Atticus and Trailer Loading Skills, 5-29-13

Although, at this point, maybe I should rename these entries as “trailer staying on” skills or “trailer riding” skills. 🙂

Today was a sort of take it easy and see what’s up day. The trailer is back in the same place it was yesterday and we approached the trailer the same way – on a target with no halter or lead rope. And I did not put up the butt bar or close the back doors once he loaded.

I did have to shape him to load, but I had planned on that and didn’t mind. The trailer had actually moved yesterday so I expected there to be some regrouping or maybe second thoughts on his part. And there were. “That dang trailer moved, Mom! It freaks me out when it does that! I’m not sure I want to get on again!”

His breakfast, a couple carrots, and a Stud Muffin were in the hay bag waiting for him. I tried playing the “can I walk toward the back of the trailer game” and found that he would back up with me and get off. We played this game a little until the other boys reminded me that they hadn’t had their breakfast yet. And I still had to let the chickens out. Atty can stay out of the trailer if he prefers.

When I came back from my other duties, Atty got back on when he saw that I dropped a Stud Muffin in the bag along with some treats. Occasionally, I click and put the treats in after he gets on as well.

I let him target the boat bumper as he chooses and needs to. I try to let his targeting come first, before I turn to walk away. I do not cue him to target the boat bumper. I let him offer that behavior. Sometimes I click and treat that three times (target=treat, target=treat, target=treat). But I also use it as an indicator that he’s okay with what’s going on. And I’d like it to become a cue for me to try turning away or walking away. He targets, I turn away.

I worked on this to see if he would stand in the trailer today and if I could touch a hock. I could do that a couple of times.

However, the Stud Muffin container was on the tongue platform of the trailer (because Atty can get to it under the hay bag if it’s under there). When I went to get another SM, Atty backed off. Ah. Perhaps he thinks I’m going to start the engine. So then the “stand game” became, “Can I turn toward the truck and take a step away?”, as opposed to turning toward the back of the trailer.

All in all, Atty got on the trailer about nine times. When I went to off load him, he waited until I got to the back and then slowly started to move. I think he moved one hind foot and then stopped. Then I cued him to back off and he did.

So, tomorrow’s work will be to practice his staying on the trailer while I turn toward the truck. 🙂

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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