Session #1 - around noon
Little Man was standing at the fence watching me tend to the birds, and when I moved out of his sight to tend the rabbit, he brinnied. :-)
I walked out to the gate, and he walked towards it too. But he stopped short of coming up to me. He turned around and started grazing, so I sat on a dirt pile and waited. He finally walked around and approached from the other side, so I got up and met him.
We worked again on having me touch his ears and rub his poll and crest. After watching the John Lyons video on the head-shy horse, I tried moving my hand faster up to my target. Little Man is now to the point where I can move a little more quickly. Before, any quick move would send him whirling, kicking, and/or running. He did very well today.
The head raising is becoming less pronounced, though it is still there, and his pie-eyeing is much less as well.
Once, we had done been working pretty rapidly, and he had had several treats in quick succession. So while I was waiting for him to finish chewing I was stroking the side of his neck. He angled his head to guide my hand up to his ear! A couple of times, when I wasn't quick enough to resume "working", he stamped his foot. I'm not sure if it was from impatience or flies. He's not really a foot stamper, at least not that I've noticed up till now, but it could have been either one.
I also worked a little with putting both hands on his face. Again, I moved more quickly instead of being so slow and painstaking, though I still started low and ran my hands up his face. He did well, with no pie eyeing or head tossing. And I was able to move and stand beside his head, and reach my right hand over his neck, resting my forearm on his crest and rubbing the other side of his neck with my hand. He did raise his head and pie eye a bit on that, but that lessened as we repeated it.
Again, I interspersed cookie bites and peppermint treats in with the feed, when we did something that was a little higher pressure or when he was very calm about something.
My husband walked out and watched the last couple of minutes. When we were done, Little Man followed me over to the gate. He targeted my husband's hand, for which I clicked and treated, and let him pet him. Then I dropped the clicker (it's on my wrist) and we just visited for a while. Again, he let my husband reach up and rub between his ears! We all probably stood there about ten minutes, with Little Man being petted and praised, and getting an occasional treat.
I went back to finish with the rabbit, and when I looked up, my husband was out in the pasture getting some dirt from a pile (he is filling in some low spots in the back yard). Little Man was right up with him, looking to see what he was doing. My husband was moving slowly and calmly, and Little Man was very calm too.
I feel so encouraged! I think that Little Man is learning to trust me, enough so that he is now letting my husband touch him, because I say it's okay.
Session #2 - a little before 6:30 p.m.
Little Man was pretty close to the gate when I went out. He came towards me, and I met him partway. We worked some more on my touching his ears, poll, and crest. I continued to move my hand faster than I have been, and by the end of the session he was standing steady (with some occasional mini-pie-eyeing) while I cupped my hand around an ear. He still pie eyed me when I moved to stand beside his head and reached my hand over his neck. But I said "Whooooa" until he stilled, then rubbed for a few seconds before clicking. I worked a little bit on clicking as I stepped by his head, as he still prefers me in front of him.
So far so good. He wasn't nearly as shy when I touched his ears, so I decided it was time to touch them WITH something. I pulled out the little, soft, face brush, and gently stroked it down his face. I moved to his cheeks, then his forehead. Then I worked at his neck, just behind his ears. He seemed to like that, and angled his head a bit. By the time we had worked for a while, he was tolerating the brush on the outer portion of his ears. He was better when the brush was still, but I did stroke it quite a bit, as well. Once when I was just petting him, he stamped his foot and swung his rump over so he was facing me head on. Again, I wasn't sure if it was flies, though I didn't see any, or he was having a bit of temper. But he's only stamped when he wasn't getting a treat. I'll have to keep watch and see what transpires.
When we were done, I went in the yard and chained the gate. He followed me over to the gate, and we stood there for quite a while. I stroked and petted him, and before I left, he was angling his head and I was rubbing his ears! I had the flat of my hand facing the inside of his ears, and I rubbed my hand up and down on the edges of his ears. I also rubbed at the base of his ears, with his ears flopping as I rubbed. He was SO calm, and seemed to really enjoy being rubbed and petted. I looked at my watch, and I had been out with him for over half an hour! He is able to stand my company for longer periods of time!
The geese had come out by the gate, to see what was going on. They were standing in a group, watching us, and I scooped up the gander to pet him. Little Man's ears pricked forward and he stepped closer to the gate. I took the gander over, but made sure his face wasn't pointed towards Little Man; I didn't want him to lunge and bite! Little Man sniffed, then decided that a goose wasn't all that interesting.
I am so thrilled that today's lessons were so calm and pleasant. And I think that Little Man enjoyed them too. I hope he is learning that hands can be pleasant, and that food is not the only treat in this world.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago