I have been spending some time refining Tarot’s self-haltering behavior, making sure I didn’t skip any steps and “lump” any of the behavior. Lumping is when you try to teach behavior in too big of chunks and end up skipping steps, so the animal is confused and the behavior isn’t as solid as it could be. A “shaky tower” of sorts. I had noticed that even though Tarot was putting his face willingly into the halter and holding it there while I threw the crown strap over, sometimes his head was coming up a bit when I reached my hand from the right to the left and sometimes when I put my hand to the buckle to secure it into place. So I went back to the place where the behavior was perfect and made sure I had all my steps in place. I had to start back at bringing my right hand down:
Once he could keep his head down with my arm dropping down, it was time to move it up to touch the buckle. Here’s that step:
So, our next step is the buckle, re-visited, with a low, still head. I was laughing at myself, thinking about how in traditional horse training I would likely be viewed as crazy. Who cares if the horse raises his head 3 inches when you latch the buckle? There’s bigger and better things to get onto, like riding! And, I agree, riding will be great, but not until we both think so. If I skip just this tiny step of making sure Tarot is comfortable with his halter, then I am ignoring his comfort level with equipment on his body. I don’t want to do that because his comfort is my safety, among other things.