Friday, April 6, 2018

An Update on Catching The Bastard

It seems hard to believe it was just two weeks ago I was writing about catching my little beast Bast. He's come such a long way in just a short time, and I am so proud.
"Am I a good boy?"
The fact that he is no longer having a bute mush syringed into his throat on the daily made a huge difference. However, I notice he is doing better at some of the vaguely shy behaviors (like hiding behind the other horses when he sees someone coming into the field) he's been exhibiting since day one in the field.
Meanwhile this one waits for me at the gate now after almost 10 years of literally not even picking up his head when I called to him? Wtf is happening?!
I started working with him multiple times a day. The first couple of days, my initial appearance would lead to him running around me and the other horses in circles until I could finally walk him down. I did get lucky one day and found him sleeping in the sun, which made the catching much easier...
"Cheating. You're totally cheating."
On the third day, he ran from me when I had reinforcements. I had my friends help me pull the other horses out of the field and graze them on the other side of the fence. When Bast ran from me, I was able to play "keep away from your friends". I refused to allow him to rest near his friends, and continued to push him away until he started actually looking at me not them.

Once he allowed me to walk up and catch him without flinching away (every flinch away resulted in me pushing him away again), we left the field and joined his friends for a few minutes of grazing. Then, I dumped him back in his big lonely field all alone.

After a few repetitions of this, he stopped walking away when I removed his halter. Instead he was following me around like a puppy.
"Okay, okay. I get it. I am also tired of running around."
On the following day, things were much improved. When I showed up, he didn't move at all. Instead he just watched me carefully and continued to graze.
Not running from me, despite my terrifying face.
I've been careful to play with the other horses when approaching. I think that's been helping, though it's rare that he'll leave what he's doing to come investigate. What has been helping a lot is adding a little pressure.

When I walk up and Bast doesn't raise his head to acknowledge me, I walk towards him with forward eyes and confident steps until he finally lifts his head to look at me. At this point, I walk backwards with my hands outstretched. This invites him to walk towards me, at which point I halter and treat him.
... that tail, though.
My goal is to make being haltered his decision, and to show him I'll respect his actions. "Ignoring me is fine, I won't come yank your head out of the grass. However, I will harass you so hard you give up and come to me." As time has gone on, he's become quick to step up to me. Sometimes he'll even offer to walk up to me without having to be invited in.

This has shown another breakthrough. Sometimes he waits for me to leave by standing at the gate. It's so endearing to see him care that I am leaving for the day!
"Moar mints plz?!"
The culmination of our work came this week when Maryland experienced some wild high winds. The horses were on high alert, and the other two in the field were bolting at the drop of a hat. Bast was less concerned than they, but definitely worked up by their concerns. When I drove up, the three of them were galloping in circles out there.
See him check in with me for a second?
I got out of my car and watched them, and Bast immediately started tuning in. While I stood at the fence, Bast continually kept watching and listening to me. The crazy weather had them so stirred up, he couldn't tear himself away from the group. However, his attention in the face of such craziness is heartening.
His staring cracks me up!
Hopefully it won't take much longer and I'll have him coming when I call ... maybe.

9 comments:

  1. What a smart boy. We’re having that wind too and it’s brutal.

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  2. What a good boy! I need to work on this - it totally didn't dawn on me that I could catch the other ones I can catch and take them out to work with my naughty one... revolutionary! :D

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  3. that first picture tho, omg

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  4. "HAY LADEE! I SEE YO- Oh. Nope, GOTTA RUN!!!!"

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  5. Sounds like he's making great progress!

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  6. I mean, if I had a field of food and friends I'd probably be uncatchable too :P

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  7. I love your methods. <3 Lots to think about.

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  8. woohoo!! Glad you are seeing such progress. You go girl.

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