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Need advice on taming new minis

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Taz

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That's wonderful!!
Don't worry about being on a plateau. It's normal for things to level off for a while then move forwards again. Stick with what you're doing and they will get there, the more time you take the faster they will learn they can trust you.
 

awi720

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I am making great progress! They both will easily take treats from my hand. They follow me around when I am in their pen and seem pretty comfortable with me. They have also taken treats from my kids (with a little hesitation)! I have been able to lightly touch their noses and under their chins while feeding them, but they back away if I do it too long or if I bring my hand near their neck or body. So how do I begin touching them and where should I try to touch them. When do I know it is the right time to try touching them? When I'm sitting down in their pen, they will come right up to me and rub their noses on my pants or coat searching for treats. They are right in front of me, but how do I begin getting my hands on them the right way?
 

Willow Flats

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You might start by gently, briefly touching them for just a second a little further back from the chin than where they are letting you now, just as they are taking the treat from your other hand so they start relating your touch to something good. It is important for them to begin to trust you so you can tend to their needs. Eventually you will want to be able to touch them everywhere, but that's going to take some time. I would touch and remove my hand as they take the treat and the next interaction later in the day or the next day move my touch back a little further until they are comfortable with that, progressing to the neck and withers as they allow. For now I would keep the touch brief.

We love our horses and so we desire to touch them! I saw this video (link below) a while back and I liked what this guy had to say about petting horses in general, so thought I'd share it.
Sounds like you are already very sensitive to your horses. They are very lucky to have ended up with you!!!
 
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Taz

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I always start with when they take the treat I use my thumb to touch their muzzle and build up till I can give it a rub with all my fingers right after they take it, kind of cup their muzzle. After that I move my hand up the side of their head a tiny bit at a time until I'm working my way along their neck etc. If you let them move away any time without pushing to touch them they will be more confident about it, just start again next time. Like Willow Flats said I then give a treat with one hand and use the other to touch as they will allow. You don't want to sneak at all but no sudden movements(as I'm sure you know). They will tell you by staying there when you can do more. Sounds like you're doing a great job 🙂
 

weeburnsyg

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You sound as if you are getting on great! I agree with Taz and Willow Flats on the touch and treat system. The best advice I got was 'be clear with your asks and rewards so they associate to it better'. So, I would touch for a second or two, take my hand away and reward immediately with praise and a treat. Then do it again, and again, and again... All fairly close together and for a short period of time e.g. 10-15 min sessions.

You'll know when you're ready to move to another area when they show absolutely no signs of stress on the area you are working on e.g. no flinching, moving back, or ears back in defence. Sometimes they may even start to get a little curious/cheeky as they associate that action with a treat. Mine would begin to look for the treat and get a little cheeky demanding it lol. While great to see the confidence growing in them I knew that was my signal to stop giving them a treat for that action, I'd give verbal praise and a nice rub instead.

I was advised to just work on one area until they were completely happy before I moved to another but do what is comfortable for you and the horse. I worked on getting them used to me touching them around their head, then onto the feel of the lead rope, headcollar training, being able to put the headcollar on and off, spending time clicking the lead rope on and off etc. All until they were completely calm with each move. If they stressed too much on a new move I'd just go back to the last step we had mastered for a few times to rebuild their confidence and then try the new area again. I hope that makes sense! Baby steps and patience but it sounds as if you're off to a great start!
 

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