The new pony arrived Saturday, delivered by her owner! Although her primary purpose is to serve as a companion to Pandora, she will also be exposed to my training program. That’s always true of every horse that comes to me so it’s right that I give you some history of Dottie, renamed Candy.
Her previous owner (PO) didn’t have time or inclination to really work her though Candy did learn how to pick up her feet, lead (though not in the manner that I expect from my horses), and tolerate a rider on her back. The PO had received her when her Other Owner (OO) was desperate to liquidate a pony herd. The PO had seen the OO herd and had said no, because many of the ponies were dwarves (probably an animal collector). However, the OO showed up at her place with a closed, cargo trailer filled with Dottie, two donkeys and some goats.
What I’ve been told is that Dottie (now Candy) is not affectionate towards humans and is hard to catch in the pasture. So the first thing I’ll be working on is for her to come to me when called.
I started Sunday using clicker training. The first step is to get her to approach me and sniff/touch the back of my hand (the “target”). This elicits a click followed by a small food treat (in this case a carrot). When I move away from her, I walk backwards, inviting her to follow and again, touch the hand.
The principle of following and touching a target can be used for many different training goals such as leading, loading into a trailer (although she loaded with no issue when given a food treat), lunging etc…
For now, I’ve been introducing her to the girls. While bringing a herd together can be dramatic and maybe even frightening we are taking it slow. Candy is up in a separate area when I cannot be there to monitor the herd interaction. She is also housed there overnight. The girls are able to eat together but separate, sharing hay laid out along a separate fenceline.
Today, I let her share time with Z and later with Pandora, but not all three together. Z did some spectacular cantering and bucking. Z is determined to keep Pandora and Candy apart in order to show ownership of both. Later, I let Z out to the yard, keeping Pandora and Candy together; Pandora took charge and moved her off the food bales and showed her that she boss.
I expect after a week, they’ll all be together, fulltime.