I think I’m on the right track. Why do I think this? Because PJ started pawing his door and reaching his neck out as far as it would go when he saw me and I didn’t immediately say “hi” to him. He hasn’t looked for me in a couple of weeks now. He hasn’t been running away when I’ve come to get him, just stayed to the back of his stall unless I had treats. The latter behavior tells me he’s not happy to see me (and by extension the work we were going to do), and the former tells me he’s liking the new interaction.
I watched a video at this site before going to the barn: http://on-target-training.com/freetraining/video-1 . Shawna Karrash, the person who made the video, has worked at Sea World with whales. What I liked about her videos what that it showed WB horses who are in sport work (I think she rides dressage), so she understands what someone like me is looking for. Not just little backyard horses whose owners never ride them.
I did what she suggested. First I played the “don’t maul me for a treat” game, which taught PJ that if he just stands there or looks away, he gets a treat (small handful of pellets) and that trying to bite my hand does not give him a treat. Great for a mouthy horse like him! The second game I played was the “touch the target” game, with the whip top being the target. Towards the end, I could actually see PJ make a choice to touch the end of the whip instead of trying to get a treat out of my hand. He actually thought about it. So cool.
I’m going to keep this up and I’m going to keep going slowly. I will still have my normal lessons, but I will work on this in between.