Our big black and white gelding, Beau, is continuing to make amazing progress. He will often come up to the fence seeking out attention and has come trotting up to me several times when I have been in his pasture. I wrote a little bit about Beau earlier in this post. He was probably badly abused before coming to the rescue and has been completely untouchable for the past couple of years. This winter and spring, we started working with him with CAT, which helped show him that people can be predictable and safe to be around. He has become interested and curious about people and now even seeks out attention and interaction.
Beau will now let me touch and rub all over most of his face, up and down his neck, on his shoulder, on his withers and on his back. Pretty soon, we should be able to start working with a halter!
With untouchable horses or very skeptical horses, people often take the wrong approach. They try to get the horse haltered so they can start working with the horse and assume that with handling, the horse will learn to like people. Catching the horse at the beginning can often involve cornering the horse so he has no escape or endless circles around a round pen. However, these sorts of methods can be very stressful for the horse and potentially dangerous for the human. They also can create a horse who is tolerant of people, but who still does not completely trust people.
With Beau, rather than work on haltering and other training, we’ve spent plenty of time working on getting him friendly and interested in interacting. It’s A LOT easier to train a horse who wants to participate in training! Once he is friendly and comfortable being touched all over his head, halter training is going to be easy. The methods we’ve used with Beau mean we’ve had to go very slowly and progress in baby steps at the beginning. However, taking the time to get him truly friendly and comfortable around people will pay off big time later on.