Session #1 - around 11:30 a.m.
Little Man was not too far out when I went out. I talked to him, but he just looked at me. He pawed the ground, and I realized he was getting ready to roll. So he had a good roll while I visited with the nice neighbor's goat, then he walked over. He seemed to barely be favoring that left front leg; it was almost imperceptible. I petted him and rubbed his ears, then we started working.
I took the catch-'em out today, and had him target it. Instead of holding it still, I shook the coil and had him target it while it was moving. He has always been so spooky about getting bumped, even if I was petting him and accidentally barely bumped him with my fingertips. He did really well. I held it to the sides, down low, and above his eye level. I had him walk over to it and target it, too. He was less willing to touch it when it was low, but he did finally do it.
Then I took the coil and, still "shaking" it I touched it to his neck, up by his mane, on his crest, and right behind his ears. He backed up a couple of times, but steadied when I said "whooooa". Then I shook it VERY gently and moved it up his face to his forehead, and towards his forelock. He pie eyed me a little, but steadied and stood for it. We finished up with easy stuff. I had him walk a few steps and target the coiled catch-'em.
In between clicking and treating, I rubbed his forehead and ears, and told him what a good boy he is. I lifted his muzzle up and kissed him on the nose, and clicked when I did it. He pricked his ears forward as if he were really thinking about that! I did the same thing later when I touched my forehead to his, just before I left. I figure he might as well start looking at all contact with me as pleasurable.
He is really appearing to enjoy having his ears rubbed. And today he even held his head low while I rubbed his poll! I decided that I was simply moving too fast with the halter and ropes, so I am going to concentrate on just having fun and playing with them, and getting him used to having them touch him and move while doing it.
I am having so much fun working with him, and I feel that we are really getting to know each other.
Session #2 - around 6:30 p.m.
I am very pleased to see that Little Man was not favoring his left front leg!
This session was pretty much like this morning's. We worked on the same things. When I am shaking the coiled rope, it bumps him when he targets it. But he knows it is moving, and he is the one initiating the contact, so he does not spook when it bumps him. This evening he was lipping it, and I could almost see him smile! I did take it and shake it, and gently bump it against his neck and shoulders, and he did fine. I also touched it to his chest.
The neighboring rancher came walking out by his barn right as we were finished (I had just chained the gate, and we were standing at it while I petted Little Man), and Little Man suddenly was "on guard". His ears were pricked forward, he turned around with his rump near the gate, and stood watching. I wondered if he would allow me to reach out and touch his rump, so I talked to him (he could see me), and reached out my hand. He hesitated, and I could see the skin on his rump flinching, then he moved before my hand made contact. He didn't jump or spook; he just moved away a few steps.
My husband came out and we stood there a few minutes, watching Little Man observe. Then Little Man turned around, walked over to the gate, and let my husband rub his forehead. He tossed his head when my husband's hand went up between his ears, and he turned and walked off to take up another observation post.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago