I'm beginning to wonder if I should start forcing it a bit.
He seems to have reached a comfortable (for him) plateau. I was hoping he'd be ready for the farrier next time he comes out...but, there's no way he's going to be ready at this rate. If I wasn't worried about his feet I wouldn't care how long he took.
He has a halter on and his former owner left a rope on him but he got that off about a month ago. We can't even touch him yet. She had to have him sedated to have him trimmed....we may end up having to do that, but, I was hoping he'd come around sooner.
If you held the end of the rope he'd follow you....I don't know if he's ever been tied.
His former owner got him from the auction as a companion for her mini horse, but he was too rowdy, so she didn't have him too long.
My game plan (if you could call it that ) was to let him come around on his own...but, he's taking his sweet time on that.
I think you pegged it when you said, "he's reached a comfortable for him plateau."
He seems like a wise fellow. Have you tried going out and having a good conversation with him? Explain that you'd PREFER to put a lead on him and putter around his space. Explain why you want him to have his feet done and how much more comfortable he'd feel. Tell him about your patient, kind and QUICK farrier. Remind him of the option he had before. Use your voice and mind pictures. He might surprise you and let you into his space. I do think it's time to ask him to open up and trust you some more.
KAZOOOOOOO!! We're all supporting you, and letting you know that Capriole can be trusted. You're safe and loved now. Please let Capriole into your space and feel confident that you'll be allowed to process things in your own way.
I admire your patience Capriole! It can be so hard to find that sweet spot where you can move forward. Our two mustangs were similar to Kazoo in that respect!
Would he follow you if you had a bucket of grain and let him have a bite or two every few steps? That was somewhat successful in cracking the ice with our two mustangs. I picked a bucket large enough for them to stick their nose in with room to spare and used the very best sweet feed. Take a bite, follow two steps, take a bite, follow three steps, take more, etc. About 10 minute sessions. Eventually they would follow me a fair length.
Our second breakthrough was being able to finally stroke the forehead when they put their head in the bucket, but it took awhile, as in days. First a simple touch, then a tiny stroke, then a longer stroke just down the forehead. Eventually worked our way to the cheek area and neck.
Some people play golf, some people work with equines.
I agree, it’s time to ask more of him. He has had plenty of time to “settle” into his new place. What are your long term goals for him? Is gonna be a pasture ornament or a pet? Maybe driving or walking/hiking buddy?
I don’t know him but if he were mine this is how I would force myself upon him. First I would lock him in a small space, an 8x8 or 10x10 stall until I was able to handle him. He would no longer have the option of getting away from me or out of my space. I would try touching him every chance I got, I wouldn’t care if he didn’t like it because I know one day in the future he will LOVE my touch. If you could start touching him several times a day you would make great progress. I would clean his stall with him inside too, he will probably be nervous the first few times but he will get comfy with that as well. He wouldn’t be locked in the small 8x8 stall forever, maybe a week or 2 max, just until I could handle him and confident that I could catch him once released into the “wild”
I don't know if mules are like donkeys in this regard but my experience with donkeys is that if they are afraid, they will stay away from you forever if given the choice, but if as Kelly suggests you get them into a spot where they have no other options, they will often give up and go Eeyore and let their doom overtake them. I got many feet trimmed this way, a few kicks and then, oh no, she's got my foot, I'm as good as dead...total submission and no problems at any visit thereafter.
Thank you all so much for your advice and support!!
Silver City, I have talked to him....I've told him if he'd let us touch him we could put a fly mask on him so he wouldn't be bothered by the flies and I've told him if he'd let us catch him he could be loose with the other horses.....
MaryFlora, he won't eat out of a bucket if I'm holding it.
Kelly, we mainly got him as a companion for Farah so I could take Prince out without her getting hysterical, but,I definitely would like to be able to take him for walks, I am hoping to eventually drive him...I'd like to try agility (even if it's just playing around in the yard ). We'll have to see what he likes to do.
Abby P, I don't want him to feel as if he's doomed , but, yeah, total submission would be nice.
I hope I answered all the questions, if I've missed any it wasn't intentional.....I truly appreciate all the help!
Haha, they don't STAY doomed, once they realize you actually aren't going to cook them up for dinner (or in my case, chop their legs off at the fetlocks), they become friendly. I just agree with Kelly on this one - if you try to wait out a mule, you could be waiting a looooooonnngggg-ass time (see what I did there?).
I'm trying a modified version of Kelly's suggestion....
Yesterday I closed him in the stall and went in and sat in the middle of the stall with a few pieces of carrot. He was very nervous....kept walking around me...wouldn't take any carrot from my hand (I didn't think he would) but he did eat them from the feed pan that was right next to me. I wasn't in there too long....maybe 10 minutes at the most. He pooped 4 times and the last time it was pretty soft, so I figured I'd stressed him enough. So, I opened the door to the turn out, I had to take a step back before he'd go out. I pulled some tufts of hay through the netting of the hay pillow and stood by the other door (to the barn aisle) and he walked back in and started eating. Then when I left the stall and closed the door, he came right up to the door while I talked to him. So, he wasn't too traumatized.
Today I tried it twice....he was much calmer....spent most of his time just looking at me while I talked to him. I put some hay in the feed pan and pulled it closer to me....and he pulled it back Still wouldn't take a treat from my hand. He pooped twice, and it was normal (TMI )?
Afterward, I was standing outside of the turnout, I saw him peeking out of the stall....and I told him, "I see you peeking at me...what are you doing way over there?" and he walked out and came to within a couple of feet of the fence.
I think I'll do this for a few days and see if we make any more progress...then kick it up a notch.
It may make him nervous at first but you aren't doing anything to escalate that, just showing him that there can be good things around a human. Wait until he discovers you can scratch his itches! My pony thinks that's a human's Only Job. Before you know it you won't be able to clean his paddock without constant "help".
"Wait until he discovers you can scratch his itches! My pony thinks that's a human's Only Job."
I don't think I posted this before. It's kind of embarrassing...but, a while ago Prince started turning his butt toward me.....since his former owner trained him to always face people (he was a kicker) it was a bit concerning, but he wasn't pinning his ears or acting cranky so I pretty much ignored it until I could figure out why he was doing it.
Then I read a post about someone's new horse, and she was concerned when her horse turned her butt to her in the stall, until she realized she just wanted butt scritches...
.then it clicked! On top of that I realized I had been reinforcing it by scratching his butt as I told him it was rude to turn his butt to people!!
It's hard to be a horse when your human is stupid....
Ever since I got our 'boys' (4.5 years ago now) I would just sit in the middle of their pen and be with them, scratch them, talk to them, etc.
Now that we are all best buds...
I go in, sit in my chair, and they both run over, turn the but to me for a good hard scratchin.
The funny part is that they will start backing up and end up sitting in my lap
"It's hard to be a horse when your human is stupid"