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.
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