Day 2: I started this morning by sitting on a bucket next to her hay while she ate. The last three mustangs took a week or more to finally come and eat right next to me, but Crystal had no problem eating at my feet. She also did not flinch at all as I turned the pages of my book, or when I decided to start reading aloud to her. She must like classic English literature because she didn't take a single step back as I read. The only time Crystal did get a bit ruffled was when my cat unexpectedly jumped on my shoulders, sinking her claws in my back to stabilize her landing and I began squawking and flailing. Even at that Crystal only retreated about 3-4 steps to watch the show.
I like to do several short sessions a day with a mustang until I can consistently approach and halter them any time. I started this afternoon's lesson with R&A(Retreat & Approach) I asked her to stand still in the corner and face me as I approached and retreated. I could tell when I could begin getting closer because she would start meeting me a few steps out of the corner when she was comfortable with the distance I had established. It wasn't long before I could get close enough to tickle the whiskers on her nose with a long piece of grass. It annoyed her, but she didn't bother leaving. When she finally relaxed enough to eat the grasses I was bugging her with, I started playing the same game with my hand. Unlike most horses she did not want to sniff my hand much, she only gave it two good smells before she was bored and wanted to know what else I had in mind. The only next step I could think of was actually touching her. She didn't like the slow advance I usually use, so I switched tactics and made gentle clumsy swipes at her face until we accidentally collided, then I retreated to the far corner of the pen. After I did that a few times she stopped trying to dodge my hand all together, so I started rubbing her cheek and retreating. After only two rubs she started meeting me in the middle of the pen and offering her cheek to me. I ended the lesson when she was letting me rub all over her neck and shoulders.
So far she has not gotten upset with me at all, nervous a few times, a little annoyed definitely, but she is not a flighty horse and has not even taken a single trotting step to avoid me. She definitely takes her time to really think about whether or not a situation is worth wasting her energy to be scared about. I hope it's not just because she is so miserable being pregnant that she is this calm.
At one point today she heaved a big sigh like she was thinking "I guess I'm stuck with this irritating little primate. I hope I can figure out what it takes to make it go away and leave the pregnant lady in peace."
Day 3: There really isn't much to write that can't be said much easier and more elegantly with pictures. I am still in disbelief that this mare could make the change from wild animal to trusting and compliant this quickly.
I still haven't done anything on her right side yet, but I am inching my way over there while I am teaching her to yield to pressure on her head and neck. Last night I removed the neck band that held her number ID, that is always a milestone, there are a million little steps of trust that you must build on to get to the point of removing that tag.
Her favourite scratchy spot is her belly button and udder area, I am glad of that because it makes it easier for me to check her to see how soon the baby might be coming. I think we still may have a week or more to wait. Mares love to make liars out of anyone guessing due dates.
Crystal definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. I can't even begin to list all the ways she has surprised me. As an example: She doesn't require hardly any repetition to understand what is expected and to get comfortable with new things. Also, all of the other mustangs I have played with wanted to sniff me over thoroughly before they would let me touch them at all, and continually sniff me when ever they feel the need for reassurance. Aside from the two little sniffs at my hand in the beginning, Crystal hasn't wanted to smell me at all. When I offer my hand for her to smell she just looks like " No thanks, I can smell your stink from clear over here."
I will probably be silent for a little while because for the next week or so I don't plan to do anything more than just pet and rub on this girl to make sure we are good friends before the baby comes.