When we first got Kahlua, it was really hard for me to work with her. I liked it, but there was also always this sense of dread whenever I needed to work with her. I ended up putting a lot of pressure on myself and it just wasn’t working.
So I backed up for a while. Didn’t work with her at all aside from feeding, mucking, and treats. And honestly, I think it’s been the right choice for me, but actually for Kahlua too. She’s been with us almost a year now, but through our daily routines she’s super willing to come up to us now. She is so delicate taking treats tho – it’s legit the cutest thing haha.
Perhaps two weeks ago, we noticed her right eye was kinda weepy and the flies were really bothering it. We can’t put a fly mask on her yet (she’s totally not broke to that) so we just monitored it. Almost overnight on the second day it just expanded into this huge sore below her eye. She was rubbing it on everything, and taking the skin off her knees even from how much she was itching. We had the vet out as soon as we could get him (thankfully she was considered an emergency), and dosed her with wormer and copious amounts of swat on her eye. Even just by the next day, it looked ten times better.
But, we still had to apply swat and meds to it. She still wouldn’t let us approach to touch her, and she definitely wouldn’t let us near with a halter, so we had to rig one of our panels as like a chute for her. It worked for the first….3 or so times schooching her in there. And then she’d just stand there in one of the corners and stare at us with a distinct “I am not going in there” look about her.
Has anyone ever mentioned how smart burros are? Well, they’re smart. And she was not going in there, no-sir-ee. Even after tapping her on the butt with a lead rope. Nope. She’d just stand there with a leg cocked and let us lightly tap her. She knew we weren’t going to hurt her, and she’d just look at us like “No thanks. I don’t want to” with those big brown eyes.
Well. Hurray that the panel is not connected to any part of her run, so we can move it wherever. I’d have to coax her a bit but we’d get her in her fav corner and move the panel. Her face when the panel moved was absolutely PRICELESS. I’m not kidding, her ears drooped LOL. We only had to move the panel twice more to different parts of her run before she realized there was no escaping her fate haha. She ended up being even better without the rope. Within a few days of her willingly moving towards the far corner, I now just point with my left hand, gently move my right, and cluck to her. She knows exactly what this means now, and just calmly walks over. I even managed to get her over there with treats and following me, so she’s coming around really quickly.
We’ve been haltering her, putting medicine on her, grooming her, and she’s been a champ through it all. I think this time that we’ve just been letting her be, giving her treats has let her settle really well. She knows we won’t hurt her, and through lots of slow, methodical work she’s letting us do so much with her. We still need the panel to apply meds to her face, but where we once had to squeeze her in she just stands relaxed. She’ll even look at us now, sniff my hands, let me scratch her face. And that sore is practically all healed now, which is a relief.
We give her plenty of carrots and apples and grain immediately after we’re done, and she comes right up to us again because she knows the treats are the best part! I swear she won’t even eat her dinner (and it’s alfalfa!) until we’re done because she knows all the treats are coming haha!
A few weeks ago, we had a TIP trainer local to Vegas that we called to come out an help us. While she’s doing well with us, we know nothing about gentling a wild burro, and I know from working with her that while her mentality is similar to horses, it’s the wild factor that’s stumping us. But the local guy is great, and you can tell he really loves working with horses and burros. A lot of what he explained what he does with them makes a lot of sense to me, and I really enjoy that he uses so many aspects of their wild life/nature to gentle them.
We’ve had him come out weekly so far, and after only 2 appointments Kahlua has come leaps and bounds! We’re able to touch her and pet her now, and my mom has been putting in amazing work with her. She can brush her, put medicine on her knee, touch her nearly all over (tho left side only for now) – all without the chute! She still won’t let my mom get meds on her face without the chute, but with how she’s coming, we know it’ll only be a little while before we can do that. In the chute I’ve practiced haltering her, and she’s a pro at it now! It’s certainly helped with the free work that we’ve been doing.
So far, she lets my mom do the most with her, but since I am back to full-time, in-office work again right as I started another IT class I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would’ve liked to get Kahlua comfortable with me. But, she lets me walk up and pet her just fine, so I’m okay with that for now! She’s come such a long way in just three short weeks, so I can’t wait to see how much further we’ll be able to get in a few more!