Forgetting the past while forging a new trail
This is Francis. Her name came from the old TV series called Francis the Talking Mule. Our Francis lives up to her name...
I had just started my horse training job for a therapy center when Francis came to live here. My bosses had been in charge of taking care of the horses and expanding the herd when horses needed rescued or a new home. Well needless to say my bosses saw an add for a mule and went to go see her. They said she was a little robotic on lead, but the guy rode her and show them everything they wanted to see... ugh
What my bosses had not know is what to look for when buying a horse. I know for a fact that the man they bought her from had been a horse trader that drugged all his horses before people came to see them. I showed up for work that week and realized we had a new horse in one of our pens. I asked about it because she didn't look like a normal foster horse that we hold from time to time, but that is when I got the news that she was my new project.
I had yet to really scope her out, but my main concern was trying to get her adjusted to her new home. I said Hi through the fence and she didn't want anything to do with me. I wasn't expecting much, but my bosses had talked this mule up and I was expecting a gosh darn unicorn covered in rainbows and happiness.
The next day my bosses told me that we had a big problem on our hands. I went back to work(on my day off) and showed up to see Francis just eating hay in her pen. I asked what was wrong and my bosses told me that Francis wouldn't let anyone get near her. That is when the questions came up about who she was sold from and all that jazz.
At that point I knew she was going to be a huge handful. We needed to clean out the pen and to move Francis to another pen, but she was miss butt and everywhere I went her butt followed. I saw from the moment I walked in she was terrified, everything in her body language was telling me that she wanted nothing to do with me or the halter in my hand.
Having her butt face me that whole time got my nerves going (which didn't make things better), but she wasn't kicking, she was just trying to be intimidating and scare me off. I took my time and backed off while talking to her and being as calm as I could be. It took me and hour and a half and 2 kicks to get a halter on her. From that point on I didn't like her and she didn't like me.
With everything about the idea of Francis being friendly and such changing one thing didn't, she LOVED food! Every time breakfast or dinner came along there was Francis by her feed bowl "yelling" at me to feed her. With that in mind I knew it would be the tool to help me get her use to people. Every time feeding time came I put a halter lead rope on her neck, she didn't want it on, but the only way she would get her food was if it was only. Slowly but surly she let me put a halter on, then let me lead her.
She has a ways to go, but so do I. She is teaching me new things everyday. We are growing together and as much as we don't like each other, we are each others only hope of getting better. Because of that time Francis kicked me I have been scared of her butt. I know she won't kick, but every time she picks up on my nerves her butt goes to me. I am getting better and more relaxed and so is she. Francis has now started to open up and even today she let me touch her legs all the way do to her hoofs, which has been impossible to do.
I'm not expecting anyone to follow this or anything, I just want to keep this for myself. I am happy to keep this up and to continue to work on her. She will be something else once we get over whatever happened to her in the past. Only a bright future is ahead for the both of us :)
Today was a huge step forward. Today during dinner I decided to measure my herd with the weight tape. Francis has never liked the tape so we have never been able to get her measured, but today we did. :D
I just go around during dinner time and measure weight and height without a halter or lead rope, but I knew for Francis it would be needed. She let me put the halter on with only a tad hesitation and she was super good the whole time. She didn't like the tape when it was stretched out, but she got use to it and even let me measure her. I was so proud of her!
Being able to measure sounds like a simple thing, but Francis(being a mule) always seems to make things more complicated then they actually are lol She has been quite lovely these past few days and it looks like I might be taking her into the round pen and working with her on ground games soon, but I'm not going to rush it.
You're making progress!
I'm following! Looking forward to hearing more!
Today was another great day! :D
I really really really have been wanting to get Francis in the round pen and start working with her, but at the same time I really don't want to rush it. The past week as been great so far and I don't want to rush it so much that she freaks and we have to start from square one today.
So today I wanted to get her ready for being used in the round pen, but I had no idea how to do that. I thought about it a little and decided to play my ear... maybe not the best way, but I was able to watch her and see her reaction to everything.
I started out by putting the halter on her again and then brushed her. She is so cautious about my hands, but I learned that if I'm brushing her she enjoys the brush and my hand isn't as intimidating. We have only groomed her once or twice so just brushing her was a nice step for her.
The more I brushed the more I noticed she liked it and better yet she liked me doing it. lol After I was done she got a treat like always and I was about to be done when I noticed that she was super calm with me. Brushing had put both if us in a good mood so I decided to jump at the chance of doing something now that both of us are calm.
I still had her on the halter so I led her out of the pasture and over by the round pen. Because of all the rain we have a ton of fresh grass so I decided I was going let her graze on the halter right next to the round pen. At first she didn't want to graze with just me standing there holding on to her, but her love of food won over and she started grazing.
I then started by leading her around a tad bit to see how she would respond and then I let her graze. We did that for about 20 minutes and then I put her back in her pasture. I think this week I will keep doing this to get her use to the area and slowly but surly bring her into the round pen.
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I didn't mean to do that anyways. This week it's been short due to me being super busy, but I didn't wanna put francis on the back burner so I made sure that each day we got just a little bit of time together. Because she is overweight I've been really wanting to focus on her losing weight andl using more affection then treats or food. With that are our main focus she's accepted it very very well. She sill wants food more, but has been enjoying being loved on a little bit more and more each day. I am super excited to see her being more accepting to love send food
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