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!
Teaching a Horse to Talk
7 years ago