No, we didn't learn to rope cows!
Boomer is, however, in roping boot camp. Since his minor escape followed by eye rolling and trumpet snorting at the dragging lead rope I have decided to work on this little 'fear'. So, everyday he is going out into the small paddock (maybe 100x200) with his halter and lead attached. When he walks calmly or stands relaxed he gets a carrot bite. Tuesday was the first day of the experiment and he did pretty well. Mostly he just stood still- he didn't want to make the rope move. He would sometimes walk to trot, but he was more focused on the rope than anything else while he was moving. He discovered quickly that moving in a circle around the rope made the rope hold still. No panic moments or anything too exciting. We spent about 15 minutes working on this and it seemed like a good start.
Before the great lead rope experiment, I worked on standing nicely and a little clicker-ing for 'head down'.
I decided to put him out on the hitching post instead of the cross ties. I just draped his rope over the rail and got started grooming. I would stop occasionally and work on him lowering his head for a click/treat. He seemed to catch on quickly. It didn't take long for him to lower his head to the ground for the c/t. I'm not sure he quite saw the point, but he did it for the carrots. When I was grooming him he kept trying to reach down and graze. I just gently put him back where I wanted and went back to grooming. I had to readjust him 6-8 times before he held still, but after that he was a gentleman. Unfortunately, I still don't trust him to stand tied or stay in the cross ties, so I feel a bit like a babysitter. I have to have all of my gear with me before we get started and I can't walk off and leave him.
Though, in full disclosure, I think that much of this is my fear more than his behavior. He hasn't pulled back in almost a year and he has only had 2 'girthy/cross tie' episodes ever.
My Be-Good halter is in the trailer and I am thinking of getting that out and starting to actually tie him at the hitching post. However, I want to focus on ground tying/standing nicely first. So, most of the time I want to have him 'loose' and be able to get him to understand the concept of wanting to stand nicely. I also want to work a lot more on giving to pressure. Then hopefully being tied will not feel as much like a trap to him.