I got told off by the cashier in Tescos yesterday for buying treats for my 'pet mule'. In her day dogs lived on scraps, she said and animals these days are totally spoilt. I almost issued her with an invitation to come and train Henrietta if she'd like to do it with a handful of very plain grass. The mystery of 'what's in the bag' is all that is keeping our relationship going.
I'm working on establishing some very clear cues since Henrietta seems to be finally tuned to words as well as gestures. She knows her own name and the tone that goes with it (shortened to Hen-ree for this purpose) and comes to call (when she's not looking for The Fox).
A hand up means that I would like to touch her face and she now walks forward to allow this to happen. Today I've been able to touch all down the length of it and down one side.
I'm also teaching her the word touch to ask her to touch a given target. Today saw the resurrection of the fake hand which had been abandoned for years in favour of a feather duster. Henry seems to think that the feather duster is some sort of purple stuffed fox!
If all of this is a bit like watching paint dry then I apologise but I think this one is going to take more time, patience, and technique than I have ever had to use before. The only other option I can think of is to create some sort of safe crate for her to walk into, with a rubber lining, so that I can touch her without either of us getting hurt. For now, I don't want to go down that avenue.
In the words of Mark Rashid:
It's my opinion that if you want to be really good with horses, start by getting a mule. If everybody who ever wanted to own a horse had to own a mule first, we'd either have a lot more really good horse people, or we'd have a lot fewer horse people in general".