Nicki, an Arabian mare
I must tell you Nicki's story. Got a call earlier in the week to see if I'd work with Nicki--owned by people my sister knows. I've seen Nicki a couple of times, heard about her, not my idea of a good time. She'd worn a halter for about a year and a half--because they couldn't get near her to take it off! Oh, great! She also cannot be farried unless she's drugged due to indiscriminate kicking. Wonderful! At the time of the call, I put off the answer about working with her.
Well, today I decided to call them back and went over to see Nicki. Before hand, I'd laid down the ground rules in my mind--I would work with her only from the outside of the pipe corral and no way would I get anywhere near her rear end.
Nicki is an 11 year old, high-headed Arabian mare. No telling what her background was like; these people have had her almost two years.
I started by clicking the clicker to see if the noise would bother her. She was ok. Then I clicked and gave her a treat so that she associated the sound with the carrot piece. I moved around the outside of the corral and she'd follow--when she looked at me with two eyes, I clicked. It was extremely windy (and she's so spooky), but she stayed with me.
Since she was really giving me her concentration, I decided to go into the corral with her, mindful of staying away from her backend, always having her face up. She was very good!
Nicki, tentatively reaching to touch the butter container.
We started with the butter container, but since it was the same color as the dirt and hard to see, we switched to a sock with a rubber toy in it.
She targeted the sock which progressed to pushing the sock and then picking it up. The owners were absolutely floored!
We took a few breaks in between and Nicki was free to move away any time she needed to, but rarely did. She exhibited no aggressive or threatening behavior except once when I moved into her right eye, she slightly lifted her rear right leg, but didn't turn or kick. We alternately worked left eye, right eye, and both eyes with a little more emphasis on the right eye. Her right eye learning was slower but caught up in the end.
After the targeting, we worked with touching her head lightly, she was clicked if she didn't move even for a millisecond at the start. This progressed to being able to handle a hand laid on her head, to being able to have her eyes rubbed and finally her ears touched. Her forelock is a knotted mess from not being brushed.
We finished up with clicking her for lowering her head. It had been about two hours in the pen with her and the owner said he'd never seen her with her head so low for so long. Another person said that her eyes had turned very soft.