Cappi the Jack


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Cappuccino on the day he was born

7/20/01 Mocha foals!

I went out to feed the horses and donkeys in the morning before leaving for work. Mocha had chased Sam away with uncharacteristic aggression the night before, but I didnít think too much of it. Mocha wasnít hanging around the barnyard waiting for breakfast this morning. Looking over into the ďBirthing PenĒ, an all white foal was standing with Mocha. I donít know if it was just the ears, but my first impression was that he was huge. He was already dry and fairly steady on his feet, and there wasnít time for me to approach him before work. Arriving home from work, I walked out into the barnyard to find that Mocha had the baby in one of the box stalls for shade. It was easy to slip over and slide the door shut. This allowed me to carry some oats and bran in for Mocha. The new mama was interested enough in her food that I was able to touch, rub, and hold the baby. The first year we started having births on The CyberRanch was 1999, and Iíd hoped to name all those babies names starting with A. That didnít quite work out, but in 2000 the longhorn calves were Button, Bullseye, Bandita, and Bingo. With 2001 being a ĎCí year, Mochaís baby obviously had to be Cappuccino. That first day after work, I sure didnít do a full, formal Robert Miller DVM, type of imprinting, but I guess it was pretty darn close. I pretty much touched and rubbed him everywhere, including inside the mouth and ears. I worked equally on both sides with this desensitization, as equines donít easily transfer lessons from one side of their body to the other. Equines evolved a protective tendency to push back toward pressure. Big cats were the main predators of the evolving equines, and itís easy to imagine that if a cat sunk itís teeth or claws into your belly, pulling away rapidly and strongly would be the last thing one would want to happen. Much of the training of equines consists of training them to trust you enough to willingly ďgive to pressure.Ē Even in the body language of the herd, a dominant horse will physically move or restrain another. As I worked with Cappi, that day and afterwards, release of pressure was one of my main rewards. I lifted all four of his feet that day, but at first set them back down as soon as he stopped struggling against the lifting. If I were to accidentally loose grip when he was struggling, that release of pressure would reward his struggling behavior; obviously not the desired outcome. One last thing I did on that first day was to pick the baby up in my arms. Fortunately, it didnít take too many repetitions until he was no longer struggling as I held him up. Itís hoped that this will help the baby see me as a much larger and stronger force than him. Then I merely need to show him that that force is protective and that I am not a predator looking at him as prey.

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This page was created November 22, 2001

Updated November 22, 2001