Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Having given up "training" Chloe, today I hit upon an alternative: I'm going to try and help Chloe to train me.
It's not that it's impossible to train Chloe. Chloe is very trainable; indeed I have won many arguments with her in the past. But I don't want to argue with her any more. If she thinks it's a bad idea, then it is.
She seems to like learning "tricks" though. Learning tricks was never compulsory, and maybe she enjoys the ability to elicit a result by producing a certain behavior. Pondering on this point, I thought - what if I react in the same way every time she does certain things, so that she can figure out ways to influence my behavior?
Today, when she nudged me with her head, I moved away from her in the direction of the nudge. I think she got it. Or maybe it was all my imagination. She seemed to herd me to the edge of the pasture and leave me there. She went off to graze nearby, every now and then coming back to make sure I was still in place and glaring daggers at the new filly to make sure she wasn't sneaking closer. She would come up to me, touch me oh-so-gently with her nose, casting her eyes suspiciously over her shoulder, ears suddenly flattening, toward where the filly was grazing.
Finally I got bored and went and stood with her for a while. She knew I was all out of treats, but she offered several times to "shake hands" - trying to communicate something? I didn't come up with a response I could offer, except to enthusiastically "shake" back - I'll have to think about what she might like me to do when she offers a foot - maybe I did the right thing - who knows? I hung out with her for a while longer, scratching her back as she grazed. When I left, she stayed where she was, in her favorite far-off corner of the pasture. When she saw me playing with the filly later in the distance, she didn't move.
I'm beginning to see that Chloe isn't nearly as negative about pony/human interaction as I'd thought. It's just very important for her that it happen on her terms. So we're doing everything at the far end of the pasture. Maybe she'll teach me some new tricks.