As Usual, The bad Is Followed By Good

Random horse picture, cause it needed something

I don’t have any pictures. It’s five degrees out and sprinkling snow, my phone doesn’t work well under those conditions. I do, for short periods, I went through the extra effort of putting my coveralls on and was so hot I ended up stripping my gloves off. For half an hour, or there abouts, I fed treats and got my bare hands slobbered over and they were toasty warm.

I sat and thought, for the last couple of days, about the root of the biting issue. We know it wasn’t rottenness, he wasn’t trying to be mean, he’s a horse. I’m all for anthropomorphism, but we need to be realistic about it. Does that seem like an oxymoron?  I don’t think so, horses share many of the same feelings and emotions of people. I have seen them plot revenge and morn a lost friend, so why not try to be mean? Well, I’m not buying it.

So I needed to look for a real cause of the problem. Lack of manners seems pretty obvious. He’s been improving but I’m not of the beat them into submission school, so we enjoy his personality, encourage good behavior and mostly ignore bad (unless it makes me really, really mad, then he gets a little more reaction) and for the most part he’s great. So we’ll put put that way at the bottom, the very base of the cause.

All the horses have been getting fed, it’s cold I think they can use a little extra. That extra and the perceived competition for feed has been causing him a good bit of anxiety. The other two were just across the fence, I walked by him and continued past, without him getting fed! He panicked, how could I do that to him! And he nipped.

So I decided on a plan. The other two went out the gate and I latched it, they each got a pile of feed. Inside the gate I immediately went to work with Rusty. No climbing the fence first, no making him think he was being ignored. I read over at The Clicker Center about how she taught her horse, Robin, to stand with his neck arched and Robin then transferred it to a beautiful collected trot at liberty. The video is well worth watching. It has been a goal ever since. So we worked on it first, got him well stuffed with treats.

Then I climbed the fence. I was watching him closely the whole time, he stood back and watched. The I played cow, he did alright. When we finished that we walked over to check their water, doing the Spanish walk most of the way, going four steps between clicking!! He is doing awesome! Then we worked on standing, quietly, four feet on the ground and neck arched. Sometimes I clicked him as soon as he took the treat I offered near his chest causing him to arch his neck to take the food. He was starting to catch on and tuck his nose nicely.

I escaped out the gate as the others rushed in, it gets a little hairy sometimes. Coyote is THE BOSS there is no questioning his authority. Any who dare are crushed. Even Onna rules over poor little Rusty. I am always in fear of being run over, not on purpose of course but I got spoiled having the boss horse for so long.

It was a great day and well made up for our difficulties the last time. Some days I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

2 thoughts on “As Usual, The bad Is Followed By Good

  1. Dom

    That liberty lunging video was really cool! I love the idea of clicking for an arched neck and then carrying the concept on to liberty work. I am going to try to add this to Booger\’s routine! Learn something new every day!

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