The first day Diamond was here was only in the evening and overnight. I just let her be in the “lane” next to my barn and paddock. The boys, Atty and Ollie, could be next to her separated by electric fencing.
The next day, Thursday, May 18, 2017, I played with her for three short training sessions. One session was targeting to a hand-held target, one was to see if I could get both halters off, and one was to see if I could get a more accurate height measurement.
I had tried to feed her by hand twice, with different feeds, but determined that she didn’t like the smell of my hands after taking off my mucking gloves. Noted. Stinky hands are not appreciated.
She readily ate the treats in the food pan though. And feeding her there reduced the frequency of her mugging me. And she seems to have clumsy lips, dropping or not taking the treats well even when they are rather large pellets.
All sessions went went, but I did notice that she did what I call a “micro” flinch when I reached for the halter. Noted. Hands near her head are not appreciated.
In session one, I shaped my way to being able to touch her shoulder, neck, and near the halter. I had the best luck with the halter when her head was down while eating treats from the pan. I was able to get each halter off although it took longer with the rope halter and she didn’t like the long crown-piece string moving around. Noted. Anything that moves near the head is not appreciated.
In session two, I tried shaping her to touch the rope halter with the future end behavior to be her putting her nose in by herself. She did touch the halter a few times, but seemed confused or unsure of the task itself. I decided that she didn’t understand targeting well enough yet. This session also seemed to show that hand feeding was not the best idea yet.
In session three, I shaped my way to holding the measuring tape near her so that I could see what her actual height is – 14.0 hh. She’s wary of the tape in general and more so the closer it is to her. Noted. New things are not appreciated.
Today I went back to using the pan to toss treats into because as soon as I start to feed by hand, she gets a bit muggy. That is, she stops looking for the food in the pan but she also stops looking for the target and decides that my hands and treat pouch are a better bet. I also think that she’s tense and that the reason her lips seem clumsy is that she has tightened them in apprehension.
I also went to protected contact, not so much because I thought she would bite or anything, but to minimize the mugging. I turned the charger for the fence off since I didn’t want to get zapped!
I did two sessions today and just wanted to explore things and solidify other things. I wanted to make touching the target with her nose a very strong behavior, along with looking for the food in the pan.
She definitely got the idea of looking for food in the pan. Sometimes, though, my aim wasn’t the best or the Alam cube bounced out. If that happened, I threw in another pellet. This sometimes startled her but I’m sure she’ll get used to it in time. Also, if I moved my hand too fast near her head to toss a treat into the pan, that startled her. She’ll learn that these things are not something to be frightened of.
Targeting was good for the most part but sometimes she aimed for the stick. I also played with where I could put the target to see if she would or could touch it. High was okay, as well as high and to the side a bit. Low, not so much, especially low and to the side. She could only go so far and so low. If the target was slightly beyond those limits, she didn’t try.
We will continue with targeting until she knows this behavior solidly. Onward and upward.
I have noticed something a bit odd about how she moves. I noticed this the first day when trying to load her onto the trailer and I’ve continued to see something. I don’t yet know what the problem is but she often acts like she can’t move her feet at all, like she’s rooted to the ground or stuck in cement. She doesn’t walk like she’s lame; but, if she has to pivot or turn, she sometimes acts like either her shoulders or stuck or her hind legs are stuck in some way. The bodyworker will be here in a couple of weeks.
If you are interested in helping us help Diamond, please click here to go to the GoFundMe page to help defray the costs of rehabbing Diamond.