Today as I worked with the boys, one of the things I did was review with Ollie about applesauce and syringes. Just the beginning and I need to lubricate that syringe. It was basically stuck!
On foot lifting, today showed a significant improvement. Yesterday, there were times when I could only get about two to five lifts of the right front before Ollie left me. Today I could get all the way to ten. Not on the first set of trials but on the second. When he left me on the first set, I went to a hind foot, cleaned it and treated it. Then I went to the left front foot and we were able to get through a set of ten lifts, ten holds, cleaning, and treating. Then I went to the left hind, lifted, cleaned and treated.
I went back to the right front and we were able to do ten lifts on my lightly touching the back of his leg. However, when it came to my lifting his foot, we only got one or two of those trials. When he left me for the third time, we quit for the day and I targeted him back to his stall.
There was no tooth grinding today, but his chin and lips are still a bit tight. I think that is why he sometimes fumbles the treats – his lips are just too tight to pick up the treat in a “handy” manner.
I also recognize that he is not leaving as often as last year nor for as long. Both a noticeable improvements.
Other improvement in this regard are also these: I like and want my horses to stand centered in the wash stall and to be straight, square, and balanced. To be able to pick up feet comfortably, the horse must be balanced throughout their body.
To that end, Ollie yesterday would come back into the wash stall, turn around, but be angled toward me and in an unbalanced stance. I’d click him for coming back (and treat) and click again for turning around once he faced mostly forward. But I’d feed this treat way over to his left so that he’d be more centered and not angled toward me and the treat pouch.
Today, he was much more centered and straight forward, looking out rather than angled toward me. So the use of “behavior economics” paid off. (Behavioral economics is the mechanics that animals will be most efficient in their use of energy. If they stand here, but the treat is delivered over there, they learn to set themselves up for success by standing where the treat is going to be delivered so that no excess energy is lost by standing here.)
I must also remember that I’ve had to reshape his response to a halter many, many times. I think we are finally reaching a more comfortable response to the halter. So it will just take the time it takes to get the feet (and the horse) happy as well.
Balance may well be an issue and I need to watch for that and be patient about.
Now, if I can just watch his face and mouth while I’m facing the other way and bent over!
Practicing for sheath cleaning will be added in soon enough.
Atticus was also improved today and he did very well. We are already practicing again for sheath cleaning. I say again, but it was so last year the last time we messed with that.
Grooming is coming along nicely as it targeting the forehead with the grooming brush. What I use for grooming now on all my super-sensitive guys is the jelly grooming mitt. My boys have repeatedly let me know that most traditional brushes are too harsh for them. I must listen them, right?