We brought our 2 remaining horses home from their winter pasture a couple days ago. It's odd only having 2 horses now. First time in a while we've been able to feed just 1 forty pound bale in the morning.
But getting them up here took a little planing.
Alloy the Mustang decided about the time Ranger was put down that he had become a wild horse again. No touching required, or allowed. At least if the "toucher" was carrying a rope or halter.
I ended up doing some basic "target" training with him out in the field over the winter. Touch the halter, get a treat. Finding a treat that was worth touching the halter took a couple of trips. Apple slices? Not worth the danger approaching the halter put him in. Carrot slices? Close, but no. Dried pancakes? Waffles? Bread crusts? Nope-nope-nope. Crackers? OH hell YEAH! Saltines! Butter Crisp! And best of all, Ritz!
Bump the halter, get a cracker. What a great way to get your salt. None of this licking the block stuff, you just get to eat it!
After a couple of weekly trips down the mountain, he would not run away when I walked up with a halter in my hand. Of course, there was NO WAY IN HELL he was going to let me drape the rope over his neck, much less stick his nose in that bear trap device. You aren't a wild horse any more when you wear one of those things. It would be embarrassing when you are "back to the wild" like Big Al figured he had gotten. So he would touch it, but it was "head for the hills!" when I looked like I was going to touch HIM with it.
Now, every day that Al and I were doing the vending machine dance, Juanita and Washoe were walking around, Washoe in lead rope and halter, with him getting brushed, groomed, eating all sorts of treats, and just generally hanging out. The other half dozen horses in the field would try to nose in on Washoe and Alloy to try to get in on this snack action.
It was...difficult... to keep Al's attention with all the activity going on around him.
Moving day finally came, but we had a plan. We set up some panels to make a catch pen in one corner of the field. We would drive Alloy into the pen, and then we could halter him.
Moving that horse without a lead is like herding cats. Only the cat can run 30 MPH and weighs a half ton.
So I caught his girlfriend, Terri, and led her to the catch pen. He tried his best to block our progress by standing sideways in front of us to block our path. As we bulled past him, he would move in front of us to block us again. FOR A QUARTER MILE.
When we got Terri and Al into the catch pen, we suddenly realized why Al (and Washoe for that matter) did not want to leave. Of the 6 other horses in the field with them, it looked like 4 were mares in season. And although our 2 horses have been gelded, they seem to recall there was something.......
We got the horses except for Al and Washoe out of the pen, and I dropped the loop of a rope around Al's neck. He went nuts for about 5 seconds, pulling and rearing, and then he got over it. Just like that his eyes went soft and Juanita put the halter on him. Then we loaded both horses into the trailer and came home. No problem.
Washoe and Al unloaded just fine and we let them go in our pen. They seemed mostly glad to be home, but both continued wailing for a couple hours...
"Ladies! Where are you!?!"