Today, I had to fix Venice’s halter. She must have rubbed against something and undone the snap at the throatlatch. So I took it off, did it back up and put it back on her using the same procedure as the first time. Binder twine attached to the crownpiece buckle. Toss it over her neck, holding onto the end of the binder twine. Then grab the halter under her neck and use the carrot stick to lift it over her nose. Why she will put up with all of that and still not let me touch her face with my hand is something that only makes sense in her little brain…
She doesn’t really lead in the normal sense of things (where you walk and the horse confidently walks along beside you). But she does, after a week or so of dragging a lead rope that’s attached to the halter, have respect for the halter. So when I put a bit of pressure on the lead, she gets bug-eyed and moves forward, one hesitating foot at a time. It’s slow, but it is at least pretty consistent. She doesn’t go backward, though she does sometimes take a long time to go forward.
I’ve taken her out into the barn aisle a few times now. She’s a little afraid to go through the stall doorway. But once through that, she is calm enough to eat a few carrots and have her right neck and side brushed. I can run my hand down to her knee before she melts down. Still cannot brush her left side, though I can touch it after I’ve worked with her for a while.
After that I took her out the front door of the barn for a few minutes. That’s a pretty challenging thing for a horse. Even well broke horses don’t like to go through it, since it’s a human-sized door, not horse-sized. It took her a few minutes to work her way through it. She moves her front feet first, stretching her body until her hind legs are so far behind it looks like she’s going to collapse in the middle. Then finally steps those hind feet up when she’s looked around sufficiently for monsters.
Once outside she had a moment of sheer panic and bolted off to the side a few steps. But I was using a 22 foot line, so just gave her a bit of slack and waited for her to settle. After a moment I was able to approach and stroke her shoulder, which quite obviously calmed her down. That was heartening to see, since I used to be the source of all her stress, not the solution to it 🙂
I didn’t stay out long, since I didn’t realize that my border collie, Jimi, was outside. He’s a cutie, and wants to be helpful. But he often thinks that horse training is a border collie kind of job. I prefer NOT to have his help with a spooky terrified little feral horse, thanks very much.
So I turned her around and headed back into the barn (muttering “get back” to Jimi every few minutes… he’s very obedient and very smart, but excitement sends his memory flying out his ears). She was again terrified to go through the narrow doorway. But I just gave her lots of time. She’s really sensitive. I don’t have to pull on her head. Just lift the rope enough that she knows I’m asking, and wait. She works up her courage and moves a foot forward and I instantly drop slack into the rope and tell her she’s good. That works amazingly well. Too much pressure and she panics. But ask nicely and she tries her heart out. That’s probably a lesson in many other areas of life too 🙂