|Faxi from Extreme Farms|
I have a plan for how to gain my new horse Faxi´s trust. Gaining a horse´s trust is one of the most exciting challenges I know and I love challenges! The plan includes time, imagination, freedom, trust and letting go of control.
I choose to take his halter off when I got him even though I knew he was hard to catch. I want him to choose to be with me. I believe it´s going to take time and some imagination from my side. The ”right thing” must be the easiest choice when I eventually start to ask him. I haven´t tried to catch him yet (I had him for 25 days today.) He´s going to catch me! In the beginning I had him on a pasture near the house with one older horse. I spent a lot of time just hanging out there, sitting on the ground, on a chair, checking fences, walking around, grooming and training his pasture mate. Faxi was watching me closely all the time. He often came up to me to smell me and say hi. Sometimes I stroke him on his neck or forehead briefly. I never handfed him or tried to catch him.
After two weeks I moved him into our yard witch is BIG and has a good fence. I have him there now. He´s getting used to us doing stuff, our dogs, vehicles, people coming and going, gun fire= all kind of ranch activities.
I like having him so close it gives me an opportunity to monitor him closely, get to know him and he gets a chance to figure us out. Fair and square for everyone. He is so curious! He´s following us around when we´re outside, investigating everything we do. As long as he´s the one initiating contact he loves attention. If I go right up to him he is very cautious. It´s easy to make him come to you or go away using body language. He´s a master of body language and one of the smartest horses I ever met.
If I had a round pen I would do a join up with him, unfortunately I don´t have that. One of my neighbors who lives one mile from us has offered to let me borrow hers several times. I am going to do that. I am thinking of how to do that. I could easily catch him with a rope and put a halter on him and either walk or trailer him over there. I just don´t want to do that without his “permission”. I feel like he´s slowly starting to trust me so I don´t want to use my “predator” side and catch him that way. Not when I have come this far. I do believe a join up and some work in a round pen would do wonders for our relationship. I have to think this through, how to get there. With lots of time I know that he will come around and willingly take the halter. Maybe I´ll just wait. He allows me to do a lot when he is free. I even put some weight on his back a couple of times.
Today I wanted to do something new and take our relationship a step further. We have a system for communication that works pretty good at liberty. Time to test it. With some help of old Penny. I trust him. How much does he trust me? If I let him free outside the fence? Would he run away when he has the chance or would he choose to come with “the herd” (me and Penny)?
He mostly eats hay, grass is a rare treat. I wanted to show him that being with me is something positive. I put a halter on Penny who was very excited about going somewhere. She´s retired and doesn´t get to go places every day. Philip decides to come with us on his horse Wrangle. Penny and I led the way. I left the gate open. It took about two seconds and Faxi is coming at a fast speed tolting away down the driveway. It didn´t take long before I couldn´t see him anymore. We have a long driveway luckily.. and the road that it leads to is a long private road with only a few houses (lots of horse people.) I continued to walk with Penny to our pond where there is a lot of grass. Philip and Wrangle are right behind us. I can´t see or hear Faxi. Our horses starts eating the grass and it doesn´t take very long before Faxi joins them.
We spend a good two hours hanging out by the pond. I´m glad the horses got to eat some good grass. I had Hayley in the Baby Björn http://www.babybjorn.com/us/ and had to walk around a little bit to keep her happy. Faxi new exactly where I was all the time. When it was time to leave Philip took Wrangle for a ride. Faxi stayed with Penny and me, never thought of anything else. I´m glad he made the choice to take off by himself in the beginning and then made the choice to come and stay with us. It´s an amazing feeling to have your own “herd” with you at liberty. This time I cheated a little bit by having a halter on Penny just in case but I often take Trigger with me completely free in the woods when I go for walks. I love giving them as much freedom as possible. Desirable things should be easy, like choosing to eat grass with the herd and being protected against predators (bears and mountain lions that we have plenty of.) Partnership should be built on trust. I believe todays experience was a positive one for Faxi. Imagination is everything! Being with horses has surely challenged me to use mine more.
If you have/had a horse similar to Faxi; cautious, hard to catch but at the same time everything You dreamed of in a horse, I would love to hear how You gained his/hers trust and developed Your relationship.