Taina Exploring

Taina and I have taken to going on walks about the property regularly now, we explore new things and check out what the other horses are up to. So far she doesn't have the courage to approach another horse over a fence, I'm hopeful that will come, I'm still her safety net. I am eager to be able to start turning her out, I don't always have an hour plus to spend exploring with her, but she still needs time out. Next really nice day I'm going to try putting her in the small paddock next to Wisp with a few of her favorite puzzle toys in hopes she will stay out without me there for a bit. Last time we tried anything of the sort she just paced the fence line. When I take her out she likes to offer me behaviors and follow me around to get treats instead of eating the grass (she is a tropical horse and not a fan of our winter tufts of brown "grass"). So I've been trying to get her to graze more instead of focusing on me, so I pour the treats in the grass to use it like a snuffle mat. The treats I'm using are only hay pellets, so the only value they have is the history of our relationship, I'm sure the grass is better tasting.

I think it's important to note that I haven't actually been training anything, despite all our apparent progress. I'm still working on focusing our efforts on relaxation and happiness - no stress, pressure, or pushing issues. So our training is actually really boring. She only knows stand facing forward, head down, back up, and targeting. I haven't pushed to work on anything new yet because her whole world is new, so it's not a good time to work on behavior change. Because of our focus on only doing things she wants to do, when she wants to do them, never pushing for anything. The only thing she makes me work for is getting her to go back into her stall when we are done. haha! The opposite problem we had before. Her world is slowly opening, all at her own pace. The reason we went backwards during that period was because I tried to take control and actively push her boundaries, rather than letting her boundaries naturally stretch as her confidence in her world grew. My attempts to push her (under my self-imposed pressure to make her better right away!) only made her less confident in herself, and me, and shrunk her boundaries fast. Today while she was snuffling treats off the grass, she even let me brush all of her. She was so happy, so was I. We even jogged a little bit and she let loose a good twirling head, bounce up and down, tiny explosion. That must have felt so good!! The only change we made is that I stopped pushing - and I eliminated our one aversive situation that occurred often (me cleaning her stall with her in it). By removing the one aversive experience she had with me, the strength of our relationship grew exponentially, the conflict was removed, and our trust in each other has grown. Now she takes me for walks and we both have fun. 🙂