If you watch my videos on You Tube you will have seen yesterday that I have been working towards catching Tommy in the field! When I first met him at the Blue Cross they were just making progress with getting close enough to catch him in the field, with a headcollar on. He was still very nervous and it was a slow, gentle approach.
As expected he was unsettled when he moved to us and went backwards with some aspects of his confidence. None was more noticeable than in the field. Tommy was always more confident in the stable at the Blue Cross and this carried through when we got him home. I used this to continue his learning with removing and putting on a headcollar, brushing, having his feet picked out and even a rug on. He has made HUGE leaps with this :)
Unfortunately, his confidence in the field has been much slower to recover and improve. Initially I kept his headcollar on at home too, but on wet days it began to rub, so I had to take it off. I am lucky because I don’t need to catch him to get him in. He quickly learnt that (in the summer) he came into the stable in the morning for a snack, rest and some hay by following Chesney and Basil in. This meant that we could continue with building confidence in the stable with no worries. Getting up to Tommy in the field was much more difficult. That has taken a long time, sometimes I could get him to eat a quarter of apple out of my outstretched hand, sometimes I couldn’t even get that close. I could not get close enough to touch him at all.
Once I changed them to being in at night and out in the day (for the winter) he again learnt that by following the others in he had a little feed. I gradually found that I could get closer to him in the field without him running away. Initially, even if I went to catch Basil or check the fence, if I got within a certain distance he would trot off. He then progressed to just walking off and I could get closer and closer without him moving away – but I still couldn’t touch him. Since Christmas I have fenced him in a separate and smaller area (to try to limit his grass) which has allowed me to work on this more. It was not that long before I managed to get up to him with an apple and stroke his nose, then I could touch his neck and shoulder. This meant that if he had a headcollar on I could catch him, so I started leaving it on again. Unfortunately, Tommy then learnt how to get that off in the field.
This left me with a new challenge. However, he is in the routine of coming to the gate in the evenings with the others (but in his separate section). So, if I get Chesney and Basil in first he is quite desperate to come for his food too. I have been using this, with an apple, to get close to him – see my video.
Since, I filmed this last week I have managed to get the headcollar on him too :) He feels more confident close up by the stables so I don’t think I would be able to do this down the field YET but it is progress – which I am really proud of.
Have a look at the video of Tommy yesterday 'Catching Tommy' on my You Tube channel.
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Until next time!