Session #1 - around 11:30 a.m.
Little Man was fairly close when I walked out, and walked away from me and into the pen. I followed him in. I had him target the bottle of marigold spray, then I walked a few yards away and sprayed the rag. He watched suspiciously. I set the bottle on the ground and walked back to him. I had him target the rag, then I wiped his face, neck, shoulders, even his withers and a little of his back and sides. He tensed, and I watched him carefully, making sure that I clicked and stopped before he "broke".
That's all we worked on this morning, but I was pleased to see the spray seemed to be working, and there were only a couple of insects on him.
Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.
I took the spray and rag again, along with the catch-'em. I wiped him with the wet rag, then worked with the rope. I continued to stroke it on his face and neck, and up by his ears. He is fine when I loop it around his muzzle, but still uncomfortable when I raise it up towards his eyes and ears. He raises his head and backs away, but will eventually stop when I talk to him and hold the rope still.
I was able to drape the rope over his crest, though he was a bit antsy. I was even able to leave it on him while I treated him, then reach under his neck and grasp the end. I held it for a moment, shook it ever so slightly, clicked and released. I did it again, and tried holding it a little longer.
I waited too long to click, though, and he turned and sidestepped until he was out from under it. I know that it is not a good idea to let an animal pull away, because it teaches him to pull away, but I want him to feel comfortable and not trapped. I know that if we keep working, he will eventually want to stay with me, even with a rope on him. So, I tried again. Again, he pulled away because I didn't click soon enough. I realized I was just pushing too much, draped it over him again, clicked, pulled it off, and stopped that particular activity. I wanted to end with success, though.
I also worked a little bit with leading. He wasn't on the rope, but I held it out and walked away, asking him to follow. I continued walking, and we walked several yards, as I held out the rope and he followed it. I figure if we do this enough, he will be used to following the rope when we do finally come to terms with the rope around his neck or the halter on him.
Once while I was treating him, I was a bit careless and he was a bit quick, and I accidentally ended up with my fingers in his mouth. They bumped his teeth, I pulled my hand back, and he whirled, ran, and kicked a bit. I walked after him, talking to him, but he would not come back to me. I finally stopped a few yards away from him, held out the rope, and asked him to touch it. He just looked at me. I shook it and asked again. He slowly started walking towards it, stretching out his neck and barely bumping it with his muzzle. We worked our way up from there.
I was able to pet him, and stroke him, and rub him with the rope again. I noticed he was even more gentle than usual when he took the treats from my hand. I was able to put my face to his, and kiss him on the nose. He is seeming less uncomfortable with having my face in his.
Once I felt that we had had enough positive interaction to counteract the earlier goof, I petted him one last time and gave him a peppermint treat.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
7 years ago