Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Pony Mugged Me



(Kind uv.)

I believe I've had a breakthrough with my little pony. You know how I've been going out and giving her treats and spending time in her stall? Well, yesterday I went out to halter her and she stood right there. She didn't take one step away. I thought, WOW.

I led her to her new stall and dropped her lead to groom her. She started to nudge my coat and hand.

Amazing.

This pony has never initiated contact of any sort. Yet, she was mugging me. And I was glad.

Any other horse, I'd think mugging was a bad thing, but with little Jasmine, I welcomed it.

I had this epiphany about letting her chase me. As you all know, with horses, if they're scared of something, chasing it makes them feel more confident. If they're scared of the 4-wheeler, let them chase it. If they're scared of cows, let them chase them and so on. I thought, I wonder if this would work with me. I'll move away and let her chase me (she had never wanted to do this before) and see how it works.

I didn't half believe she'd do it, but she did. The more I moved away and avoided her, the more she wanted to get to me. Each time she did something brave, I'd turn and give her a treat. The behavior escalated...in a good way. She was finally curious about me. She was finally interested in me and willing to act on it.

I thought, I'll pet her now. She didn't move, but she still didn't enjoy being petted. I wondered, Will she ever enjoy being petted? Is it necessary for her to enjoy being petted? I answered myself, No, it's not necessary, and it may never happen. So what?

I never thought I'd be happy about being mugged by a horse, but that goes to show how every circumstance is different. This little pony has never done anything mean-spirited or aggressive. I was happy to see she finally had the confidence to break through the barrier.

I don't know where this will go next, but I do know we have made one giant leap toward something good.

17 comments:

  1. That is excellent news, good work!

    BTW- that pony has the most adorable, itsy ears.

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  2. Congratulations on your mugging! What a high that must have been!

    And I agree with smazourek - her ears are too cute!

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  3. I think she's starting to trust you a little more all the time. She may never be a huggy type of horse but in her own way I'm sure she appreciates you as a giant Pez treat dispenser. I'm all for giving them treats as bribes or for rewards. If not for treats I believe Dusty wouldn't even let me touch her.

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  4. How cute! Jasmine has quite the forelock

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  5. Thanks, everyone. She does have little ears, unlike Beautiful, who I think has bunny ears.

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  6. GHM--I use to shun treats, but now I'm a convert. They have their place, that's for sure, especially with horses who are afraid of people.

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  7. ahh, that is awesome linda! she is so cute! i would want to hug her and kiss her sweet little face...i am sure she would hate that! lol...way to go and keep us posted!

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  8. Wonderful WONDERFUL progress!!

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  9. Horses are such funny creatures. They really don't like being ignored, it gets them curious. I've used that tactic on hard to catch horses, it usually works. I love those li'l pony ears and her bright expression.

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  10. That is so great! And she is just so adorable!

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  11. Woohoo! Good for you. You've got the beginnings of a great friendship there.

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  12. I had an ex-polocrosse mare who wasn't scared, but she didn't like people much. I thought I'd never find a place on that mare where she liked a scritchy, but I read online somewhere that if you go out every single day and just rub on them all over whether they like it or not, and scratch the spots that are usually nice for them, eventually they come around to liking it. She did indeed, and ended up a total fool for scritchies, and her attitude to me changed totally after that. I'm sure they aren't all the same, but it worked for me!

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  13. Love those tiny pony ears!

    That is good progress - if she's interested in you, and isn't fearful, you've got something to build on.

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  14. Go Jasmine! You've got a great Pony-Pal there, Linda. And what a cutie she is :)

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  15. Kritter Keeper--I think she would, indeed, hate that. lol. ;)

    Keechy--That's interesting and makes me hopeful she might enjoy touch one day.

    Thanks everyone, for the encouragement. I do think the interest has to be there--the curiosity--to make any progress at all. I'm encouraged by this step more than any of the others so far.

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  16. Oh my-that pony is so adorable! And I love your tactics...it is similar to the year long process we went through to get our wild mustang, Chloe, to let us even touch her much less halter her. In her case we were extremely lucky that she was such an itchy horse. She did not like being petted but boy did she love the right scritches in the right itchy places. We take what we can get with critters, don't we?

    The "chase the scary object" idea is the absolute best...seems to work every time!

    You have such a beautiful herd-I love visiting your blog and seeing what you are doing with them.

    Sue and the Crew

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  17. A nice, heartwarming post. I always remind myself how ponies are different from horses. (Although with us, it's the OTTB who likes visitors but would rather not be touched.)

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