Session #1 - a little after 10:00 a.m.
It stormed all morning, so I waited until it was lightning-free until I went out. Little Man was about a third of the way out in the pasture when I went out. He looked at me when I called him, then slowly walked over to me. I watched him carefully, but he did not seem to be favoring his leg this morning. I had only taken out the bucket with his wormer in it, so I didn't have my clicker or the rest of his treats. I mainly wanted to check out his leg.
I petted him, and he tossed his head a bit. I decided that since he seemed to want to work, I might as well give it a try. I rubbed between his ears and tried to click with my tongue. It was pretty pathetic, and he looked at me with an odd expression. But he was very quick to figure out that my poor attempts at tongue clicking meant the treat was forthcoming.
I just rubbed his head and around his ears, tongue clicking (or at least trying) and treating until the wormer was gone. He did move around a bit. I was amazed that he was not completely soaked. He must have been under the thick part of the trees, or else he dried off pretty quickly when it stopped raining. He doesn't tend to like to be touched much when he is wet, so I didn't worry too much about his moving around so much. He wasn't muddy, so he obviously hadn't rolled yet.
Then I petted him a little more, but he did some more head tossing. He was also taking his muzzle and bumping my hand and arm, even lifting his lips and showing his teeth some. He has never given me any indication that he bites, so I don't think that was it, but I'm not sure what he meant by it.
I'm not sure if he wanted me to stop petting him or start clicking and treating him, probably the latter. He followed me to the gate, and I petted him again for a minute. When I went in and chained the gate, he stepped right up to it. I petted him, then bent down and got a handful of grass. He took it, then turned away and started grazing. I think he figured he could get grass on his own.
Session #2 - a little after 7:30 p.m.
Little Man was way out in the back of the pasture. He came up when I called him. I watched him closely as he walked, and he was just barely favoring his left front leg. We worked with my hands for a bit. I rubbed his ears, head and neck, rested my hand on his shoulder, slid my hand down to the top of his leg. He tensed a bit, and backed a bit at first, then steadied and stood still.
Then we went to a new target. I asked him to target a plastic racquet
(a handled scoop that is meant to catch a plastic ball). He pricked his ears forward when I took it off the fence where I had hung it, and targeted it eagerly. I think it is a very good sign that he was not suspicious of an item he has never seen before.
I wanted to observe his movement, so I asked him to walk to it, which he did. In fact, he would start walking as soon as I moved away from him, and I would have to hurry to say, "touch it", because he was right behind me. I held it high, low, to the side.
Then I decided to touch it to him. I touched it to his neck, shoulder, withers, back. He was a little surprised at first, but he quickly figured it wasn't going to hurt him. He did shy just a very little a few times, but when I started at his head or neck and slid it to where I wanted it, he tensed but stood.
When we were done, he followed me to the gate. (I had to drop the racquet over the gate into the yard, he was so eager to keep "playing" with it.) I noticed that his limping was more noticeable, but not really bad. I did try to see if he would let me at least get a good look at his foot, but he backed up every time I attempted to stand beside him.
At least he's not whirling and kicking. I finally gave up and went on in the gate. He stood at the gate and I petted him for a minute. He dropped his head and started drifting off to graze, and I watched his feet. He was definitely favoring the left front. He had it lifted quite a bit, and was gently pawing with it. He was also bumping it with his muzzle.
He started rubbing his muzzle along his other foot too, so the flies may have been bothering him. They were very thick this evening. I did notice his hooves are packed with mud. I wonder if perhaps there is something in the mud that is making his left front foot tender.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago