Australian Brumby Challenge ©
The goal for this week was to have Solo comfortable being touched and to teach him to accept a halter.
Early in the week we worked on consolidating the disengage cues, and he now draws in beautifully in a calm and relaxed manner with little to no defensive body language which is a great improvement!
Towards the end of the week I used a lunge whip as an extension of my arm to touch his body. I was initially targeting his shoulder but he was really not comfortable with that so I started targeting his rump. This sent him into a bit of a tizz to start with but within minutes he worked out I wasn’t asking him to move, but to stand still and accept the touch.
To start with he was extremely tense and ready to flee, but gradually relaxed a bit, and accepted the touch of the whip from whither to tail with no flinching. I slowly shortened the length of the whip and was soon able to touch him along his back with my hand! There was lots of chewing and blinking which is what I look for to tell me that the experience/lesson is being processed. (There are comparison photos on my facebook page if you would like to see the slight changes to his facial expression as he relaxed – Link is above)
Other things I’ve learnt about Solo this week is that he defaults to almost being shut down in situations that he is not comfortable in or does not understand the answer too yet, and he will quite often look calm from afar but looking at the smaller body language cues (eyes, lips, nostrils, muscle tension etc) show that he is really on edge and is probably just hoping if he ignores me for long enough I’ll go away and that he is not shy in showing me when I’ve pushed his comfort levels too far. He was also a stallion long enough that he has poo piles which make cleaning his yard soooo easy!!
We didn’t reach the haltering stage which is fine because we are going at his pace but it is definitely going to be a focus this week!