Atty and Trailer Loading Skills, 5-23-13

As with yesterday, I have no camcorder batteries at the moment, so no video.

I think I left something out of yesterday’s description and that was that on attempting a third loading of Atty onto the trailer to work on his staying there until I gave the cue, he really didn’t want to and pulled me all over the parking area.

With help from Peggy, I realized that I have to change my thinking. Instead of backing off and rationalizing the backing off by saying that I’m drilling him or that in real life I won’t ever be asking him to load and unload several times, I need to recognize his behavior as communication from him that he’s uncomfortable on some level. It’s just data. I don’t need to run from it. Non-confrontational me. 😛

So with that course correction in mind, I set it up the same as yesterday. The only difference was that we would be approaching from a different side of the barn. He immediately went to the first available grass and I let him graze for a couple of minutes. Then I asked for his head, clicked, and let him have grass. We did that a couple of times and then walked to the trailer.

Interestingly, he walked fairly straight to the trailer and then veered off at the last second. I asked for his head with the line and clicked and treated as I turned him around to face the trailer again. (I’m in an open area and free-shaping is not really an option here.) Once facing the trailer, he did load, although slowly and with caution. He got his breakfast and Stud Muffin. I closed the butt bar and treated him. I closed the back door and treated him. I went off to feed the other horses and was gone about three minutes.

I came back and treated him with a Stud Muffin, then opened the back door. When I got up front again, I clicked and treated. Then I waited for him to offer targeting, which I treated. Then I walked to the back and took down the butt bar. Otherwise Mr. Perfect-Until-Now Atticus, backed off the trailer with the cue! So much for my rationalization. He’d gotten it right the last several times!

So, no click, no treat, and we walked away to grass. I let him graze a bit and practiced asking for head up, click, and back to grass. I then walked him over the to trailer to show him that I was putting another Stud Muffin (SM) into the hay bag. Then I took him to load again, which he did. I hooked up the butt bar (BB) and went up front and clicked and treated. Then I walked away to let him finish breakfast and to get the paper. I was gone perhaps three minutes.

When I came back, I treated him for waiting, and waited for him to target the boat bumper. He did that three times. Then I went to the back and touched a hock. Got up front and CT’d. Went back and touched a hock. Went up front and CT’d. Went back and started to take the BB down. He backed up, so I left the BB up. I waited three seconds, walked up front, clicked him for looking at me, and treated. Walked back and repeated the attempt at unhooking the BB. I think I did that at least three times, maybe four.

When it looked like he was back to just standing there and not attempting to back up, I tried again and was successful this time in getting the BB down and being able to walk to the front and CT. Then walk to the back, wait a second, and cue the back off.

Successful day! 😀

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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