him a peppermint treat. He turned and walked off, because school was over!

I am very pleased with how well he is doing. I figure that he may not be ready for a halter, but if I can get a rope around his neck, that is a huge step in the right direction. Sometime soon, I will work on holding out my hand and letting him walk with me. We used to do that, and we haven't in a while. Then eventually I hope to be able to put the two together - the rope around his neck and having him walk with me.

Day 35

Session #1 - around 1:00 p.m.

Things are brief today, as we are busily preparing for an imminent tropical storm/possible hurricane. But I saw Little Man up getting a drink, so I grabbed my things (which I prepare the night before, with wormer, feed, and treats) and went out. I walked in the pen with him, moving around the fenceline so he could get out if he wanted. He did. I went over and petted the goats for a minute, but he didn't come back in. So I went out to meet him. I had him target the halter, to the side, low, high. He shied away a little when it was high, but he did touch it.

Then we played "peek-a-boo". I draped the halter over my head, so it hung down in front of my face, then I moved it so he could see me. He was very interested in what I was doing, and kept pushing his muzzle out as though he wanted to touch the halter while it was on my head. Then I laid it up in front of his face. The first time he snorted and shied away. Then he slowly turned and came back to play some more. I managed to lay it on his muzzle, and clicked. Then I worked my way up, laying it gently against his muzzle and sliding it up, a bit more each time. Before each try I put it on my own face several times, then moved it so I could "peek-a-boo".

Then I worked on touching the nose piece of the halter to his muzzle. Then I switched to the soft lead rope, and just looped it. I did manage to get the loop most of the way around his muzzle. The last time he pulled away with the loop still on him, but he stopped. I clicked and slipped the loop off, and gave him a cookie bite. He moved away, and I stood and talked to him. He walked back and I petted him a minute, then gave him a peppermint treat.

In between times, I stroked his face, neck, and shoulder, and patted his neck.

He seemed to enjoy "peek-a-boo", at least when I was the one "peeking". When I had the halter over my face, his ears were pricked forward. Usually when we are working, his ears are back - not flattened, just back some. I'm not sure why I thought to do that. I just thought that he might feel better about it if he saw the halter draped over my face first.

Session #2 - 7:15 p.m.

I went out to tie the water buckets to the fence, and bring the feed bucket and hanging strap in. Little Man came up, and he seemed to want to interact. He followed me over to the gate, and stood there waiting for me to come back out. I just took the brush. I brushed both sides of his neck, his shoulders, and his back from his withers about halfway down his back. I ran the brush up from between his eyes towards his forelock, but he didn't like that much. I clicked as soon as I started moving the brush. He just moved his head, he didn't break contact, and he was rewarded with a cookie bite.

I finished up by running my hand from his neck to his crest, then rubbing his crest a couple of times. He got cookie bites for that. The last time I ran my hand from his forehead up to between his ears, and rubbed his crest. Then he got a peppermint treat.

Tomorrow we probably will not work at all. If the storm is not too bad, I will try to get out and at least give him his wormer. But if it is bad, it shouldn't hurt him to miss one day.

Day 34

Today was Little Man's day off, so we just took it easy.

This morning, before church, I called to him out the window. He looked up, and walked to the fence, where he stood looking towards the house. So I grabbed a cookie and went out. I petted him over the fence, and gave him cookie bites. Then I patted his neck and went in.

This afternoon, around 2:00 or so, I went out with his wormer. I called him, and he walked up to meet me. He followed me in the pen, and I petted him for a little bit. Then I put the wormer in the bucket and went in, because the mosquitoes were biting me.

This evening, around 7:00 or so, I went out with a big shredded wheat biscuit and the soft brush. He was way out in the back, but he came up when I called him. I petted and stroked him, and brushed him. He let me brush his neck and shoulders, and even from his withers about six inches or so down his back, as well as down his side. He did back up and move around a little, and about halfway through he decided he didn't want me to brush his right side right then, but he didn't run off or show signs of kicking. He did move away once, a couple of yards, but I just stood and talked to him until he came back up to me. I stopped brushing every once in a while to give him a bite of shredded wheat. I rubbed his face and rubbed his ears. I tore open the paper wrapper so he could get all the wheat leavings. Then I petted him a little more.

My husband came out, and when I went in the gate Little Man followed me. He sniffed my husband's hand, and tossed his head a bit. Then he let my husband reach out and rub his forehead several times! When my husband left I petted Little Man a bit more, then told him good night. He dropped his head and grazed by the fence for a while.

I am so thankful that we are friends again!

Day 33

Session #1 - around noon

Little Man walked up just a little ways, and I walked out towards him.

He circled then walked away. We kept playing "tag", and I actually got close to him a few times. I had the little face brush with me, because I thought he might be more comfortable targeting an object rather than my hand. He targeted it a couple of times, stretching his neck out to get the treat, then walked off. We did this several times, and finally he ended up at the very back of the pasture under the trees. I walked around, talking softly, and he kept moving to avoid me. I squatted down for a few minutes, and talked softly to him every once in a while. Then I got up and walked towards him.

I put the face brush in my pocket, and just held out my hand. He stretched to target it, and he gradually came closer, just an inch or so at a time. Finally I laid my fingertips just above his muzzle. I worked my way up to laying my hand on his forehead, then his cheek, then running it to his neck. I ended with moving my hand from his cheek to his crest, and resting my hand on it. I did this twice. I wanted to end with something that was really an achievement for him, that would merit a cookie bite (the first time) and then a peppermint (the second time, which lasted longer).

I walked on back to the yard, and he slowly made his way up to the pen to get a drink. He hung around in the pen for a while, but I didn't go back out. I figured that, as in show biz, it's best to "leave them wanting more." :-)

The entire time he swished his tail, stamped his back feet, and kept turning his head back to bite at insects. I feel terrible that they are tormenting him so. But I'm not sure that an hour or two of relief is worth damaging our tenuous relationship. Maybe I'll try hanging the clicker around my neck, and wearing a cloth glove on my left hand. I can put some marigold spray on it, and try to stroke him with it. Then I can treat with my right hand, and it won't have spray on it. He may not like the smell, but it might be worth a try, once he is comfortable with my touching him again. I'm hoping that, as smart as he is, he will make the connection between being stroked with the "smelly stuff" and having insect relief.

Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.

Little Man was way out at the back fence, but he came up when I called him! I walked in the pen and petted the neighbor's goat through the fence, and Little Man walked right in and up to me. I held out my hand, and clicked when he touched it. I was able to touch him tonight!

I touched his face, his cheek, moved my hand to his neck, and his shoulders. I also moved my hand up to rest between his ears, and on his crest from each side. He was pretty wary of my hand up by his ears, and he pulled away and backed up several times. But I didn't click, and waited for him to come back. Then I held my hand so that when he moved his head towards it he would touch my hand up on his cheek. I ended with resting my hand on his crest several times, and making sure he was treated with some cookie bites. The last time I held it at least five seconds, and he got a peppermint treat.

Day 32

Well, today was really not a good day. Little Man has regressed since we had our visitor the other day, and it is as almost as though we haven't worked together at all. We finally got a little rain last week, the mosquitoes are out in force, and he is constantly covered with them. They are so big, that I have been thinking they are flies. It was just last evening that I realized they were mosquitoes.

This morning, sometimes between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m., I went out, and Little Man wouldn't come near me. He wouldn't let me come near him either. I walked around a bit, and talked to him, and he finally barely touched my hand with his muzzle. I clicked and treated. Twice was all he would do, then he ran off.

This afternoon, around 5:00 I went out again, and he was covered with mosquitoes. They are driving him to distraction. I just put his wormer in the bucket and hung it on the fence. I stood on the other side. He came up to get his wormer, and I reached over and patted and stroked his neck. I decided to go get the marigold spray and see if I could just spritz it in the air and hopefully have some of it land on him. Well, the instant I pulled the lever, he ran off. He ran all the way back to the back of the pasture.

This evening, around 8:00, I went out with my clicker and fanny pack. I thought we would just work on having him target my hand and maybe I could pet him a little. He kept walking in circles to avoid me, so I just sat on a dirt hill for a bit, and he came towards me. He stopped a couple of yards from me, and wouldn't come any closer. I got up and he circled again, but I was finally able to get close enough to extend my hand and ask him to touch it. He finally barely touched my hand, so I clicked and treated. I managed to stroke his face, but he kept tossing his head, and reaching back to bite at his side and back.

I reached out and brushed a mosquito off his neck, and blood smeared on his neck. He jumped away and pie eyed me, and kept tossing his head. He would barely let me touch his neck, and he kept jumping away. He did "check out" a couple of times, turning and staring at some people walking down the street. He also watched the neighbor across the street, and brinnied. I think he wants the company of her horses, which he can sometimes see from our pasture, depending on where they happen to be. I finally thought perhaps I could spray a little marigold spray on a rag and wipe his face and neck, and that would help with the mosquitoes. So I went in to get the stuff, and I sprayed the rag before I went out the gate. I left the spray bottle sitting in the yard.

He wouldn't let me near him. I held the rag in front of me, so he would see it. I didn't want to suddenly surprise him with it. I try not to sneak things around him, because he shies so much at surprises. I tried to approach him several times, and even told him I wanted him to touch it, so he would know what I expected. He took off each time, trotting as far away as the fence would allow. I finally gave up.

I think perhaps I will give him the entire weekend off, instead of just Sunday. So maybe tomorrow I will just put his wormer in his bucket, and let him come get it when he wants. I don't know if he thinks I am responsible for the mosquitoes, or if all the regression is due to our having company. (He regressed completely when she came out once before, a month after I got him. And until clicker training we never got back to where we were.) I almost didn't take her out the other day, but Little Man has been doing so well. He didn't have any problem when my husband and the man down the street were standing in the yard a couple of weeks ago, and he really dislikes and distrusts men. So I thought he might do okay, as long as I took the clicker and kept doing what we've been doing.

Maybe tomorrow I can shut the gate to the pen while he is in there, and I can stand and talk to him a bit from the other side of the fence. Whenever he is nervous, he tends to be more comfortable when the fence is between us.

I feel terrible about taking a visitor to see him, and about the mosquitoes that are bothering him so badly. I won't take visitors out in the pasture anymore, but I don't know what to do about the mosquitoes. He just won't let me spray him, and anything I try just alienates him more.
Session #1 - around 10:30 a.m.

Little Man was standing in the pen, by the water buckets. When I went out he walked out of the pen and stood beside it. I went in, but he didn't follow me, so I went out and walked over to him. We worked with the catch 'em rope again. He targeted it various places, though he shied a bit and pie eyed it when it was held high. I just waited for him to be ready to touch it. I stroked the rope over both sides of his neck, and even ran it along his back, a couple of times almost to his rump!

He really shied away from it when I held it up behind his ears. I am working on clicking at just the right moment, but I need work. He just was not comfortable with the rope up by the top of his head, so I held it to the side about eye level, and asked him to touch it. I clicked whenever he moved and touched the rope with any part of his head.

We finished up with slipping a loop over his muzzle. We did this several times, and he did really well. The last time I was able to slip the loop up, click, and slip it off without his tossing his head around.

In between times I petted and stroked him, and rubbed his ears. I even ran my hand along his back! I started at his neck, and ran my hand to his withers then past them for probably about six inches. And I was able to stroke down his side from his back. I didn't click for any of that; it was just petting. But he tolerated it!

Session #2 - about 3:30 p.m.

I wasn't planning on going out in the hot afternoon, but Little Man was grazing fairly close to the fence, so I decided to go ahead. I took the soft brush and the face brush. When I approached him he circled then came up to me. We targeted the brush a couple of times, then I stroked it on both sides of his neck. I also stroked it down the front of his neck to his chest, ending at the top of his right foreleg.

Then I switched to the face brush. He wasn't as comfortable with having his face brushed. He tolerated having it stroked down the front of his face, below eye level, but he balked at having it go up. We worked a bit, and he was doing better. Then as I ran the brush up and clicked, the very end of the stroke caught his forelock. I don't think it hurt, but it did "pull" the forelock up in the bristles. He whirled and ran off several yards, giving a small kick right before he stopped.

Since I had clicked, I just stood with his treat in my hand and waited. He pie eyed me a minute, then started grazing. I kept waiting. He slowly grazed his way over, and finally stretched out his neck and took the treat. We worked a little more, starting over with targeting the face brush. I held it slightly above eye level for him to target. He pie eyed it and tossed his head, but he eventually touched it every time.

I wanted to end with a positive experience to counteract the negative one, so I kept working until I was twice able to gently stroke the face brush up from between his eyes. I stopped before I reached his forelock though! Then I gave him peanut butter cracker halves, which according to Little Man is the treat of treats!

I stood and petted him for a moment, then gave him a peppermint treat to end the session.

He may be extra wary because we had company yesterday. Our guest was actually the only one who could do anything with him when my friends had him, so I know she has never hurt him. But I'm guessing he remembers she helped to get that halter on him and get him in the trailer when they brought him over here! Even though it wasn't a bad thing, he probably perceived it as such. Yesterday and today were the first kicks he has offered since we started clicker training. And he kicked from a distance, so they were more warnings than threats.

Session #3 - around 7:30 p.m.

Little Man was up at the fence when I went out. He was distracted throughout the entire session. He spent a lot of time looking either past the house to across the street, or back at Kong's pasture. The rancher was out moving the cows, and I saw him walking along the fence line, with Kong right his heels like a puppy. Little Man alternated between watching them, and watching the neighbor across the street walking her old gelding (he is having trouble with colic tonight). He called to them with a long, pitiful brinney.

He wouldn't come up to me and touch the rope, so I just hung it on the gate. Then he came up and we just worked on my touching his crest. I touched it from both sides, and from in front. He was able to let me rest my hand on it, and rub it. He still tosses his head, but it was better tonight. In between times I rubbed his neck and shoulders.

He walked up to me when we were done, and put his nose out to the rope, so we worked with it for a minute or two. I had him target it a couple of times, then we worked with putting the loop around his muzzle. It was a fairly large loop, so it wasn't snug at all. He pulled his muzzle out a couple of times, but we just kept working. A couple of times he pulled his head away after I clicked, and took the loop with him. But he didn't panic, and I just slid it down his muzzle. That was very encouraging, because a month ago he would have jerked his head at the slightest pull.

He was also very distracted by the big, nasty, black mosquitoes that were all over him. After we were finished, I went in and got the spray to see if he would tolerate it anywhere. I let him sniff the bottle, but when no click and treat were forthcoming he let me know he wasn't playing that game. I spritzed a little on the brush and he turned around and left. I didn't figure he would let me spray him, but I thought I might be able to brush a little on him. Nope. He didn't like or trust that bottle!

Day 30

Session #1 - around 2:30 p.m.

I was out in the front yard and Little Man saw me. He was standing at the fence waiting for me, and he brinnied when I started walking towards him. I petted him over the fence for a couple of minutes, and then went to get my gear. I walked in the pen, but he wouldn't come in, so I walked out and met him outside the pen.

Today I decided to take the "catch-'em" halter I got. It's just a rope with a ring on one end. You slide it around the neck, push a loop through the ring and slip the loop over the nose. We're not ready to actually do that, but I thought it might put less pressure on him than a real halter.

I held the end of the rope out, and asked him to touch it. He eyed it, but touched it readily. After moving it around a couple of times, I held it in a coil, and we kept working. I held it to each side, down low, and up high. He tossed his head a bit when it was low, but touched it. When I held it up high I must have moved a little too fast. He shied back a few feet and pie eyed it. I just held it, asked him to touch it, and waited. He slowly moved back, and slowly reached out his muzzle and touched it. I held it high a couple more times, then started working on touching his neck with it. He shied a couple of times, but he accepted it more readily than he has in the past. I stroked it down each side of his neck, not quite to the shoulder.

Then I touched it to the crest of his neck, on each side of his neck. He pie eyed it, and stepped sideways a bit, but I was able to do it. I didn't click whenever he shied away; I just waited for him to come back and try again. And he did! Then I moved it up his face to between his ears. Again, when he shied I just waited, and he came back to try again. He got a peppermint treat to end, after letting me run the rope up to between his ears.

He turned abruptly after the last peppermint treat, and walked off a couple of yards and started grazing. It was a short session, but it was actually pretty intense. He did very well, and I am so pleased that he is so willing to come back and keep trying when something is new and scary. I think this evening I may take it easier, and just play "touch it" with the rope in different places. Perhaps I will step back and see if he will step up to touch it.

Session #2 - around 4:30 p.m.

I wasn't going to work with Little Man so soon, but my friend's daughter (the one who gave us Little Man) was across the street, and wanted to come see Little Man. So I grabbed my gear on the way out. When he saw us, he walked away. I went up to him, and he was wary. I petted him a little, but when she stepped towards him he turned and ran off kicking.

We went over to where Kong usually stands, though he was in another pasture, and Little Man followed us. I asked her to stay back while I went over and petted Little Man, and I clicked and treated when he touched my hand. We targeted the brush several times, then I brushed both sides of his neck. I stepped back, and held out the brush, and asked Little Man to come and touch it. He walked up to it and touched it! He got a cookie for that!

I gave our visitor a peppermint treat and had her hide it. I had her hold out her hand, and asked Little Man to touch it. He worked up to it, but he did it. As soon as he made contact with her hand, I clicked, and had her hold out the treat. We did that twice. She actually tried to give him a treat before we targeted her hand, but he wouldn't take it until we used the clicker.

I petted him and told him what a smart boy he is. He got a cookie to finish.

Session #3 - around 7:00 p.m.

Little Man came up when I called him, and came into the pen with me, where I was petting the neighbor's goat. We worked with the catch-'em rope again. He targeted it on either side, low, and high. I touched it to his neck and shoulders, and even his back! Towards the end I held it up by his crest, which he shied away from. But I didn't click for that, and waited for him to come back and try again. We ended with my touching the coiled rope up by his crest a couple of times, for which he got cookie bites.

I petted him for a few minutes, stroking his face and neck, and rubbing his ears. I was even abale to stroke my hand past his shoulder to his side! I gave him a peppermint treat so he would know we were done.

I don't want to pressure him, but I feel he is doing really well. And he is pretty good about telling me if I push more than he is ready for.
I feel that we are learning to read each other, and that we are truly building a relationship now. I am SO thankful I was led to clicker training! What a blessing it is!

Day 29

Session #1 - around 3:30 p.m.

Little Man was way out in the back of the pasture, in the shade. He came right up when I called him. I went ahead into the pen and petted one of the neighbor's goats, and Little Man walked in when he came up. He glared at the goat for a minute, then turned to me. He touched the brush immediately. After letting him touch it three times, I stroked it on the right side of his neck. He did well. I was able to brush him for longer periods, even up to five or six strokes before clicking.

I made sure I clicked in the middle of the most intimidating stroke, back near his withers or down his side behind his shoulder. Then I moved to his left side. Interestingly enough, he has been reluctant to let me brush his left side. But he used to insist that I stroke him on his left side and not his right. I'm pretty sure he was probably hit from the left side, so when I have something in my hand he doesn't like it there.

He let me brush him, though on the left side he moved his head over to the brush and tried to target it. I just ran it gently over his cheek and down his neck, and to his shoulder. I was cautious, though, because I know how quickly he can whirl and kick! He didn't even move away while I was brushing, though he did back up in between times. He went through the wormer pretty quickly, and I started being a little bolder when we got to the feed. When I brushed his withers or side, I made sure he had a cookie bit. I decided to go for "a big one", and I was able to brush down from his withers about halfway down his side. He got a large peppermint treat for that one, and I called it quits. It is pretty hot outside, so I didn't figure we needed to work long. I petted him a moment, then I left and he went to the bucket to get a drink. I think I am going to move back to the halter, either tonight or tomorrow. I don't know that I want to do too much brushing while he is free to whirl and kick me. I know I would feel a bit more confident if he was tied and that front end was secured. And I think he likes it when we do different things. Of course, that could just be me. :-)

Session #2 - around 7:30 p.m.

Little Man was way out in the pasture, but he came up when I called him. He walked almost to me, then stopped a few feet away. I stepped over and met him. I decided to keep working with the soft brush, but I took the little face brush out as well. He seemed eager to target the brush, and had his muzzle on it before I even got it to where it was going. I held it down almost to the ground, and though he tossed his head once, he did target it. I held it up, and he eyed it a few seconds, then touched it. I brushed it on both sides of his neck, both his shoulders and past both shoulders.

I put the brush in my pocket and pulled out the small face brush. He targeted that a few times, then I stroked it on his face. I stroked it down the front of his face, on both cheeks, on his jaw, and up his forehead to his fluffy forelock. He pulled his head up and pie eyed me when it got up to the forelock, but he didn't break contact.

After we worked with that a few times, I put it in my pocket and got out the soft brush again. I stroked both sides of his neck again. He was more receptive to being brushed on his right side than his left. On his left he kept turning his head to bump the brush, but I just slid it over his face and down his neck, and didn't click until I brushed where I wanted. He backed away a few times, but I didn't click. I stood and waited for him to come back, which he did. I was able to brush several inches beyond his shoulder, for which he got a cookie. Then, on his right side, I was actually able to brush along his back from his withers! I brushed probably five or six inches past his withers. He got a large peppermint treat for that and we called it a night. I moved away a few feet, and he came up to me, tossing his head and trying to find something he could target. I petted him, and he tossed his head and decided it was time to graze, so he moved over a few feet and dropped his head. He did come up to the gate as I was chaining it, and I pulled a handful of grass from the yard and fed it to him. Then he was done and strolled off a ways.

Several times while we were working this evening, he took his attention off me and stared across the street. Some neighbor children were out playing in the street, and he watched them intently. I stood and waited for him to focus on me again. I didn't want to startle him in any way, and I want him to know he can trust me to not sneak up on him. Once he stood for well over a minute, just staring. I finally called his name and he turned his head towards me; he walked up to me and we kept working.

I am amazed that I was able to brush him on his back! I admit I was wondering how he was going to react to that. I didn't think he would turn and kick, but it never hurts to be vigilant. But I clicked just as soon as the brush moved past his withers, and though he eyed me intently he stood there while I finished the stroke then reached for his treat. I am also trying to not be too tentative with the brush. I'm not rough with it, but I'm trying to use firm but gentle strokes. And I'm taking care to gently slide the brush into contact with his skin, rather than just plunking it down. Once I accidentally bumped his neck with the wooden part of the brush, and he didn't even flinch! Before, if that happened he would take off. We are making so much progress!

Tomorrow I may go ahead and take the halter back out, now that I have had the face brush on his face and the soft brush on his shoulders and back. That will give him a break from brushing, and let us work a bit more on contact with the halter and rope. When I move back to the brush, I will try the stiff bristled brush next. Eventually I will move to the rubber currycomb. He has let me use all three brushes on him before, though never past his shoulder, but he has never let me touch him with that currycomb. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to do it with the clicker. I'm in no hurry though. I am enjoying building a relationship with him, and I am amazed at the fact that I can actually interact with him!

Day 28

Yesterday, since it was Sunday, I gave Little Man the day off. I gave myself the day off too, and didn't even turn on the computer to type until today. I went out yesterday midafternoon and he was out in the shade in the back corner, visiting with Kong. Kong brayed so loudly when I approached the fence that he almost blew me over! He seemed quite glad to see me. I petted him, carefully, and gave him a few pieces of the green stuff he likes so much. Little Man came over to me too. I gave him his daily wormer in the bucket, but he wouldn't eat all of it. When I reached in and scooped it in my hand, though, he ate it right up. I petted him and talked with him a bit, then gave him a bite of cookie and said goodbye.

I went out again in the early evening, and he came up when I called him. I thought he wasn't going to at first, but he must have known it was his day off, so he took his time. :-) I petted him and stroked him, and gave him a bite of peanut butter cracker (probably his very favorite treat) now and then. I even rubbed his ears! I rubbed the base of the ears, and even up the ear a little. He will not let me touch the inside of his ears, but he is getting much better at having the outer ear stroked. I gave him another bite of cracker when I was ready to say goodbye, and he followed me up to the gate. After I chained the gate, he stood and let me pet him over the gate a bit longer. I succumbed to his big brown eyes and gave him a whole peanut butter cracker. When I left he dropped his head to graze right in front of the gate.

Day 28

Session #1 - around 3:30 p.m.

It was really hot out, and Little Man was someplace where I couldn't see him. I called him and walked out in the pasture. When I looked up I saw him walking towards me. I walked in the pen to pet the neighbor's goats through the fence, and Little Man stopped outside the pen. So I went out and met him. We worked with the soft brush today.

He targeted the brush readily, even when I turned it over so he was touching the bristles. I held it to the sides, down low, and up high. He pie eyed it a bit when it was high, but I waited, and he touched it. His hesitation wasn't quite as great after doing this a few times.

Then I decided we needed to work on brushing him. I stroked the brush down the front of his face a few times. No problem. But he clearly did not want me touching him elsewhere with it, even though I have in the past managed a few brush strokes on his neck and shoulders. I tried standing beside his head, but he immediately moved so I was in front of him. So, I brushed my arms and legs, making sure it made as much sound as it could. He kept moving his muzzle around, trying to target the brush. I finally was able to stroke the brush down the right side of his neck, so I clicked and treated. Once I was able to do this a few times, even moving down to the shoulder, I tried with the other side. He kept backing up but I brushed myself again, and finally managed to stroke the brush down his neck on the left side. I did this a couple more times, ending with moving it over his shoulder and giving him a bite of cookie.

The whole time, in addition to backing up quite a bit, he appeared very watchful of that brush. There was never a problem with my stroking him with my hands (he even let me stand beside his head while I was using my hand), but the brush was quite another story. At first I clicked while the brush was in the middle of the stroke, since I started with only one stroke. But I increased the number of strokes until I was able to do four in a row, and I clicked on the last stroke each time. When I stroked it over his shoulder, I clicked when it reached his shoulder.

I petted him a moment more, and rubbed his ears, and talked to him. Then I went in and he went over to get a drink.

Session # 2 - a little after 6:30 p.m.

Little Man was about halfway out in the pasture, and I called him as I went out. He made a high pitched noise (not a full brinney, but an abbreviated one) and TROTTED to me! I said "whoooa" as he began to stop. I figured it couldn't hurt. :-)

He touched the brush as soon as I held it out. I didn't work very long with him, because I had gone through his wormer and over half his feed earlier today. But I worked on brushing both sides of his neck, as well as both shoulders. I was even able to brush a bit further back than his shoulders! He did keep backing up, pie eyeing the brush, and tossing his head quite a bit. But he was compensated with clicks and treats, and he did not run off.

As I moved the brush farther back, I gave him cookie bites (since I ran out of feed, I just increased the intensity a little bit, to coincide with the special treats), and even a peppermint treat when I was able to brush from his back down his side, just past his shoulder

When I left, he went in the pen to get a drink, then came over to the gate, where I was fastening the chain. So I went out, petted him, and brushed him one more time, clicking and treating with a cookie bite. He followed me to the gate, and after I chained it I petted him over the gate a bit. I was running his forelock between my fingers when a bit of dried mud in the top of his many caught and pulled just a bit. He jumped back a couple of feet and snorted. But when I called him he came back, though not quite as close. I reached out and ran my hand up his forehead until it was resting in between his ears. I held it for a couple of seconds, then clicked and gave him a peppermint treat. I wanted to end on a positive note.

He grazed for a minute or two, then when I looked again, he was trotting around out in the pasture. Perhaps he felt a need to work off all those extra calories!

Day 26

Session #1 - around noon

Little Man was in the pen getting a drink when I walked out. I walked slowly, giving him a chance to come out if he wanted. He did, and circled around to my right side. I petted him, then walked slowly in the pen, asking him to follow.

He came in behind me. He seemed a little skittish today. He was shy of the rope, but I was able to hold it, with about a foot of the end swinging, and rub his neck with it. The end gently bumped his shoulder, but he held his ground. He was not willing to have the halter up over his muzzle, but he lipped it once.

He would bump it with his muzzle, but I was only able to get it over his muzzle a couple of times, and only just barely. I petted him for a minute, and he let me cup my hand under his jaw and lift his muzzle up to my nose. I didn't lift it much, but he moved it up when I applied just a bit of pressure and moved my face down to his.

I decided that maybe he has had enough of halter work, so I hung the halter over the fence, and worked on touching the crest of his neck. The first time he sidestepped away about a foot. Following the advice I was given on the clicker list, I didn't click when he jumped away. He moved back, and I tried again. I'm thinking I applied pressure on both sides of his crest, and this is what spooked him. So this time I just laid my hand behind his ears, and clicked. I did it several more times, and was able to rub the crest of his neck without his moving away.

Next I worked on touching his shoulder and withers. He wouldn't let me stand beside him, so I tried moving beside him and clicking. No dice. He didn't like it. So I stood at his head and leaned. I started out moving my hand down to his shoulder, and he stayed put, though he seemed a bit edgy. Then I ran my hand gently down his neck to his withers. The first time I did it he whirled his front end away from me, about a yard, but he did not whirl all the way around and he did not kick. It is huge progress that he is not kicking! Again, I did not click when he whirled. (See, I'm learning too!) When he moved back I met him halfway and tried again. This time when my hand reached his withers he didn't whirl, and I immediately clicked.

I was able to rest my hand on his withers for several seconds. He seemed very nervous, but he did not move. I gave him a large handful of feed, and he turned and scooted out of the pen. He stopped right outside, so I walked slowly out, talking to him. I went up to him and petted him for a minute, rubbing around his ears. I stroked his ears, which he tolerated but didn't seem to enjoy. He moved his head a bit, and seemed a bit nervous. I laid my forehead against his for a few seconds, then gave him a cookie. He seemed glad to be done and moved away a few feet and started grazing.

I am working hard to learn what to do and how to do it. I need to be a little quicker on the clicker, and I need to not be impatient. I am also learning how to read Little Man, and switch focus when he isn't ready to do something. I know he would do so much better with someone who really knows what they are doing. But I'm all he has, and I love him, so I'll just keep on working.

Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.

My husband was out tending to the birds, and when I went out he told me Little Man had been standing at the gate watching him. I had decided to just work with touching Little Man, and give him a break from the halter, so I asked David to come out with me. Little Man had moved away a bit, but came back when I called him. I had David stand inside the gate, and I went out. Little Man came up to me, and I clicked when his muzzle touched my hand. I worked on running my hand down his neck to his shoulder, both side, and to his withers. He did much better. I could see him starting to get a little concerned and starting to tense up while I had my hand resting on his shoulders and withers, but he did not move away. I also rubbed my hand along the crest of his neck several times, and he moved his head a bit, but didn't pull away. A couple of times he stood without moving his head, but he kept his eye on me.

Then I had David hold out his fist, and I tapped it and asked Little Man to touch it. He kept moving his muzzle towards me, but I kept tapping David's fist and saying "touch it". He really stretched his neck out, but wasn't quite there yet. I didn't click because David has actually petted him once or twice before, and I have seen Little Man sniff his hand before as well. So I didn't click until Little Man's muzzle actually touched David's hand. I asked David to move his hand out just a little, to make it a bit easier the first time. Little Man got a cookie for touching David's hand. We did it several more times, and I had David move his hand position. Little Man hesitated, but touched him every time.

Then I went back to resting my hand on his shoulder and withers, just a few more times. We finished with a big peppermint treat when he stood for me to rest my hand on his withers for about 4 or 5 seconds. He pie eyed me, but he didn't step away.

Again, in between times I rubbed his face, and around his ears. I was able to rub at the base of his ears and actually move his ears a bit. I stroked his ears, from the base up, and told him what a smart boy he