I went out today for a third time today to the horse rescue I started volunteering at last week.
Over the weekend we took the big paint gelding I wrote about last week to a local trainer who’s agreed to work with him. The trainer seemed like a great guy and has some past experience working with very skittish horses. I’m really excited that he’ll be able to make some good progress with the paint.
I spent some time today with two of the mares at the rescue who also have big issues with trusting people.
Luna’s a greedy, food-oriented, chubby little black pony. She’s pretty curious and not at all shy about the her number one goal—trying to figure out which pocket you’ve stashed the horse treats in! However, she has not been handled much and is still pretty distrustful of people. She’s willing to let you touch her face in exchange for a treat, but that’s about it. I think she’d take really well to clicker training. Then it could become a game of her figuring out what she has to do to get a treat.
The other mare I spent some time with is a medium sized gray mare name Gracie. Gracie’s got serious issues with people–she doesn’t want anything to do with them at all. She’s pretty food oriented, but she doesn’t have that same level of curiosity that Luna has, probably since she’s been mistreated in the past and has learned that it’s better to stay away from humans. She doesn’t want to be touched AT ALL, but did consent to eating her evening ration of grain out of a bucket that I held for her.
After she had decided that me holding the bucket wasn’t going to kill her, I stuck my index finger out and whoops!, bumped her face. Her head shot up, her eyes widened, and she backed off several feet, glancing at me nervously. But pretty soon, she was back, nose deep in the bucket of grain. Then, oops!, my finger “accidentally” brushed against her face again. Her nose shot up out of the bucket, but she held her ground. The next time, she let me scratch the side of her nose with one finger and didn’t even really bat an eye. She let me touch her face a few more times before we ran out of grain.
She seems like a really smart little mare. She watches me as I walk around the pasture and will even approach me to see what’s going on, just as long as she can stay out of arm’s reach. Unfortunately, she’s learned over the years that the smartest thing to do is to avoid humans at all cost. Hopefully, with a bit of time (and lots of yummy food), she can learn that some people aren’t all that bad.