Working the Bay Butt Boys on Trailer-Loading Skills, 3-20-13

And today’s work with the Bay Butt Boys on trailer loading skills:

Atty went first, of course. He did load up right away and we worked on “stand” and my walking to the back of the trailer and touching his hock, I click, then I walk to the front and treat him. I might give him several treats. Then I ask him to target the boat bumper tied in front of his hay bag and we repeat that behavior three times. After a few trials of walking to the back, clicking, and walking to the front to treat, I asked him to back off. Now he’s rather stuck IN the trailer! But that’s okay. And sometimes he’s not interested in my treats or in targeting the boat bumper – he’d rather eat hay. That’s a good sign! 🙂

I used pieces of carrot for loading today as I’m out of Stud Muffins. I either need to go to the store or I need to make my own! (It would be cheaper that way.)

When he off loaded, we went to a mat and practiced hips to me and away. I was using a double tap to the hip to signal that I wanted his hip to target my hand (to me). I still do that but I was also using the word “hip”. This works fine when his left hip is coming to my hand, but he seems confused when I use the same word and double tap on his right hip. He steps left! Is that a “proofed” cue that he always steps left? 😀

So now I’m struggling with what other verbal cue would work better? Or do I need a different cue for the right side? Or do I use “left” and “right”? Or what?

He’s also somewhat confused with the “over” cue where I touch his barrel and he is to move away from me. Hm.

On to Ollie:

I start by having him stand on a mat (I haven’t decided on a verbal for that yet, but it may end up being “station”). Then I ask him to come forward so that he steps on the mat with his hind feet. I treat a lot for this. I just kind of shovel in a stead stream of treats here. Then I ask him to step forward again so that his hind feet in just in front of the mat. Then I do nothing and wait for him to offer to back up. I CT if a hind foot hits the mat. I keep CT’ing if he adjusts his position and a hind foot or both get on the mat. If, instead, he seems stable with both feet on, I do a steady stream of treats. Then we repeat. Right now I’m using a plywood mat so that I can hear what he’s doing even if I can’t see.

Ollie seems to be getting this backing onto the mat more quickly than Atty did. At least he’s not so committed to sidestepping the mat as he backs up. This could be the result of all the backing that Karen Borga did with him prior to and during the clinic last week. He does get a little fidgety and tends to tap dance on the mat, though. He also gets a little high-headed as I give him treats, so I try to feed him low.

The best part of today for Ollie was his willingness to walk forward toward that trailer! 🙂

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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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