Had a rather ramshackle session this afternoon with Ringo. I got out my old target stick to try to work just on Ears Forward but the big donkey insisted on biting it whenever it appeared. I'd make it vanish when he craned his neck and his big teeth towards it, but he was in a fractious mood. This time I was in the paddock with him (no fence between us) and when he pawed, I asked him to back up.
We did some targeting - me placing the target stick on either side of his flank, between his legs, under his chin in an attempt to get him to arch his neck. This stuff is elementary for him and I wanted to do it to help him feel secure.
We did some mat work and going between the mat and the cone - a loop that we've worked on before and finally ended with picking his hooves while he stood on the mat. Not a great session though as I felt his mood was unpleasant.
Tonight I went in the barn and stood on the other side of his stall. When he put his ears forward (and finally he did!) I threw him some hay. It worked (thank you Alexandra!) and we did it a few times.
As I was cleaning and filling water buckets, I remembered something! It was last Fall that I was also having problems with Ringo and felt discouraged ... aha! I even asked a friend if she might consider taking him in the Spring if I felt I still couldn't manage him. A few months later, I felt SO glad that I had stuck by him.
So ... seasonal disorder? Why is Ringo grumpy and pushy in the Fall? Changing light, longer nights?
Parasites on the move? Hmmm... I will definitely have to give this some thought!