Sunday, March 16, 2014

16th March, 2014 Va Va Groom

On our official day off I was interested to see what Piglet would accept while standing loose and eating his hay. I still have to mind my [body] language around him but he is far less nervous than when he first came in. Not only have I steered away from Join-Up which I would maintain is not appropriate for semi-feral ponies - they would rather just go away and stay away - but I have also avoided any advance and retreat with my body. The initial touch with a feather duster was achieved with very subtle advance and retreat but any steps towards him, even with no intent whatsoever, were interpreted as chasing and caused him to panic. Accordingly I have stuck to giving him complete choice and judging any progress by how much he allows to happen when he is loose.

This has some disadvantages since if he chooses to leave and not come back there is nothing I can do other than make sure that he can see that I am available! I am therefore completely reliant on his interest in food. His owner tells me that she had tried to tempt him with all kinds of food before he came in but to no avail. I think the difference is that I have added the click and switch from food as a bribe to food as wages. I would never advocate depriving a pony of food (or water) or even under-feeding him but I do think it is important not to overfeed or over heat a pony so that he retains the natural level of interest in food that you would expect of a trickle feeder. He never gets hard feed unless he is working but he does get plenty of hay.

Grooming on his right hand side - a no go area when he arrived

After applying baby oil I am hand grooming his tail which he seems to love

Picking out his easiest foot - he is so unconcerned that he continues to eat his hay

His second easiest foot - he thinks he needs to keep an eye on me

His first right foot - a little more tense

His back right foot which used to be 'private' and he just keeps an eye on me again
Now that he trusts me a little more, I can gently walk after him if he moves away but it has to be without any intent and any emotion. The instant he turns towards me I drop my body language completely, turning away and curling my shoulder in. That draws him towards me and once he approaches again he gets a clickered treat.