Atticus and Trailer Loading Skills, 5-27-13

Still no camcorder batteries, but I have some on order. 🙂

The trailer is still in the parking area for the third and last time loading here. All went very well.

As before, we came out the barn gate and I let him graze a little. If his head came up, I clicked and let him go back to grass. When I felt we had done enough of that, I did ask that he bring his head up. He did, I CT’d, and on we went toward the trailer.

We took a bit of a right turn and grazed a bit more in front of the barn. Again, I waited for him to lift his head, I clicked, and back to grass. Then after a couple or three times of that, I asked for his head, he gave it, I CT’d, and on we went toward the trailer again.

However, the area changed yesterday as I had worn out every family member in weeding near the fence and taking out two very overgrown lilacs and a couple of nearly dead dogwood trees. So Atticus had to investigate this area that looks completely different now.

Back to the trailer. He put his head in, then turned and looked at me. When I waited for a bit more effort from him, he decided instead to leave. So shaping back to the trailer. He got on this time. I put up the butt bar and closed the back door. I treated him and left to feed the other horses. He had his breakfast, two carrots, and a stud muffin to keep him happy.

I came back in about three minutes, treated him, and went back to open the back door. Then I returned to the front, clicked him for looking at me, and treated him.

From here on, I started walking around the trailer and going to the other side door. If he looked at me, I CT’d and threw treats into the hay bag. If he offered to target his boat bumper, I CT’d and threw treats into the hay bag. I was also touching his hocks from both directions. If he stayed still until I got up front, and then looked at me, he got CT’d. Once he moved and I waited five seconds and repeated the move.

Once I decided that it was time to work on the backing off routine, I started that: I went to the back and moved the butt bar up and then back into lock position. If he didn’t move, I’d walk up front, CT for his looking at me. However, he seemed quite okay with everything, so I stopped waiting for him to touch the target (boat bumper).

After three or four butt bar rattles, I took the butt bar down. I waited a second, then went up front and CT’d him. Then I went to the back, paused, and cued for the back off. He waited for the cue and backed off calmly.

I let him go eat grass and I dropped the rope. I went to the trailer and put in a handful of treats and a Stud Muffin, dropping them in the hay bag so that he could hear them. I hope he hears that and knows what it means! 🙂

Then I picked him back up and loaded him again. He got right on. 🙂

Then we repeated the routine and he again backed off on cue.

A pretty good day. 🙂

Now the trailer is parked in the “driveway” chute between the barn and the paddock. The plan is to load him in a “new” place (the trailer is a good 50 feet closer to the back pasture now) and then drive up to where the trailer was all winter and off load. His first “trip” will be all of about 50 feet and then he gets to get off at his usual spot at home. 🙂

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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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