Well, every day offers new surprises.
Lately, it seems that every time I see Sante, we have "the best day ever".
Its like as though a few weeks ago, he had a major "lick & chew". Something changed in him... 18 months of friendly game, 18 months of confidence building, rewarding the slighest try, and not reacting when he accidently trod on my feet has paid off.
Today, he let me approach him while he lay down.
I was contemplating going into the padock with a camera "just in case", but decided not to, because i wanted him to trust me, and I didn't want to be preoccupied with the camera, so i left it in the car.
I found Sante lying down (not flat out, but "sitting up"), and was quick to try to get out of his line of vision. About 20 metres out, I had a very serious talk to myself - In that I should NOT be sneaking up on my horse, he should be trust me enough to allow me to approach while he is lying down, and I should not resort to sneaking up on him. After giving myself an upper cut, I called out to him. (he already had his ears pricked, he knew SOMEONE was back there), I walked over to him (not sneaking but not direct line either). And i was just praying "Stay down, please oh please oh please stay down"
And, well.. he did!!!!! I was beside myself - I was giggling like a kid in a candy store. He didn't even try to get up, he just... let me approach! I just continued talking to him, about mindless rubbish but i was laughing and couldn't beleive that he had finally let go of that insecurity.
I knelt down in the mud (it has been raining) and scratched him behind the ears, on the neck, down his nose, everywhere, rubbing him and telling him how happy I was to see him. I was careful to move consideratly around him, he let me move around him, rubbing him on the back, on the side, I fished treats out of my pockets, and he thought that all his christmas' had come at once.
After about 5-10 minutes he was still down, and i was quite happy to sit like this all day! But he shifted his weight, and i got the impression he wanted to lie flat out.. so I moved around to where his legs were - and to my absolute wonderful shock, he lay down completely - with a long deep groan. I crouched down in between his outstretched legs and rubbed his feet, up his legs, just laughing (trying so hard to contain my excitement), and talking to him.
All the while he was groaning, every time he exhaled he groaned, imagine you've worked a 12 hour shift on your feet all day, and your sitting down for the first time, beer in hand - it was that kind of groan! He rubbed his face on the ground, and contemplated dozing off. He let me rub him on the stomach, and then decided that it was time to get up. He got up slow enough to enable me to get out of his way, and after some time, we left the paddock at liberty, not before he had found a stick to pick up and show me that he was clever!
I was gobsmacked - floored - so freaking happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We had such a great day after that! We did a little "stick to me" in the grass arena, and then I decided to see whether he really understood the "pick it up" command. I walked him over to a stick and asked him to "pick it up" At first, he did nothing, so I gently smooched at him, and tapped my CS near the stick asking him again to "pick it up".
He did!! He did!!!
He has changed in the last few weeks. Our bond has deepened, he trusts me with so much - He has just offered me everything in the last few weeks - What we had in the paddock today has always been my dream of horsemanship. Everytime I thought about owning a horse, I imagined myself sitting in a paddock next to my horse, by my side - complete trust. And today, we began to acheive it.
This journey rocks :)
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