I turned him out in the field and off he went to settle into the herd. The next day, he wasn’t going to be caught. So I spent 2 hours in the field negotiating closing the gap between him and myself until he gave me permission to approach. Then I gave him a carrot and departed so he could ponder that.
The next day I could see he was thinking….ok she has carrots….maybe lets her check out. So no fuss….he allowed me into his space, to touch him, pop a head collar on and give him carrots. I could see some degree of scepticism in his eyes. So I didn’t do anything other than make a huge fuss of him, finding his sweet spots where he liked to be scratched and let him leave when he was ready, which was a considerable time he loved sweet spot scratches.
Day three he walked over to check me out, here is the lady who does excellent sweet spot scratches and has carrots. He was relaxed in my company and not at all bothered. Again I let him leave when he was ready.
Day four he came trotting over to see me and presented his favourite spot to be scratched…..his bottom! So I could tell he wasn’t scared of me, so it was more to do with what he associated interactions would be after he was caught. I could see it wasn’t about being beaten, as touch didn’t induce any flicker of fear or anxiety. So it was something else.
I remember how he was foot perfect, so compliant when we viewed him. It led me to think he switched into a learnt helplessness state. He hadn’t been allowed to express an opinion so he just gave in and did exactly as requested.
So that first day at his new home, in the field was the only place he could feel safe to express himself. I knew as he realised we would allow him to have an opinion we would be in for some interesting conversations. And for sure we did have interesting conversations.
I learnt from Moss that the previous approach he experienced the joy had been sucked out interacting with humans, prior training had been serious and drilling. Once he realised this wasn’t our approach we discovered Moss had a high play drive, and a high level of curiosity to learn.
Photo - Left Moss, Centre in the background Merlot. Right Guinness.