I stopped at the tack shop yesterday, and got a new halter for my little feral mare, Venice. The one she had on was really too big. It was “cob sized”, but was still slopping around on her fine little Arab head. So this time I got a pony halter for her.
It fits pretty well. But still needs to be loosened one hole on her left side. Since her left side is her flinchy side, I wasn’t able to do that for the moment. I can touch the halter on that side, but still cannot grab the buckle itself. Getting the halter on in the first place took about half an hour since she’s still very head shy, so I didn’t really want to take it off and start over. It’s only just slightly too tight, so she should be fine in it for a day or two until I can loosen it.
She continues to improve, though we do have setbacks when I go away for competitions or get too busy to work with her every day. She reverts to her feral state very quickly if she’s not handled daily. However, despite my erratic schedule lately, she will now let me groom her on both sides, from behind her ears all the way back to her tail (though I have not yet tried to comb her tail). I have been able to groom her right side for a long time. But I wasn’t even allowed to look at her left side, much less physically be on that side until very recently. So grooming both sides from ears to tail is another big advance.
I can lead her and she is quite soft about it. But the risk of a spook is still there so I don’t lead her anywhere that she could get away completely. I bought another lead rope to leave attached to her halter (the old one shredded from being dragged). It’s a very short pony lead. She’s clever with it. If she steps on it, she knows to take her foot off without any panic. With the old shredded one, she got it caught up a couple of times, and just waited for rescue.
In her own odd way, she is very friendly. She likes to rest her nose against my arm. I am not allowed to touch her face, but it’s okay if she presses her nose against me. It just has to be her idea. She softly blows up down my arm and tickles me with the edge of her nostril. She greets all her meals with a nicker. And if I’ve been away for a day or two, she greets an empty-handed me with a nicker too.