Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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.

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