Sunday I spent regaining ground from the day before. I was quite noticeable that Raven was a bit more jumpy today after we scared the crap out of each other the day before. I did muster up the courage to set in the pen with him again, however it was not during feeding time for the other horses... I have learned my lesson. I sat on my stool with the hay at my feet and a laso in my hand. My goal today was to get the lasso around Ravens neck for the first time. I sat there and hand fed him hay while slowly putting the loop over his head until that movement no longer bothered him. At first he would pick his head up when I would move the rope past his nose. Eventually I could move the loop as far as his eye and not have him allarmed by it. Once I got to this point I waited for the moment that he was nose deep in hay and went that extra couple of inches past his ears and let go. When the rope fell acrossed his neck I was quite relieved that his only reaction was to lift his head up and jump backwards a few steps. At this point him moving anywhere away from me was good thing! once it was around his neck i sat there a few more minutes and let him eat some more of his hay. When he was done I stood up and took the slack out of the rope. I definitely had a worried eye on me the whole time. I slowly added pressure to see his reaction. Initially he braced against me, feet planted. I held my ground and after a moment he took one step forward. I imediately released the rope which had tightened up on his neck. We did this several more times until he seemed to get the idea to follow the feel of the rope. At the end of of the session I worked on getting him to accept contact on his forehead. He would immediately try to turn away every time I would reach for his nose. This strategy was now unsuccessful now that I have some means of restraining him. We left on that note for the day.
Monday and Tuesday I pretty much did the same thing with raven as Sunday. We started out feeding hay and getting the Lasso on. Once the rope was on again we played more with giving to pressure. I stood in the corner of the pen with the rope and passively played with "reeling" Raven in to me. He would get just out side of arms reach and panic and through himself to the other side of the pen. We would then just start it all again. I got the point that he would draw in nicely and stay. Again I would work him to the point that he would allow me to touch him on the forehead. To this point the contact that I have made with him he has just tolerated, he is very clear that he does not like it. Many times as son as I make contact his ears go back. Both of us are still on edge around each other.
Wednesday I was still working on the same routine just expanding where Raven will allow me to touch him. I got him to a good place where he started to grow roots as I was standing by his neck on his right side petting his neck for the first time. Just as I was starting to get a little too comfortable, Raven cam out of his introverted state and lunged at me with teeth and tried to strike at me with his front leg. It happened in a flash, luckily I was standing to the side of him so he made no significant contact. As soon as I jumped out of his way he went to the other side of the pen. We both regrouped and I drew him back in with the rope. He was still rattled but I was able to get back to the point that I could pet on his head again.
Thursday and Friday my time with Raven was minimal as I was preparing for Saturday's Mustang Madness Open house. I spent time sitting in his pen feed ing hay when I could and playing with yielding to the rope pressure around Ravens neck. Raven's favorite food so far is the hay cube mash with whole oats. At times I would hand feed him his mash. To give you an idea of where he is with his acceptance of humans in his life, he would try to brush the mash off of my hand so that he could pick it up off the ground and not have to touch me!
Saturday was a swarm of activity as people from the surrounding area came to Whispering Hills Farm to learn more about my teaching and training methods. Raven seemed to do well with all the extra faces moving past his pen on a regular basis.
Sunday was a day of rest for everyone. With the Open House out of the way my focus will be back on my mustangs and getting them ready.