When I pulled up, I noticed that Liza had already put Bob in the ring, so I decided to go over and say hello. I called out to him, and he came sauntering over to where I was standing which blew my mind, considering our last session. I rubbed on his nose and ears for a bit, and then he turned and walked away; shortly after Amy and Liza came out, and we began our session for the day.
Bob was standing at the far end of the ring, so I placed the grooming tray on a stand in the center and walked toward him to begin. He seems to like most of the grooming (at times he does take a nip at me whenever I clean his right front hoof), but Friday he seemed more relaxed and willing to allow me to do whatever I wanted. As I moved to get him to lift his hoof, he did indeed lift it but then brought it down on top of the toes of my boot (thank God for steel toes). Yep, it hurt like a son of a gun, but I was able to flex the toes inside the boot so figured nothing had been broken.
Throughout the session, Bob seemed a different animal (compared with the previous session when he ignored and resisted my efforts to get him to come to me). It was almost too easy; at one point whenever I would walk away after he came to me, he would follow without being told! Amy had spoken to me about two phases of this; one where I have him come to me, another where I stay in the center of the ring and have him move around the periphery of the ring. I started to attempt this, but each time I called to him, he would walk to me. I would speak to him while rubbing his ears and nose; finally, Amy and Liza told me that by doing this I was reinforcing his behavior, that I needed to be more firm with him to get him to circle instead of approach.
They had given me a ‘carrot stick’ (a metal rod with a length of rope attached) that I had used at times to get his attention so he would approach me. I called to him and, as he had before, he turned and began walking toward me. I popped the rope to one side and said, “No!” while pointing to the other side. He stopped, then walked to the inner part of the ring and began to walk around it. I continued to stand in the center with my arm pointed to the side while I turned with him, continuing to tell him to move on.
I’m not sure who was more thrilled at what was happening, but Amy had a big grin. Earlier she had remarked Bob had begun trusting me more as evidenced by his being more comfortable with my ‘snuggling’ with him; all that had happened that day seemed to reinforce this. I guess our next session will be the ‘proof in the pudding,’ but I am excited at the changes in Bob and me. One of Amy’s observations was that I was obviously more at peace with myself, and Bob had sensed this and so was working with me as a team.
A great day; a wonderful session and an indication that we (as a team) are going in the right direction.