Aesop’s progress

Aesop has definitely turned into a “clicker-horse” this last week and sees people more as an opportunity for reinforcement than as scary, foreign beings. He follows along the fence-line now when he sees us walking by and eagerly plays his target game inside of his round pen.

I have moved on to face touches with him so we can move toward haltering, grooming and leading in the near future. I used the targeting to get him close. Once he was calm and really comfortable standing within reach of me, I just reached up to his nose. If he backed away, I walked off a few feet and let him approach me to begin again. When he didn’t back away, I clicked and treated. Here, in our second session, you see that he is starting to understand what to expect and begins to “offer” me his nose with a slight bend toward me.  At  :54 you will see him be unable to stay through the touch and pull his nose off to the right. I just let him go and immediately he offers his head to try again and is successful. What a good boy! Again, no coercion. If he wants to walk off and not work on being a tame horse today, he can. If he is particularly relaxed and loose during a face touch, I reward him with a chance to target.

The face offering is a wonderful example of two way communication with a horse. I chose the lesson and the rough framework for it, but Aesop added in a bit of bend when he felt relaxed and ready. He could do this because I was predictable and the rules of the game were consistent. If I am aware and present in my work with my horses, I will begin to notice body language and micro-expressions that will inform the work I do. As I notice these small offerings and honor them, Aesop will become even more relaxed with me and be able to trust even more.

One thought on “Aesop’s progress

  1. Beautiful and eloquent.

    In the first video, I love the dance of subtle body language between the two of you that occurs during the 30-39 second mark. While you come through the gate he has a shift back/shift forward, then what appears to be a small startle response (sound of gate clip?), you step back to begin and immediately find a clickable moment…then I LOVE that he brings his feet forward after your click. Beautiful choices and a willing dance partner.

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