This doesn’t look like much, but it is a pretty big deal.
I’ve been trying to convince Heildorf to try body targeting for a very long time. He stands there ignoring me. For as long as he has been here he has been fairly shut down. We’ll find a place where he is willing to step out of his shell and offer a behavior. He gets a little happier and more willing to work but there is so much of him left guarded and hidden from us.
Every little door he opens I try to great with the enthusiasm it deserves.
Here I asked him to walk in a circle with me, no leadropes involved.
He didn’t do what I asked. It could be called willful disobedience. In many cases it would be if not punished, still corrected and he would be steered back to what was actually asked of him.
Instead I waited. I’m used to Harvey turning his hind end to me. If that weren’t a common occurrence I probably would have been more concerned. Waiting and watching I saw Heildorf thinking. He wasn’t showing any threatening behaviors. If he had been moving would have been a wiser action than standing there.
He was acting just like Harvey does, seeking approval and wearing his thinking ears. Horses have a definite look about them when they are thinking hard. He was experimenting, testing the waters.
I touched his hip and clicked. He kept trying. I was cuing the wrong behavior. It was his front end he was experimenting with. I was conditioned by Harvey to expect the hind end. He offered again and I got it right this time.
Because he was thinking and experimenting on his own we got shoulder targeting down in a couple of minutes. Then moved to the other side and got that one too. We were even able to negotiate a little hind end targeting.
By accepting what he offered instead of forcing what I thought we ought to do he learned that he gets a say in these things. He learned to ask if we can do something different. Now he has a new behavior well on its way to being cemented.
Letting our horses have ideas of their own leads us to far greater abilities than if we insist on making them only do what we ask when we ask. While there is a time and place for immediate response without thought or question there is also plenty of room for conversation.
I would love to know what was going through his head when he decided this was what he felt like doing.