Funny, if I remember right this is where we started out. Long walks down the driveway trying to keep him out of my space. Yanking and pulling trying to hold onto him without being run over. Things have changed a bit.
He still wants to be in my space, he has never lost that. Now he is haltered, my reins lay around his neck, just in case. In case of what I’m not sure, mostly they get used to say that yes, he does have to go back to his pen when we are done. I do very seldom pick them up to use as a lead. The halter is mostly to say that we are working now.
As we work on more intricate and interesting things I am sometimes, often ;), reminded of basics that got skipped, forgotten about. I don’t mind or care too much when he makes laps around me while we walk but thinking about the things that can be taught with a clicker, leading was high on that list. It is very bad manners to let him walk in front of me. Mostly it is when he is going back to their pen, he says “Lets not, shall we? How about we stay out and eat more? More fun games?” it is still rude though. So I decided to work on it.
So on a warm but windy day we went out for a walk, a lap around the yard.When he walked with his head at my shoulder he got a click and a treat. We stopped and stood, we walked past scary cars and buildings. He would pass me. I would stop and bring him back to position. We are working on targeting my hand, when held out to my side it puts him right where he should be. Just a nose bump I tell him, biting now would be terribly rude.
We walked past the in laws house to that spot that terrifies all horses. Where the yard opens up into fields with trees on both sides. The father in law knocked down a dead tree with his payloader, now there is a stump with a metal sign propped against it. That was more than Rusty could handle. He shot past me, past the stump and down the driveway. There is and electric fence up both sides of the driveway where cattle, now home for the winter, are turned out in the empty fields. We used to walk out in that corner and I’m afraid he wont realize the fence is there now. He runs along it, arched away from the terrifying trees. Slamming on the breaks he spins and comes back towards me. I call him and he passes me into the yard then stops and comes to touch my hand.
Instead of a mistake, or any type of misbehavior I think we have won a major battle. He dealt with his fear and returned to me despite the way home being clear and open. We turned back, away from the scary stuff and circled around the other way. We entered the tree row from the middle, walked down the narrow lane and out past the scary stump going towards home. He was hyped. The trees were blowing in the wind, weeds were swirling around our feet, the noise of the wind out beyond the shelter of the trees was impressively noisy.
Rusty stayed at my side. Not always in perfect position, we really worked hard at targeting my hand to bring him up to, or back to, where he should be. I was so impressed with him that we went back to the house and worked on fun easy things so he could have a break after all that stress.
It seems lately like the things that are hardest for us, that take the most work and concentration are the things that look easy. Going for a walk, moving his legs how and when I cue. I am learning all of this along with him and the learning curve for me is steep. Thankfully he is being patient with me and is very forgiving.
Today it is cold out. The storm all that wind was blowing in is coming closer and I want to stay in where it’s warm as much as I want to go play with him. I’m afraid that warm and playing on the computer are winning out so he is getting a day off. Weather he wants it or not.
- In Which We Did Nothing