Session #1 - a little after 10:00 a.m.
Little Man was out in the pen, and he and the neighbor's goat were standing next to each other at the fence. He stayed where he was when I went out, so I walked into the pen. He still eyes the spray bottle with suspicion, so I stopped a couple of yards from him, sprayed the rag, and set the bottle down. I wiped his face and neck, then his chest, shoulders, and even his withers and side, right behind his shoulder.
I noticed yesterday, and this morning as well, that when I stroke the rag from his withers down his side, he lifts his head and puts his muzzle close to my shoulder, then works his lips. Hopefully he is telling me that he likes it. He gets very nervous if I get too close to his belly, so I stopped short of that. He was very insistent that I not wipe his ears this morning. But I wanted to get a little solution on them, so I moved pretty quickly from his forehead and did manage to wipe the outside of each ear at least once. I made sure he got a cookie for that.
Then I took the rope and rubbed his neck with it. I looped it over his muzzle, and he stood still while I held it there. He is still very shy about having it up around his eyes and ears. So I decided to use it as a scratcher. I coiled it up and held it in the middle, then I proceeded to use it to scratch behind his ears. He began to calm down, because it obviously felt good. I also rubbed it up on his forehead, below his forelock.
Then I decided to see if he would tolerate the rope over his crest, so I took the single end and draped it over, then rubbed with it. I clicked, pulled it off, and treated. I did it a couple more time, but the third time he really pie eyed, then snorted, turned and ran out of the pen. I guess the pressure was just too much. Or the rope might have pulled his mane a bit. He did not attempt to kick, which is really great! He stopped outside the pen, and I talked to him and walked towards him.
I stopped just at the gate, and held out the rope and asked him to touch it. He hesitated, then walked over and stretched out his neck and touched it. I petted him, then stroked his neck with the rope. Then I gently used it to scratch behind each ear. I finished by looping it over his muzzle one more time.
Then I dropped the rope and petted him a minute. This morning he was really pie eyeing and popping his head up when I moved my hand up to his poll and crest. So I moved to gently rubbing behind each ear. I gave him a large peppermint treat before I left. I was also able to put my face to his several times and kiss his nose.
We have come so far in less than two months! It is amazing that he will let me touch his sides and ears. And I believe he is learning that I am not going to hurt him. I know that one day he will realize that he does not need to be on the defensive when he is with me.
Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.
Little Man was very jumpy tonight. It was thundering, and gulls were flying overhead, moving inland from the coast. He let me wipe him with marigold spray, but kept moving away when I tried to wipe his shoulders, back and sides. I did finally manage it, but it took a lot of clicking and treating. He did let me lift his muzzle and kiss his nose, though.
I took the halter and lead out, and he targeted it, but was jumpy and suspicious when I tried to stroke him with it or slip it over his muzzle.
Finally I just held it various places and had him target it. Then I had him walk a few feet and target it. Then I just petted him for a minute. I tried to rub his ears, but he kept moving his head and pie eyeing me. He did let me rub right behind them, so I did, and gave him a large peppermint treat.
Teaching a Horse to Talk
6 years ago