This observational story of returned behaviors occurred in Feb 2019.
As someone who uses behavior modification strategies and tools as part of how I educate horses and humans, watching these behaviors return after 2+ years is fascinating to me!
It means another layer has been peeled away, leaving a cleaner energetic and vibrational 'state' for creating and influencing behaviors.
I was away for 11 days. I have not been gone from home and the horses for that length of time in about 4+ years!
A particular behavior with Rhett I believed had faded/extinguished itself, reappeared my first morning home.
When I return from my regular 3-5 day trips, Rhett can sometimes act a bit 'miffed' upon my return for about a day.
Don't want to anthropomorphize too much here but he will seemingly do his best to ignore me until he feels he's punished me enough for being away. But usually, when he hears me open the treat container, it snaps him right out of his miffed-ness!
My first morning at the barn for breakfast found him uncharacteristically clingy, velcro like. As I moved about doing my chores, there he was over and over.
My neighbor heard me at the barn and popped up to visit with her labradoodle. Lucas is fascinated by the horses especially Rhett, and this morning, it seemed Rhett was a bit fascinated with him.
I was standing by the gate talking with her when Rhett came over and took the shoulder area of my sweatshirt in his mouth, something he hasn't done like this in about 4 years.
He just held it. If I slightly pulled away, he would pull me back. He also did the same on the lower arm/wrist sleeve area.
He went back and forth between the sleeve and shoulder.
When I was really engaged in conversation with my neighbor, he would gently pull me towards the barn.
A couple of times, she asked what he was doing? The words that came pouring forth from Rhett was 'you left me and now you're doing it again'.
I told her it felt like he was trying to remove me from our conversation and initiate a conversation between he and I since I'd been away for a bit.
After my neighbor left, I finished my morning routine, by giving them their pittance of yummy timothy hay. By the time I opened the arena, they were there, ready to come in.
An impromptu session was initiated by Rhett in the arena with the gate open. The other horses were in the arena also but not interested in engaging. It lasted about 35 minutes using no treats.
This blog is video heavy, with extremely interesting observations, beginning with 'one behavior morphing into several behaviors vs the stress and stressors causing the behaviors and the viewpoints from both horse and human.
This is a LONG, fascinating 14 minutes of video. showing some behaviors that had, for the most part, faded or seemingly extinguished themselves. I do lots of analysing outloud what I think I am seeing.
Some behaviors had returned. It's incredible to observe these behaviors, barely noticeable at first, grow in strength the longer we were in each other's presence.
I became aware of the nuances of the returning patterns from the duration of time staying in the environment that is causing the stressed behaviors.
After the above 14 min video of the returned stressors increasing in intensity and length, including the mounting block, I decided to remove myself from the environment to see if I was the cause of the stress.
Here is a 7 minute video of little to minimal movement while still processing after I left the arena for about 5 minutes. I was using strongly reinforced 'cues' to no avail to try and engage him.
After nearly 15 min of processing without me in the area, I returned to arena. Almost immediately we had some beautiful moments of Rhett initiating the movement. Here is a 2 min video.
However, Rhett was still processing the sessions that involved lots of oral stimulation, so playing with the chain on the gate is interesting.
The shirt holding was back and with more duration. While holding my shirt, he was nickering that soft, barely audible, whicker.
He would release my shirt and a couple of times, he turned his tongue upside down in his mouth, something I have not seen him do in over 2 years.