I'm getting very positive feedback from Heidi's owner about the change in her behaviour already, despite horrendous weather conditions today which would usually have made her very difficult to lead. I'm a bit surprised that she's improving so quickly but my main focus has been on changing her attitude towards people and making interacting with me easy and fun for her, and it seems to be working.
After spending another evening repeating the games we played in the first session I went back to targeting last night with unqualified success. Heidi enthusiastically sniffed and then mouthed the target every time and her eye (I did put 'eyes' to begin with!) lit up every time she heard the click so she's definitely worked out what it means.
In the stable I got her to follow me forward and backwards following the target, turn her head right around to her girth area to touch it, touch it when I held it between her front legs and when I dropped it on the floor. On her blind side I rattled it gently (I'm using a large pink and yellow plastic dog bone which rattles slightly for some reason) and she did seem to follow the noise to touch it - either that or the smell, or both. In any case it wasn't too much of a problem.
Tonight I let her out loose in the yard and we played the same games there. She concentrated really well and never left me, even with other people coming and going and horses watching over doors. I make a point, as well as giving her each treat away from my body, with her head straight in front of her, of offering it fairly low down and with her head in an 'on the bit' position, to encourage good posture and a confident yet submissive stance.
So far Heidi has been a little star and couldn't be more co-operative or sensible. Her owner says she is more polite and she feels safer around her already, which is brilliant!
One interesting and rather poignant observation I've made is that she often seems to try and 'look' at the target with her empty eye socket. I'm told that she does this with lots of things. Considering she's been without that eye for at least the last two and a half years I guess it just goes to prove that old habits really do die hard!
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