Well this last week has flown by since Hope and Valiente arrived last Monday.
Their first full day was spent eating and getting to know Segura, there was very little resource guarding as they are all out together with ad-lib forage and plenty of room to get out of the way if necessary.
Hope is very food orientated so when the feed buckets appear things got a little chaotic, but as the week has progressed she has learnt quickly where her bucket goes. In time they will learn where their own stationary target is and wait in front of it patiently.
For the first day I didn’t approach Valiente, when I walked past him I would pause and drop something scrummy for him. For this first week in particular I wanted him to have positive interactions with me and by day 2 he was quite intrigued by me.
During day 2 Segura came into season which was to be expected (subsequently Hope has too) and was quite tired and wanted to snooze. The ponies weren’t that interested in her laying down, but as soon as I went to sit with Segura, then Hope & Valiente came over to see what was happening, so I gave them some space.
Over the week Valiente has become happier to approach me, in return he gets a reward of some alfalfa nuts and scratches, it is important that I reward him when he approaches me showing positive emotions i.e ears forward, relaxed body. He has been a tense, negative pony for a long time so it is essential that he is rewarded when he is feeling more positive, this in time will tip the balance the other way as he will start to feel positive more of the time.
I have done a few very short sessions with Hope to help her understand that the click means “yes that’s right”. I have stood behind a pallet and clicked and rewarded her when she shows some relaxation or backs off slightly from the pallet. The first couple of sessions she was just pushing against the pallet, but as we have progressed she has started to relax a little. It’s important to remember that before she was rescued food was scarce and was probably the only highlight of her day. I have also been scratching her ears which she likes too so it’s not only the food she finds reinforcing.
Segura has been amazing this week, even though her hormones have kicked in, she has been very patient with the ponies. I am making sure that when the ponies are busy foraging Segura is getting her favourite scratches and some one on one time with me.
Saturday morning I arrived to find them resting together as a herd 🙂