Trust is one of the most vital pieces to any relationship. This is true both in our human relationships as well as to the animals we have in our care. I wanted to discuss our process of earning trust with our animals and thought one of the best example is with our cows.
When we first met Madeline, she was timid, but approachable. She really does have the best demeanor, so earning her trust was not terribly difficult. It took only a few visits before she felt comfortable with with us approaching her, without food as a motivator. We started building that trust with Madeline before she even arrived on our farm. On the other hand, we did not have the opportunity to build that trust with Trexy before she arrived.
The first time we met Trexy was in a mall parking lot, transferring her from one trailer to another. Then after a 6 hour drive home, we had to get her in the halter and walk her to the barn. Although Trexy was a little hesitant in her new surroundings, overall she did great in transitioning to her new home.
The process of building trust did not start the first day they arrived. It started the moment we decided to bring cows to our farm. Laying the foundation for trust meant that we had to prepare a place that was safe for them. We had to install fences, build a barn, have proper food, clean water, and gather other supplies we may need in order to care for them well.
Trust is also something we work on every day. We do this by making sure that they have enough food and clean water, making sure that they are healthy, safe and protected. These things may sound simple, but they have huge impact on the relationship with your animal. If they trust you to provide for their physical needs, they will learn to trust you with everything else.
For example, we wanted our cows to be halter trained. In order to do that, we had to earn their trust. We had to show them that what we were doing was for their benefit, and not to harm them. Thankfully, their previous owners had already started the process of halter training, so it made it a little easier for us. But we still had to earn their trust in order to be able to put them in a halter without treats as an incentive. Each time we do halter training, it gets easier and easier, but it's still a work in progress.
Another great example of earning their trust is with how they respond when we would approach them in the pasture. We wanted to be able to walk out and not make them feel threatened or scared. It took us months to earn their trust in this area. For the first few weeks, when we would walk out to the pasture where the girls were laying down, they would immediately stand up. They would allow us to come up and give them scratches, but they were not ready for us to sit down in the pasture with them.
After our a few more weeks, they became much more comfortable with us approaching them while they were laying down, and no longer immediately stood up. We would sit close, but not right next to them. These sessions typically didn't last very long because they would get curious and come over to where we were sitting. Eventually, we were able to sit next to them and they would stay relaxed. This is when we knew the girls felt safe and trusted us.
Trust is a process. If you want to build a good relationship with any animal, or human for that matter, you have to start with trust. We have seen our girls trust us more and more every day. They no longer buck and run away when the fly spray comes out, they enjoy our company, and even take naps with their heads in our lap. We've had to earn this trust with all our animals. Even though we have their trust today we understand that we have to keep earning their trust and build on that relationship every single day.
How can I pray for you this week?
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