Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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!

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