Today’s Experiment in Backing onto a Mat

Trailer Loading, 12-18-12

At this point I can no longer remember the actual timeline. I should video more often! But he self-loaded onto the trailer three times! Once was, again, right after he was stressed listening to a stump grinder or something like that nearby. We could hear as it was very loud, but we could not see it. He lowered his head a couple of times and then just got on the trailer. 🙂

Back to the backing onto a mat. I did much less directing this time.* One, I wanted to use only the verbal “back” to get him to back. So I used very light pressure on the line or even just a tiny wave of my hand at my thigh and said “back”. Then I dropped the old cue and only said back. He did very well, both in responding to the verbal and I think he’s getting better about planning to step onto the plywood mat with his hind feet.

Sometimes I did ask for an “over”, both with voice and a tactile touch to his side, to get him to step sideways onto the mat with his hind feet. Sometimes I didn’t need to touch his side, just pointing to his side worked.

I want to do less and less cuing and we did work on that today. He did offer backing on his own with no cue (but he does that anyway). So now I’m trying to focus on just rewarding for getting his hind feet on the mat.

I have him target my fist to come forward off the mat so that he can back again. He does have distractions of grass in the area. I will let him take a grass break occasionally.

All in all, rather fun stuff!

*However, I realized later that I was using the lead line much more than I had been originally. I don’t know why, exactly. Because it was there and old habits die hard? I will try to be better about that tomorrow.

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About Laurie Higgins

I play with clicker training - with my horses, dogs, and cats. I also attempt to grow vegetables with the hope of one day being able to feed my family from my garden. My daughter and I are learning ballroom dancing. Well, we were. But she left me for a paying horse job, so now my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing. I'm also now helping Peggy Hogan, of Clicker Training Horses (and The Best Whisper is a Click) to teach people how to train their own horses using "clicker training".
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