Dec.30 pasture time
Went to play with Sonny on a cold windy day. After 20 to 30 mins of unsuccessfully trying to get him interested in coming close enough to play the catching game, I quit and left the pasture and visited with V for a long while. Then I went back into the pasture and after a while, I gues about 15 to 20 mins,, he finally did come up to me for a cookie, but it was after I got within 20 ft of him. I chose not to toss the rope over his neck, instead just gave him scratches. He walked away, and then came back again for another cookie, and I made a point of being the one to walk away before he did. By that time, I was tired of the cold wind (I've decided that V's hill is the coldest spot in Middle Tennessee!!) and it was getting a bit late anyhow. I decided the best course was to do the opposite of what he expected and give him something interesting to think about.
I thought about writing to Parelli to see if they have any ideas to fit my situation, and I tried to think of possible answers they may send, and I thought that maybe if I fed all the horses 6 days in a row,,,the next time that I have 6 days off that might be interesting. The thing they at PNH seem to focus on in getting your horse to want to greet you at the gate is to control the food and esp. the water. I can't do anything about the water, but I could be there to be the one to feed. I don't know if 6 days in a row would be enough to implant a new habit in him, but it's worth a try. At PNH they say when the hrose comes to associate good things with you at the gate, then it transfers to the times that you're there to play rather than to feed or offer water.
Interestingly , he used to come to me at Craig's place,,,not every time, but fairly often, when I'd blow the whistle,,he'd come all the way to the gate from out in the pasture. I had worked on that in Craig's arena even preParelli---had him on a longe line and blow the whistle, then draw him to me for a cookie. ,,worked up to him lose in the arena and he got a cookie each time he came to the whistle. Maybe I need to do that again. Or , at least start using the whistle again,,,maybe he associates cookies with the whistle sound, but doesnt associate them with just me. Interesting critters, horses.
Best that I remember, he started not coming to me at V's old place shortly after we got home from our course, and I was very focused and way more direct line in my 'plan' for the play. And, now, maybe he's just still suspicious after the move.
Anyhow, I am counting yesterday as 2 times of undemanding time (of 7 ) on the task list on Parelliconnect!!
I usually get frustrated or feel a lot of dissapointment when he doesnt want to play, but for some reason, I didn't yesterday. I found it interesting, and did feel like a tiny bit of progress was made in that he came back into the pasture where I was when I didnt' follow him into the pasture he escaped into like I usually do. Also, I did have fun interacting with the other horses , esp. Joe (what a SWEETIE), and Tiago. Oh yeah, that reminds me that at one point Sonny was heading toward me , and I had forgotten to keep aware of Amigo's (Alpha Horse) position, and Amigo suddenly was between us with ears back and drove Sonny into a veer which kept him from coming to me at that time.
Hmmmmm, I just thought of something else. Whenever we got throught playing at Craig's place, I would give Sonny some grain as his reward for working/playing. That was the only time he ever got any grain back then. Now he knows he gets grain every day, and I'm not the one giving it. How interesting........!Maybe that's one reason he came to me there, he knew he would get a grain treat. And now #1 that's ho-hum cause he gets it anyway, and #2. I havent given him grain treat after playing since we left Craig's because I don't have my own grain supply, and I don't want to dip into V's even though she's told me I could treat him with her grain if I want to. I think I'll pick up a bag, or pay herfor a bag now and then and start treating him again with a little grain after play, and see if that makes a difference.
Jan 1 playing with the herd
Big progress today, maybe even a breakthrough. My sister & I went to play with Sonny, but it was so sloppy wet and muddy that I decided I didn't want to get my 22' line all heavy with water & mud, so we went into the pasture to just give scratches and cookies to the horses. Of course Sonny had headed out into the pasture to get away (from me!) but all the other horses (8) were very social with us. Well, lo and behold in only about 15 minutes who's heading up the hill at a nice clip of a walk but Mr. Sonny !! Either he decided that I wasnt there to bring him out of the pasture because I didnt have a lead rope and halter in my hand, or the session on Thurs. had gone a long way to help him decide that I don't always take him to play.(work in his opinion). He didn't take a cookie and leave. He stayed right there with the other horses accepting his scratches and occasional cookie from me. Two times he took several steps backwards, which was funny to me. It was almost like he was saying "look what my human has taught me is fun to do". Then I decided to see if he would play stick to me, and quite to my surprise and gratification, he did! Walk, trot, turns, halts, backup, pretty as you please. IN A 30 ACRE PASTURE. AT LIBERTY. I tell ya , it felt huge. But , it gets better. We played stick to me, then one of us would mosey off a bit, then I decided to see if I had any draw at liberty in that open space. He came over to me when I asked him by yo-yo technique. (the 2nd yo)! yay! But, it gets even better. At one point, I was talking to my sister, I was about 30 feet from Sonny and he laid down and rolled. yep, in the mud. As he was standing up, he seemed focused and 'connected' to me. I really didnt put much thought into it, but just up and started jogging backwards asking him to come to me. He TROTTED up the hill to me. A strong, collected, powerful, beautiful trot. It was awesome. I could hardly believe it was happening. I was thrilled...and a tiny bit uneasy. I mean it was a first for me to have a 1000 lb animal coming at me so fast, in the mud,,,hoping he can time his stopping acurately and allow for possible sliding. He stopped on a dime at just an arm's length from me. Breathtaking. What a fabulous feeling. I'm still on cloud 9 several hours later. But, it gets better. He trotted with exuberance. I'm talking about a little hop up with his forequarters,and a toss of the head as the began the trot. I've seen horses do that with Pat online when he sends them off at a trot. Not a dominance thing, it's a fun, exuberant thing. I'd never seen Sonny do that. Wow, what a great outcome for what I thought was going to be a dissapointing session when I left my halter and lead rope behind.