Session #1 - around 2:00 p.m.
Little Man was fairly close to the fence, so I went out with my gear, including marigold spray and a rag, along with the catch-'em. I sprayed the rag, while he stood watching suspiciously, then walked over to him. I let him touch the rag, then I wiped his face and neck. I went back for more spray, and he did not follow me, but kept watching me. I tried to spray where he could see and hear it. Then I went back and wiped his shoulders and chest, and even managed to wipe his sides behind his shoulders. I even was able to wipe down by his belly, right behind his forelegs. He really quivered his skin, and started to move, so I didn't go any further.
He surprised me by turning his rump towards me several times. I thought perhaps he wanted me to continue wiping, as the spray was working and he had no flies where I had wiped. But I just don't trust him enough to get by those hindquarters. I know he would not kick aggressively. But I also know that he doesn't trust me completely either, and he could easily misinterpret any movement I make. If that happened, not only could I get kicked, but it could cause us to lose ground. So I did not attempt to wipe him any farther, though I did go over some of the same places again.
I held the rag and sprayer just a foot or so in front of him, and sprayed (downwind, of course) so he could see the liquid coming from the sprayer to the rag. Then I set the sprayer down and wiped him with the rag. I also had him target the bottle. He was very suspicious of it, and his targeting was accompanied by much snorting and backing up.
In the middle of all this I worked with the rope just a little. I had him target it, looped it over his muzzle, rubbed it on his neck up by his crest, touched his ears with it, and laid it over his face below his eyes.
I am hoping he will make the connection between the spray/wipe and the fact that there are no flies on him where he was wiped. I really think he understands. But he does not connect it with the spray actually touching him. I'll just save that for when he's ready.
I had the thought that if I tried wiping him over the gate, he might turn his side/rump to me again. Then I could attempt to wipe him with the gate between us. It might make him feel better; I know it would make ME feel better!
Before I left him I stroked his face, and lifted his muzzle up so I could kiss his nose a couple of times. I am still clicking when I do this, though not every time. He is becoming less shy about having my face right in his.
Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.
Little Man wouldn't walk towards me, but kept grazing. I was holding the spray bottle and rag, and I think that may be why he wouldn't come.
So I walked towards him, stopped a couple of yards away, laid down the rope, and sprayed the rag. Then I walked up to him and asked him to target the rag. He still doesn't like the way it smells, but he targeted it and stood steady. I wiped his face and neck, shoulders and a little on his sides: the same places I was able to wipe this morning. He would not let me wipe his ears tonight, though. And he still did a lot of backing up through the whole thing.
We worked with the rope just a little. He targeted it, and I rubbed it on his face and neck, and looped it around his muzzle. I draped the end over his crest, clicked and pulled it off. After a few times of this I left it there after I clicked and while I was treating him. I was planning to reach under his neck for the end, but as soon as he took his treat he sidestepped away and out from under it. I coiled the rope and gently shook it, asking him to target it. After a brief pause, he walked over and touched it. I rubbed him with it a couple more times, then called it a night.
My daughter was out feeding her rabbit, so I gave her a cookie and told her she could go see if Little Man would take it from her. He wouldn't even take a step towards the fence, so I had her go put it in his bucket, which is hanging on the fence. I'm sure he'll eventually get over there to see what she put in the bucket.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago