|At the clinic, first day|
Because I pay a commission. And my commissions are good. Very good.
Eventually, I won't need to pay as much because he will look at me and be filled with positive thoughts and happy anticipation.
Robin explained it as a scale, the old fashioned kind with two buckets and a pendulum. On one side, the horse has his herd, his comfortable place, and his coping behaviors. In Tex's case, those behaviors involve flight if people are close by, and indifference if they are far away. That is the heavier side of the scale. In Tex's case, that side is very heavy. On the other side is me. I haven't hurt him; I'm kind; but I'm a human so I can't be trusted completely (based on Tex's history of abuse). My side of the scale is way up in the air.
What I need to do is add weight to my side of the scale with the goal of getting it, eventually, to be heavier than his status quo side. I need to fill my side of the bucket with desirable things -- different sorts of snacks (if your horse is motivated by food like Tex is), interesting games (going out to hand graze, at this point), massages (Lucy lives for neck and wither rubs), or just companionable hanging out together time.
The first two days of the clinic, Tex was reluctant to leave his friends or his corner to come see me -- even when I had a bucket of carrots (or senior feed or alfalfa) in my hand. So, we only gave him half a flake of hay instead of a full one to ensure that the goodies in my bucket were exceptionally enticing. By the third day, he was a lot more interested and when we got home -- he came every single time I approached the arena (okay, except for the one time he was hanging out with Flash who was across the fence).
The food didn't come free, of course. He had to walk over to me and stay. If he flinched, or pulled back, I left. "Oh, Tex, you're scared. It must be scary here. I'd better leave." -- and I'd take my bucket out of the gate. The first day of the clinic, he was like "whatever." This morning, he was eating his vitamins from a small bin I was holding (standing on his right side, I only pay from his right because that is his nervous side). He was being a bit tentative and then something in the universe (I saw and heard nothing) caused him to take a quick "oh, no!" step backwards. I looked at him and immediately left, marching at a quick clip back to the pasture gate. ...and he came running after me. I said, "Tex, are you following me?" He put himself in position and dove into his bucket. Because he is so tentative, I want him to be a bit pushy about it right now. So, I was happy -- both with him following, and with the gusto he had for eating from a bucket wrapped in my arms.
|Here, I'm paying commission from the left side. By the end of the first day, I was only paying from his right.|
Plink, plink. My side of the scale is slowly getting heavier. One day it will weigh more than the other side. It may take a while with Tex. That's fine. I'm not in a hurry.
As of Monday morning, my side was already heavy enough that Tex will come to me when I am carrying his fly mask and let me put it on, at liberty, without moving a muscle. I pay pretty well for that and he knows it.
|Back home Sunday afternoon.|