Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Pasture Update

Maybe some of you have been wondering what the latest has been with Milo allowing me to catch him. As you might remember, there was about a week there were he would turn tail and run away from me for upwards of fifteen minutes. He and Chica thought the game was super fun, and I was about at my wits end.

Some commented here, and I also talked to fellow local horse people about opinions. Many believed that chasing him was not the answer, but to make him want to be with me, not be punished. Im not sure that I particularly followed that route, but I think a combination of a few things happened:

First, Milo figured out pretty quick that he was working himself in the hot heat twice a day now. When I could finally catch him he would be huffing and puffing and sweating all over. Unfortunately for him, he would still receive a workout as usual from me. I think a week worth of double workouts might have sunk into him that running away really isnt all that fun or productive for him.

I then decided to bring a treat to the pasture with me. Not a bribe, but a reward for when he would allow me to catch him or to come to me. Initially, Milo would simply stand stock still, but let me halter him. After the halter was on, I would verbally praise and rub on him, then give him the treat as a reward. I then started bringing out two treats; one for Milo and one for Chica. Because Chica was the real instigator behind all of this, I wanted her to see me entering the pasture as a positive as well. If she would approach me and let me rub on her, she got a cookie as well.

Next I started dispersing the cookie treats. I would start only bringing a cookie every couple of times, usually one cookie one day, no cookie the next, cookie the following again. This was to be able to start weaning Milo off of expecting a cookie, but rather just greeting me without anything - as things had been before for four years.

I'm pleased to report that there have been no incidents, in fact, Milo as been trotting towards me in greeting (today as an example as well). While sometimes I might have a cookie to reward him with, sometimes I don't, but it doesnt seem to be effecting his willingness to greet me with the halter anymore. I've been very pleased to feel that I have my  good ole boy back again, eager to work and happy to see me. Let's hope his little shenanigans are behind us. But so far, things are looking bright again on the pasture front. More to come.


Cedar View Paint Horses said...

Yay, success! Nest you have to train him to halter and brush himself. I haven't quite got that one figured out.

Sand. said...

Score! Well done, seems like you found the perfect combo of punishment (exercise) and reward (mmm...cookie)! It's it nice when it all works out without having to go into any 'solutions' you're not comfortable with? Congrats!

in2paints said...

Glad to hear he's doing better about that! :) I'm a big fan of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard, but each horse is different and it sounds like you and Milo worked out your differences. :)

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