Paco and I have continued to learn how to speak to each other using Clicker training. Long story short – it is a way for me to ask him to do something – or vice versa. Once you’ve worked together for a while you have cues (me words or motions – Paco motions) to ask for something or to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to being asked. And it works both ways.
After Paco’s ‘run in’ with the vet in November of 2012 he has been very nervous about being haltered or even about having a rope any where near him. Last year at this time it was all he could handle to have me carefully and slowly work him up to having a rope over his shoulders and then over his neck …
This past week we’ve had a major breakthrough. He is now comfortable with my putting his halter on – and taking it off – both inside his stall and out in the paddock while Ede is wandering around us.
He has now associated the halter with carrot and grain treats. We’ve worked for about twenty minutes EVERY morning since the beginning of last month (February). However, we’ve only focused on haltering for one week! Clicker training is a great way to break down those ‘scary’ tasks into something we can both manage.
The most nerve wracking time for him this week has been when I approached him to take his halter off. I think that is because he is waiting for me to approach him with a needle or some other nasty piece of work … and use his halter to make him comply. I love that he CAN say no … He moves his head ever so slightly away from me and moves his ears back. I just stop … and wait. Today – when he was comfortable and ready he turned back to me and softly touched my hand. That is the cue he has developed for saying ‘yes’.
So it would seem all is well … right? Not yet. I have a farrier coming out in mid-April to trim up the herd’s hooves. I’m working hard to try to get to where it will NOT be a betrayal of the trust that Paco is redeveloping in me. Our next steps involve adding a step in which I will use a syringe to squirt tasty apple sauce into his mouth. Then a step in which I will handle his hooves. Perhaps that will lead to an oral dose of sedative and the farrier lifting his feet…
While Paco and I are busy working in his stall – the girls like to raid the hay barn! I just unwound a new bale – so I was surprised to find they’d managed to fit themselves in there with it all!
All four donkeys are very ‘itchy’ this week. The warm sun and milder days are making them start to shed (and shed … and shed!). I love this time as each one is keen to be brushed and fussed over for endless hours. 😉 Rosie is especially fond of hugs.
This afternoon the sun really worked its magic. You could hear dripping everywhere. We’ll need lots of that to melt this almost hip deep field of snow!
Those clouds, however, tell a different story. More ‘weather’ coming in within 24 hours.
Sure enough, while we were down in the front field the girls noticed Ede calling from the front porch. Seems there is a new ‘weather warning’ out for our area – for tonight and tomorrow! Another 10 to 20 cm of snow on the way starting around midnight. Geesh!
Seems that muddy slide of a hill isn’t going to look like this in a few hours …
Seems even a donkey can be exasperated by the prospect of yet more snow this winter!
Darby decided to make hay while the sun shines and set about nibbling any and all of the green she could see peeking through at the fence line.
Rosie spread the word to the others and they went off in search of greener pastures as well.
I sure hope that by Sunday we’re back to looking like this …
… I enjoyed spring’s brief visit today!
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