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Gus the feral Shetland Pony

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  • #21
    Please keep us all updated on his progress. I've read that five 10-minute training sessions a day as opposed to one 50-minute training session a day is actually more effective.

    The fact that he didn't have a name is terribly sad.
    PA Hi-Ly Visible [PA Hi-Noon (by Magnum Psyche) x Takara Padrona (by *Padron)]

    Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

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    • #22
      I'm sorry, I can give you no advice but just wanted to give you a big "thumbs up" for getting him and holy cow, he's awfully cute!

      Comment


      • #23
        I don't have any advice...but he sure is cute! Many years ago, DH and I were driving the backroads of Western Kansas taking a long way trip back to Denver
        from Wichita when we came across a rocky, hilly area full of Shetlands and their foals. Course, we had to stop and get out, go up to the fence. They all looked at us like we were aliens but did not seem too afraid. The foals would just stare and
        stare. Must of been hundreds of them on the property.

        Comment


        • #24
          Gus - the little stinker ...that sounds so affectionate!
          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

          Comment


          • #25
            A book, blanket to sit on, and a bunch of carrots in your lap, and some grain in a shallow pan beside you, and time.

            Comment


            • #26
              He's very cute.

              You deserve a pat on the back for saving him from auction.

              I have no advice as I never had a pony. People told my parents not to get me a pony because ponies are bad! So I've always had horses. But I think you are going to have a nice pony once he learns to trust you.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #27
                I really appreciate all the kudos. I think I was just in the right position at the right time. I don't think there are very many horse people that could have resisted a cute pony and you guys would have snatched him up, too.

                I have thought about this some more and I think one regular long round pen session would be way too much for him. Many short sessions may work much better. I will continue to be present in his world without doing anything (sitting on a bucket and offering him treats when he comes up). He can see the active version of me and the peaceful one as well. I might take our son in there with me and read him stories. We did that with a scared cow to get her used to our voices.

                What fascinates me is that I get the feeling that he wants to be near me. But he doesn't know how to. The round pen thing will help him, I think. He has to think I can control him but get used to the idea over time and not be afraid of it. He has been chased so much that he runs easily. He has to realize it won't work to run away but he is safe. That is where I am going with this. It's hard to explain, but just feeding him treats won't work over the long term because he is setting the terms in a game he has played his whole life.

                When I first bought my green Arabian cross mare, she needed round penning for similar reasons (but less fear). Phoenix, our AQHA gelding, panicked when you entered his stall but had been round penned improperly so I found another way with him.
                “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                St. Padre Pio

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                • #28
                  My God he is cute!!! No advice but kudos to you. He'll be fine.
                  What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    I think you're on the right track with everything you're doing! It takes time, but you sound like you are more than willing to give him that!
                    I can't wait to hear how he progresses!!!

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      He's beyond adorable --- and I think he's going to turn out to be a great pony.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I took in an unhandled pony last summer who could not be caught. Same as your guy, prior home wrestled her into a halter and it stayed on. They'd catch her every 4-6 months or so for the farrier by cornering her and grabbing at the halter. So I got a seriously headshy pony who trembled if you even moved your hands near her. I sh add that she was not abused-- they were very kind people, just no horse experience.

                        I disagree with the others that training should only be in short little sessions when it comes to teaching him to stand and be caught. Unless he is caught at the end of your session, I feel you have only reinforced his conviction that if he just runs away from you often enough, you'll give up. Your idea of a small success-- for example, maybe he let you get a little bit closer this time before running off-- is not the learning moment for him that you think it is. JMHO.
                        There are lots of threads on teaching to be caught so I won't type a novel here on how to do it (the short version: calmly walk or trot him down until he relents). But bottom line, she learned that every single time I approached her to be caught, she ended up being caught, so it was her decision on how much energy she wanted to spend in the meantime. For Scarlett, in the roundpen generally that never took more than 30 minutes in the very beginning, 2-3 minutes after a week, and after 2 wks she stood like a rock. Not fully relaxed about it, but she knew her job was to stand still. In the beginning, all I did was slide a leadrope around her neck, pet her a while, some treats, and release. I added moving my hands around her face, under her chin, petting all over her body etc-- the stuff I'd have to do when haltering. Once she was reliable with that, the lessons progressed to catching AND haltering. Again, this was in a 2 week timespan in the roundpen, didn't take long. I did this once a day during the week, and a few times a day on the weekends at scattered times. Since your guy leads well, I bet you'll have a similar timeline.
                        Once turned out in the big fields, she of course regressed, but again, if I set out to catch her, that training session did not end until she stood. She went back to 20-30 minutes a couple times, and once, on a windy day when she was very "up" it took well over an hour. She was blowing hard-- not that I ever asked her to trot or canter, I just walked her down. She chose that course. After that one, it was really fixed, I never had a problem again.

                        Oops I typed a novel anyway, sorry. Anyway I totally agree with breaking down the more complex tasks into baby steps, so that your training sessions are shorter and you can end with a success. But allowing himself to be caught in the field is one discrete thing that I don't think can be broken down. If you end without catching him, you've taught him the wrong thing.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Good for you for giving this little guy a home!

                          Here's a great website for clicker-training techniques:
                          on-target-training.com

                          Lots of good info absolutely free - or can order video for $ right to your computer if you want. If you have the chance to attend one of Shawna's clinics, definitely go. I don't know where in the SE US you are, but she comes to Southern Pines regularly. If you want to PM me I'll see if there's one coming up soon.

                          Good luck with him - he's adorable!
                          I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Hey, we are talking PONY....

                            I ma sure the little guy is clever enough to figure out which side of the bread is lathered with honey!
                            Should not take him any time at all. For now he is probably just confused that his hasty escape did not land him in a worse place, but high cotton!

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              You could clip a little piece of rope on his halter, like on foal halters, so when you get a chance you can hold him? I'm quite sure it would be a rare pony that did not eventually come around to liking being with his caregiver who feeds him.
                              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                Thank you, everyone, for your ideas.

                                HH, thank you for taking the time to explain. I will see if short sessions make progress or not. If not, I will have to arrange for some long ones and hope the weather cooperates.
                                “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                                St. Padre Pio

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Just want to clarify that I didn't *plan* on long attempts to teach being caught. Once we had success, we'd call it a day. So I wouldn't normally work her for an hour straight, but at the same time I only went out to work with her when I knew I could commit the time and patience! to let her figure it out.

                                  As she got better, "success" did escalate--starting from catch+leadrope on neck, catch+haltering, catch+leading lesson, and so on. Anyway, whatever that goal was, lots of times it ended up being a nice little 20 minute session. I guess my point is that Catch part is not negotiable--if it took 30, 45 minutes, then I'd continue for as long as it took. (and on a difficult day like that, scale back the goal to just that--no sense pushing forward with something else). And it was only a couple of times that it was difficult.

                                  Ponies are smart treat-hounds and he'll figure it out quickly.

                                  BTW I'm all for just hanging around them, too. I'd pick manure, futz around, sit in the pen and talk, etc. But I did not walk directly up to her unless I was prepared to follow through with a catch lesson if she moved off.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by microbovine View Post
                                    I really appreciate all the kudos. I think I was just in the right position at the right time. I don't think there are very many horse people that could have resisted a cute pony and you guys would have snatched him up, too.

                                    I have thought about this some more and I think one regular long round pen session would be way too much for him. Many short sessions may work much better. I will continue to be present in his world without doing anything (sitting on a bucket and offering him treats when he comes up). He can see the active version of me and the peaceful one as well. I might take our son in there with me and read him stories. We did that with a scared cow to get her used to our voices.

                                    What fascinates me is that I get the feeling that he wants to be near me. But he doesn't know how to. The round pen thing will help him, I think. He has to think I can control him but get used to the idea over time and not be afraid of it. He has been chased so much that he runs easily. He has to realize it won't work to run away but he is safe. That is where I am going with this. It's hard to explain, but just feeding him treats won't work over the long term because he is setting the terms in a game he has played his whole life.

                                    When I first bought my green Arabian cross mare, she needed round penning for similar reasons (but less fear). Phoenix, our AQHA gelding, panicked when you entered his stall but had been round penned improperly so I found another way with him.
                                    I am a big John Lyons fan so I agree that short frequent round pen lessons will do the best in getting him to trust you. I have never been a person to give treats, but I do usually give my horses & mule a handful of oats when they come to me (when I call) to be haltered. This means that they 99% of the time come before I even call.

                                    If he went up into your trailer and you could lead him, then he has been handled quite a bit in his past. It may have been a long time ago, with who knows what in between but time, patience, kindness and consistent training will pay off. He looks like a little stinker, who will be full of mischief :-)

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      We had a very abused and scared pony we resuced from the Amish a number of years ago....I was probably 10 at the time but from what I remember he was very hard to catch. We put a leather halter on him with a small leadrope attached to the end, cut to about 18". It worked perfect because reaching for his halter would often make him fly back in fear. We also kept him in a round pen until we both had a mutual trust that we, weren't going to hurt him, and he, wouldn't run off when we caught him.
                                      He was very treat driven so he responded well to a mint wrapper.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        You didn't say where your donkey is right now... is he close enough that he and the pony see each other and the pony accepts the donkey being nearby? If so, something I would do in addition to spending time with the pony in the round pen is work with the donkey outside of the round pen, in a place where the pony can watch. I'm just talking about brushing the donkey, cleaning the donkeys feet, hand grazing him, leading him around, etc.

                                        I had the opposite situation than you - had a great horse needing a companion and ended up with a semi-feral donkey for that job. I believe that the donkey seeing how I always interacted kindly with the horse (while still being in charge) and how the horse trusts me actually gave the donk some confidence to trust me too... plus in my case a lot of very soft talking to the donkey and some soft singing while I was around him seemed to calm him. Good luck, he is the cutest thing!
                                        It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.

                                        Comment

                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          Gotmypony, donkeys can actually learn by watching, so that was a very good technique that you used.

                                          I'm not sure ponies can, but we do have a hitching post within sight of the pony but still far enough away to not violate the quarantine. Good idea.
                                          “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                                          St. Padre Pio

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