Friday, January 9, 2009

Day 43

Session #1 - around noon

Little Man was out by the fence when I went out. He walked up and stopped a few yards away from me. I hung the halter and the catch-'em on the gate, and walked out towards him. He snorted and backed up a bit. I held out the washcloth and asked him to touch it. He snorted and tossed his head, and backed up some more. He did finally touch it, just barely, a couple of times, but remained nervous. So I stuck it in my pocket and reached out to pet him. He tossed his head and backed up.

I talked to him a minute, then walked over to the gate. I deliberately did not turn around for a bit, to give him time to collect himself. He walked up closer, but not right behind me. I took the catch-'em over and asked him to target it, which he did. So we targeted a few times, then I gently laid the rope against his cheek. He pie eyed it, so I slowly moved it down his face until he quit pie eyeing it. Then I held it against his face for a second or two, then clicked.

We kept working. I made a point to keep the rope down where he wasn't nervous, so that I was clicking when he was calmer. I looped it over his muzzle, and he was quite calm about it. I repeated this but moved some of the rope up his right cheek with my left hand. He remained calm each time I did it. I did incorporate the cookie bites and small peppermint treats into the lesson, rather than saving the "big stuff" for the end. When we were done, I petted him for a bit, then gave him a large peppermint treat. He followed me to the gate, and I petted him a little more after chaining the gate. Then I gave him a cookie bite, and laid my hand on his muzzle, then moved it up and rested it on his forehead. When I left, he stayed by the gate to graze.

Session #2 - around 6:15 p.m.

When I went out Little Man walked up towards me, but didn't come to me. I walked in the pen to say hi to the goats, and he stayed outside.

When I walked out, he turned and went the other direction, so I angled and kept walking and talking. We finally ended up in about the same place. I had him target the washcloth, and wiped his face several times until the two big horseflies let go of him.

Then we worked on looping the halter over his muzzle. He remained calm, even when I moved my left hand up about halfway up the right side of his face and laid some of the halter against his cheek. He wouldn't let me approach his ears, though. He started backing up, and began to be wary of the loop. I switched to the catch-'em rope, as I was fumbling a bit with the halter and the catch-'em is easier to maneuver.

I looped it over his muzzle, and once he was successful with that again, I started gently stroking it on his face and neck.

Then I worked on having the rope, held between my hands, come up in front of his face. I figure that while he may be amenable to having the halter over his muzzle, he will not be so agreeable to having it up around his ears or up by his eyes. He raised his head and pie eyed it, and I held it still and talked to him until he moved his head towards the rope. I lowered it just a little so it would touch him, and clicked.

He "checked out" after that, and I turned to see that he was staring at a neighbor walking slowly up and down the street. He watches constantly whenever someone is walking. So I petted him a bit, then gave him a large peppermint treat.

I tried to mix in the cookie bites and small peppermint treats as he did something a bit more difficult during the session.

Afterwards, I went in and got a bit of hay, and brought it out to him.
I laid it by the gate, and he watched me but wouldn't come over. I walked over and gave him a bit of hay, and he slowly moved over towards me. I went in and chained the gate, and leaned on it and talked to him while he ate. He ate a bit, then stopped and lifted his head, pushing his muzzle out towards me. I petted him a bit, then left him to finish his hay.

He is doing well, but I am floundering a bit. I'm not sure exactly where to go, or how much to do. I am looking forward to receiving my clicker training book, so I can learn how to work with him better. I will just keep working on getting him used to the halter/rope touching him all over his neck, head and neck. We're not running a race. I figure I didn't push either of my children to learn how to read. They are both excellent readers, though my son "clicked" at age 7 1/2 and my daughter "clicked" at age 4 1/2. Every child is different, as is every equine. So I figure Little Man will get there, when he is ready.

1 comment:

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