Session #1 - a little after 3:00 p.m.
I think Little Man is doing really well. I have no doubt that he would REALLY be doing well if he had someone who knew what they were doing. But I am trying to learn, and doing so through trial and error, and the excellent advice from listfolks who DO know what they are doing. Today I learned not to try to do too much in one session.
I looked for something else for Little Man to target. I found a large traffic cone, but I thought he might be really shy of it, so I selected a reflector. It was a bit taller than the cone, but only a few inches around. He stood off a ways while I showed it to him. He walked towards it readily when I asked him to touch it, but stopped short of actually touching it. I did click when his muzzle moved towards it. I "helped" him a bit by holding it and leaning it towards him. He touched it every time I did that. I moved it to a couple of different places. After he targeted it about 4 times, I took it and put it over the gate. He still would not approach me when I was standing near the gate.
I took the halter and let him sniff it, then I looped it over his muzzle. He was pretty calm. I did it a couple more times, just to get him relaxed about it before I started moving it up the side of his face. But the third time he suddenly snorted and whirled to the side, I gave him slack in the rope and it finally slipped off his muzzle.
We went back to basics, targeting the halter, stroking the rope gently over the side of his face and neck, gently moving to rest the rope or halter at the base of his ears. When he started backing up and pie eyeing me, I said "whooooa" softly, and as soon as he stopped and held his position I clicked. He got a few peppermint treats for allowing the halter by his ear. We finally worked up to slipping the loop over his muzzle again, and holding it a few seconds. Then we just played "target" for a minute or so. I walked a few steps, held out the halter, and asked him to touch it. He walked over and touched it.
When we were finished playing, I hung the halter on the gate and walked back over to pet him for a minute. I gave him a cookie before I left.
I'm wondering if it may be unrealistic, but I don't want to force the halter on him at all. I want him to eventually have the halter on, but I want it to be very relaxed. I want it to be as close to his idea as possible. I figure that if I continue to move step by step, we will eventually get the halter over his muzzle and up behind his ears. After that, we'll just keep working until he stands for me to knot it.
Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.
Little Man came up when I called him, but did not come all the way to me. I walked out and petted him, then we targeted the catch-'em. I stroked it on his face and neck, and rested it up by his ears. He pie eyed it a bit, but I said "whoooa" and waited until he stilled, then clicked.
I switched to the halter, but when I turned around Little Man was acting very jumpy. I saw a big reddish brown horsefly on him, so I just draped the halter over my arm and pulled out the washcloth. Unfortunately, I had not sprayed it. But I stroked it on him, and several times brushed the fly off. It kept coming back, which made it difficult for Little Man to concentrate. I ended with resting the cloth up on his forehead, and saying "whoooa" when he started to back up. He stopped, and I clicked and gave him a peppermint treat.
He followed me to the gate, and I petted him for a minute over the gate. I gave him a cookie then laid my hand on his forehead. He stayed by the gate to graze when I walked off.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago