Halter Means Work

Yesterday I went down to see Ruby and Sugar. It was mostly to catch up on cleaning, but also to work a little with Ruby as well. The cleaning was a lot but I got that all over with and then I got the halter out. I've noticed something that I never really thought of even though I've been told it. Some horses, Ruby especially, will run away from you when you have the halter out because they know what that means. I learned from Clinton that I need to change it up all the time so they don't think it's work for them as soon as they see the halter. Also another thing In learned is that I want the horse to wish he was with me instead of not with me. What I mean by that is I made it uncomfortable for Ruby to be away from me and made it relaxing to be with me. 

I had the handy stick (stick and string/whip) with me and as soon as Ruby saw me with the halter she started turning away. She does this all the time but recently I found a solution! Before I tell you what answer is I'll tell you what I've tried coming up with previously. 

A few times in the past, I used a treat to make her follow me to the halter so I could put it on. That, I can see now, was a very stupid idea but very common. This doesn't work as I found out very quickly. For one it takes forever to get her to follow me like that. It's nothing like getting a dog following you, they'll do it ten times faster and they don't seem to mind getting caught very much in the end. Ruby takes her time and sometimes doesn't follow me at all. Or I'll give her a treat and she'll just eat it and decide she might follow me for a few steps for another one. Anyway, some horses might follow all the way and others like Ruby won't bother, but they always end up knowing exactly what they're getting into and will outsmart us. 

The first time it might work, the second and third might too but it doesn't take long before they get that we're tricking them. And of course I've read from one of Clinton's magazine and videos saying that horses quickly recognize our habit. This is another reason I didn't work Ruby this time. I'm learning that I have to keep changing it up so the horse doesn't know what we're going to be doing when I take the halter out. And another thing is that it's not good to keep doing the same exact lesson over and over again. If they've already learned it, you don't need to keep doing it over and over every day because they'll get bored of it and might start fighting back. It's important to keep it up, but also start something new to learn as well.  Don't work so much on what they've already completed, or they're not going anywhere but backwards. It's important as well not to work them on too many different exercises at once; they will get confused and frustrated. 

Back to the dumb tricks I tried using with Ruby to let me put her halter on. The biggest problem I had was that I was basically begging her to let me put her halter on. A recent trick I did was that I used her fly mask and would put that on her and lead her to the halter. That worked better but that wasn't the answer to the problem. In the end she outsmarted me again. She would let me put the fly mask on thankfully, but she wouldn't literally budge after that.

The real answer was much better. I made it difficult for her when she chose not to come to me. When she came to me I released the pressure and rubbed her. I had the handy stick, halter and lunge line. When she saw me she started turning away. I didn't beg her to stay but told her "fine, if you want to run away from me then I'll help you with that". So I pointed in the hair as if I was going to lunge her and if she didn't move to a trot I whipped the ground with the handy stick. I have been doing this for awhile so now every time I come out it takes her less time to come to me. When I put pressure on her she starts off in the paddock and then finds she doesn't like working and turns and walks to me. Sometimes she turns and comes to me too fast, and a little threateningly, so I make her back up with increasing pressure and then drop it as soon as she obeys. I like it better when she walks with licking lips and head low to me. For the rest of the time I did desensitizing with the handy stick and lunge line, then we just both relaxed and I hugged/rubbed all over her. She was peaceful and dozing while I just loved on her. At the end I wanted her not to run off as soon as I took the halter off. I didn't think she would this time but I took the halter off and held her around her neck. Then I led her around the paddock for awhile, stood still and let her loose with Sugar. She did walk away but only for a few steps so it looks like she's improving. 

I lay down next to her and under her as well. This picture I took of her I went a little in front of her and lay partly down for the picture: