However, what we find even more interesting and sad in a way, is the amount of animals that see their owners as a bag of goodies or a pocketful of treats.
We also find it extremely disturbing that many people, especially animal dealers, who break their animals or train them as quickly as possible for the sake of a quick turnaround, or for financial gain, but in the process, can often, mentally scar the animal making them anxious of future humans when they are approached in a similar manner or to if they are approached at a specific area near their body, that is at least, until they come across someone to desensitize the area or areas that either trigger a negative memory or pull the pain memory to the fore which nine times out of ten has been, sadly created by a human or humans in the first place, sometimes leaving certain areas untouchable and the animal learning all the tricks in the book to dodge the sensitive area(s) from being touched or an issue being addressed in a calm manner.
As you will be aware by now we do not use food as a treat at all, we just learn to communicate with each animal on its' own level or from the way it reacts and then we encourage it, positively (without food as a treat, to WANT to do something in a safe and acceptable way. However, the most important thing is to encourage the owner and the animal to work together. After all, if it is just the communicator or desensitizer that fixes the animal in a way it understands then there will be little understanding between both the animal and the owner and the problem the owner had will remain.
First and foremost it is the safety for both the animal and the human that we are most concerned about so we consider it our job to desensitize the animals first and then introduce the owner/carer to the method that we discover works best per animal (each being slightly different of course) so that by the time we leave both are communicating on a 50/50 level.
Having spent about twenty minutes on a 'paint' who was extremely uneasy about lifting his hooves we managed to make him realise that there was no reason for him to use his 'flight' techniques to get away from the area that he did not want to be touched or handled. In fact by the end he was asking for his hooves to be lifted - what more could an owner want - at the gentle touch of a fetlock for the hoof to lift. Sami was a true gentleman by the end but more to the point his owner was so shocked at his ability to lift his hooves that he thought he was almost in a dream - we pinched him to realise that he wasn't though.
Whilst there, the owner said that he had a problem mounting this gelding as well, and wondered whether we could take 5 minutes to hold him whilst he got on. Of course we said, what's the problem, 'well as you are mounting him he bucks and rears . . . . but once you are on him he is fine . . . . ' well, now this is a dangerous area, and one that a horse as young as this does not need to start to learn at this early stage in its' life otherwise it could damage itself and someone and if in the wrong hands could become worse to the point that confidence is lost in both rider and horse.
Because the lifting of the hooves problem did not take that long we said we would certainly help but would prefer if we could see where or why he was doing this in the first place. Giving the rider strict instructions not to get on until we were ready and that he shouldn't flinch an inch either until we suggested.
Sami accepted being tacked up, a bit flinchy about the girth but that's nothing unusual for a young horse. He walked out fine, but sure enough as soon as he came to the mounting block he started to create. However, 40 minutes later using 50/50 communication, which means no edible treats and no aggressive body language, he stood like a lamb. This process was repeated and each time Sami allowed his owner to get on smoothly without a fuss. Another added bonus for both Horse and owner.
Photo's to follow. (our one ran out of charge).