While I have yet to get an actual living, breathing 4-H’er over here, I’m pretending that I’m in 4-H! Who knows better how to get control of a calf than those kids?
I found directions for halter-breaking designed for 4-H’ers. Which read suspiciously exactly like the instructions you all have been giving me. Except in handy step by step manual-style as if you are 12.
Step 1: Start tying them to a post (or tree) to halter-break them to the idea that they can’t get away. Tie ’em short and tie ’em high.
Step 2: Brush them frequently to gentle them to your handling.
Step 3: After they have stopped trying to pull and tug when they are tied, start working with them in a small pen. Pull them to one side and to the other, tightening the lead as you pull then releasing it slightly when they come your way to reward them. More petting and brushing for further reward.
Step 4: Begin practicing in a larger enclosed area, starting, stopping, training the calf to be led. GET READY FOR THE SHOW!
Okay, I’m skipping the show.
I’m on Step 3. I’m practicing with Glory Bee when she is in the goat pen. I’m still tying her for periods during the day. I’m brushing her and scratching her. For the first time yesterday, I felt as if I saw real progress with her. She no longer tries to pull when she’s tied. She knows she can’t get away. She works well with me in the pen when I lead her one way then another. She likes to be brushed. (We got her halter adjusted yesterday, by the way, so it’s not so tight now.)
I’m still not ready to practice with her in a larger area (the goat yard) by myself, for fear she will yank away from me–and that’s a lesson I don’t want her to learn, that she is stronger than me. But, with Thanksgiving week upon me, I’ll have more people around here all day, so I’m planning to work with her again today in the pen, and starting tomorrow, use this week to practice in the goat yard with a second person holding on to a second lead on her collar for backup if I need it. I’m already taking her back and forth from the tree with backup.
She CAN be trained! She’s gonna be a good little giant cow someday. Or she’s gonna be HAMBURGER! WHICH DO YOU WANT TO BE, GLORY BEE?! That’s what I whisper to her. (Just kidding. Maybe. No, really, I love her.)