Updated: Apr 17
A dear friend got in this beautiful mustang a few months ago and mentioned how she seemed like she was going to need lots of time with her before she could be adopted. I agreed and thought nothing more until I visited my friend again after a couple of months and saw the same mustang there. My friend said that this was the hardest mustang she has gotten in and helping this mare has been very slow. She is not really food motivated and this mustang's sense of self preservation is off the charts! As we talked and headed to the mustang again, the mustang immediately went further back in her paddock. I felt a drive in me to help this mare. My friend agreed to let me work with the mustang and said that the more people working with her the better!
For a good few days I thought over exactly how I would start working with this mare and the best way to get her trust. My friend does sit in her paddock and let her do what she wants, but I decided I was going to use reverse psychology!
My energy was going to be a silent loving presence that wants to be caught by the mustang. Yup you heard that right I want the mustang to catch me! I am so reversing it! I went in on my first day not wanting to catch her! Instead I wanted the mustang to find me curious and want to catch me!
So you may be asking well how did you do that?! How did it even go!? Well here is my act by act replay!
Alright so I got to the farm and said hi to some of her other horses. Look at this old man being so photogenic!
I then slowly wandered over to the mustangs paddock but I did not walk in a straight line and I did not have the front of me at any time facing the mustang. My head and eyes were always facing away from the mustang. Sometimes I would stop and look off into a field or at the other horses until I found a cement block that I could sit on. I placed it about 20 feet away from the paddock and sat on it with my back facing the mustang. I used my phone camera to see how the mustang reacted. Her ears were forward and seemed interested but man were the flies really bothering her! Sometimes she would pace or walk around mostly to get the flies to stop bothering her but she always came back to the fence to look at me.
After a few minutes I took out an apple with my back still towards her and ate some of it. In that time I heard some pacing. After a few minutes I got up and went in a zig zag pattern again to get closer. Always keeping the front of me, my eyes, and head away from her, always looking interested in something else, like a rock, a piece of wood, or a bug. At any point she moved towards the back of her paddock, I immediately turned around and headed to my block. I wanted her to think I was just as cautious as she was.
Eventually I was able to zig zag up to her gate and put a couple pieces of apple into a dish for her. She watched but then turned away so I turned away back to my block. After a few minutes back on my block I noticed she was not moving away from the font, so I slowly moved myself and the block closer to the paddock. I got to about 12 feet from the paddock, still with my back towards her.
Sometimes I got up from my block and wandered away from the mustang's area and other times I moved the side. After a few minutes I again slowly moved myself and the block back this time getting within 7 feet of the fence. She did not wander at all when I moved back and seemed to be looking at me more.
Again after a few minutes I moved myself all the way back so that the gate was right behind me. She moved away for a few seconds but came back. Her face was relaxed and if anything she was tired from dealing with the flies! This time I looked directly at her with my eyes and face and saw her chewing. I talked very quietly to her. She walked away for a few seconds but then came and stood right behind me. I heard some more chewing and then again her walking away. But this time she came right up to the gate and started to sniff me. I made some sniffing noises in return. She chewed. I gently put my hand near the gate for her to smell it and when she did she did the flehmen response! Aka a horsy smile! Again I put my hand, she sniffed, and smiled! Probably was the apply on my hands that smelled interesting to her but I took that as a win with her touching and sniffing me!
I ended the day there and am looking forward to the next time!