Atticus and Trailer Loading Skills, 5-28-13

Still no camcorder batteries. Sorry.

I moved the trailer yesterday so that I could load him right from the paddock and drive forward about 40-50 feet. I put his breakfast, a couple of carrots, and a Stud Muffin in the hay bag. I got all the boys in their stalls and then got Atty, leading with the target only and walked him out the paddock gate to the trailer.

He paused here and I shaped him to load. It was a very new place for the trailer to be and I don’t mind lowering the criteria here. It only took three clicks/treats and he was on, enjoying breakfast. I put up the butt bar and closed the back door.

Then I went off to feed the others, let out the chickens, and feed the chickens. Because of the location of the trailer, Atty could see most of my comings and goings. He dropped a load of soft, but formed manure – not a cow pie.

When I came back, I treated him as usual and closed his side door and then went to the truck, started the engine, and drove forward 40-50 feet. So now the trailer is almost in its usual parking spot next to the barn; it’s about 15-20 feet closer to the paddock. I shut the engine off.

I came to his door, opened it, and treated him. Then I started working on our usual routine of walking back to touch a hock, walk forward and click and treat for looking for me out his side door. If he sits on the butt bar, I don’t move and wait for him to come off the butt bar. Then I try touching a hock again, walk forward, CT for looking at me.

He was inconsistent here as I was hoping to get three trials in a row of his not backing up and sitting on the butt bar. Somewhere in here, he pooped again. Not mushy though, so that’s fairly good.

He did seem anxious so I backed up another step to just seeing if I could turn and not have him back up. Then walk a step or two and not have him back up. At some point, he sighed and seemed better about the whole thing. I still wait for him to target his boat bumper and I CT for that in each trial (three reps).

I did switch to rattling the butt bar. He did sit on it a couple of times or back into it while I rattled it.

While I had a fair amount of time, I didn’t want this to go on all day while trying to get it perfect. But when I thought I could drop the butt bar without his sitting on it or rushing out backwards, I did. He did come off without the back off cue, but he waited for the butt bar to drop before backing off.

After he backed off, he went off to graze in the driveway and I went off to get more treats. After I came back and loaded his hay bag with treats and a Stud Muffin, he got back on. He did not stay on very long and backed off. He got on and off about nine times total. I did not plan to put up the butt bar at all. I just wanted to see if he would load again. He did! 😀 He got a Stud Muffin each time.

I’m happy with today’s work and tomorrow, we’ll just load and play and have a party. 🙂

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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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