Such a happier week this week!
As usual I had only about a half hour a day around work to spend with Zeke all week. I used that time approaching and petting, grooming, and walking in his stall. We also started experimenting with lifting the front feet.
At first I used a rope to just move the foot, releasing it when he moved it quietly. We progressed to me picking the hoof up the normal way, just for a second, then letting it down. He did very well with he left one, but was always nervous on the right.
Today was my first day off in seven days – I switched days off at work so I could be off for our fun Eq-Games event at the ranch this weekend. I’ll be helping with the judging, and it’s going to be real fun.
Anyhow – during the week Cindy tied Zeke up three or four times, just letting him stand there for a hour or more and figure out how to deal with that. Today I did the same, and was encouraged by how patiently he waited there. I had wrapped the rope several times around a pole, then bent down and tied it off near he bottom of the pen. I left Zeke for about ten minutes; when I came back he was casually working at the knot at the bottom of the pen! It’s a little frightening how smart he is!
He was sacked out with the towel again, then Cindy helped me work with the rope and lifting all four of his feet today. His hooves are getting pretty long, so learning to accept handling of them is one of my priorities for now. I want him to have a good experience when he’s ready for his hoof trim.
After that I left him and went back a few times, grooming him or working with his feet. Then, it was time for some walk therapy!
I tied up the gates across the hallway again today, because Cindy was there, ready to approach him while we walked. He went along nicely, then I led him towards Cindy. He balked, leaned…but didn’t leave. I snapped his rope as he leaned back, then praised when he came towards me. Then we let Cindy move.
While we walked, Cindy came up to us from every side and angle, just casually approaching, but Zeke didn’t trust her. He ran…but he didn’t get far before he felt the rope pressing, and he turned to face me! As soon as he realized he was looking at me again, he walked forward and we continued our walk. Each time Cindy approached he tried to make a break, but before he got so fast and strong that I wouldn’t be able to hold him, he turned and faced me. The tying really helped a lot! He was really improved in the way he thought about what he was doing, stopping to turn instead of blindly pulling and running. He quickly recovered and came forward for a pet each time.
When he’d tolerated Cindy several times without leaving, we went back to his stall to relax for the day. I took he drag rope off his halter, too, so tomorrow before the show we’ll see how he does with that sort of freedom. All in all a very encouraging day!