I am training a colt named Reddy for Senator Mike Cunningham. Reddy is a year old and has never had any training or gentling done. He has a little bit of halter training, but that’s about it. I thought I would share my progress and training methods as we grow a bond between horse and human.
Since Reddy has had little to no human contact, the first thing I am doing is to build his trust. I am trying to show him that I am safe and will not hurt him. He is very flighty and skittish. EVERYTHING scares him, like seriously, everything. A dog will sniff and he will jump across to the other end of the pen. The method I use is called the Approach and Retreat method. It is used by many natural horsemanship trainers. It was actually shown to me by a friend in an attempt to work with my own horse. And it works. It takes A LOT of time and patience. And I would advice you to not try it on a really cold day. 😉
What I do is I walk towards his head, with purpose, not sneaky. The moment he shifts his weight in any direction, I back up. When I see that he is looking at me again, I will move forward again. And so the process goes. Eventually they start to understand that you only want to do what they feel comfortable with. When you can get right up next to him without him moving, it’s time for the next step. Continue what you were doing, but this time, see if he will touch your hand with his muzzle. Eventually he will. And the best part is when you walk backwards, he walks towards you.
With Reddy it is taking a lot longer than it did with my horse, but I have made progress. He will touch his muzzle to my hand, and the other day I had my back to him, texting somebody, and he came up behind my and started sniffing me all over, touching his nose on me. It tickled pretty bad, but I knew if I laughed or moved, he would flip out and I could end up on the ground, hurting. This was a huge step forward. He still won’t let me touch him, but we’ll get there.