The new hay arrived. It is green and smells like a grassy field. Very lovely! The odd thing is that mustangs are very conservative and don’t like to switch what is working for them, so it takes food deprivation to make them decide to even try the new hay. The domestic horses, in contrast, chowed down on it.
This unwillingness to try new foods is a big problem for me. They won’t try rolled oats, omolene, horse candy, alfafa, carrots, cheerios, or cantaloupe. I need a better reinforcer than hay. They like rock salt.
The new band is a providing me with a mixture of success and frustration. Grandma will follow me around and let me pet her. Studly DooRight wants to kick me out of the pen. Feather and RainDrop are growing more and more comfortable with being handed food and I expect to be touching RainDrop in the next session. Tawny Shawnee touches me with her nose with little hesitation. I desperately need a way to work with them individually, but I have to just figure out how to make the current conditions work. Its a challenge.
I really feel frustrated with the other bands of horses. They are stuck on the trust/fear point. It hasn’t helped to put them in the squeeze chute and hurt them (freeze branding and gelding). I think it would be possible to work through this fear thing if my co-trainer and I always had a definitive “right answer”, where the horse could know it was doing the right thing. But we don’t have that paradigm working for us. Bob is much more focused on desensitization by flooding and it is counter-productive for creating trust. If it can be done, I would like to see it.