Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We're Getting this Haltering Thing Down

Tex loves to roll.  Sunday when we turned him out, he rolled and rolled. And then rolled some more.

When he wasn't rolling, he was romping and running.

Of course, to get to the arena for his rolling and romping he had to be haltered and led out.  When I went into his stall with the halter, he didn't turn and go out the back door into his run-out.  I approached him and spent a few minutes talking and stroking his neck.  At this point, he is most comfortable with contact on his lower neck and withers.  He doesn't like his head touched and moving further back makes him nervous.  So, I stood at his withers with the halter hung over my shoulder, just hanging out until he relaxed.

Draping the lead rope over his neck is something he is comfortable with and it seems to create, within him, an expectation that he will stay and not duck out.  So, I did that.  And I rubbed his neck a few more times -- no pats, just rubs and strokes.  Pats can look and feel like punishment.  I want him to be clear that this about rapport and feeling safe.  He relaxed and I put on the halter.  It felt like he dropped his nose towards the halter as I reached to lift it towards his nose, but the movement was so small that I doubted it meant anything.  The positive thing was that he accepted the halter quietly and calmly.

Tex snorted at the bright white trailer tire covers as we walked to the arena but they are new -- and all the horses, except Jackson, gave it the hairy eyeball.  In the arena, he dropped his head for me to remove the halter and then sauntered off for his first roll.

When it was time to bring them back in, I wasn't sure if I would be able to catch and halter Tex without a lot of hassle.  He knew he'd be going back into the barn and he doesn't like it there.  The only thing he dislikes more is being left alone in a pasture, without a herd mate.  So, into the barn he goes; into his stall between Flash and Lucy.

Surprisingly, he stood still for me when I approached to bring him in.  He took one small step sideways and then stood still.  Again, I repeated the stroking and talking before draping the rope over his neck.  This time, he dropped his nose a good four or five inches right into the nose band of the halter.

Did he get praise to the heavens and cookies too?  You betcha.


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