Atticus and Trailering Skills, 6-3-13, Session #77

Fantastic Day! Wowie zowie! Hot dog! And Hallelujah! 😀

Can you tell I’m really happy? But boy, do I wish I had video of this! Still waiting for batteries!

The plan, such as it was, for today was to have the engine running when Atty got on. I don’t think he likes the sound of the engine starting as the sound is a high-pitched, metallic grinding whine. The test was to see if he would load and then go from there.

So the rig is set up where it has been the last few sessions – next to the paddock, 40-50 feet closer to the back of the property rather than up closer to the barn, his breakfast is in the hay bag along with two carrots and two (!) Stud Muffins.

I took him out on a target only (no halter, no lead). He probably would have loaded right up, but I think my body position/language pulled him off as I backed up to close the paddock gate. Once I was oriented correctly, he got right on. I CT’d him and gave him a treat or two even though his breakfast was in there. I left the butt bar down and the doors open.

I went off to feed the other horses and the chickens. The chickens also needed water so I had to get the waterer and fill it up and replace it. Atty can see most of where I go out his side door.

When he finished his breakfast, he got off and rattled the paddock gate, even though he had access to some grass in the driveway/chute area.

When I was done with other chores, I came back to his side door and kissed to him. I put a few treats in the hay bag and he got right on again.

We returned to our practice of standing, targeting, etc., while I walked closer and closer to the truck and back. I remember hearing him step backwards only once. Twice I got all the way to the door and opened it and closed it. Atty could leave any time he wanted to as the back of the trailer was not closed up.

Then I went back to standing practice while I walked to the back of the trailer. After a couple of reps, I hooked up the butt bar and came forward to click and treat. Then I went back and closed the back door on the right side and came forward to click and treat. Then back to close the left back door and forward to click and treat.

I then practiced going forward to the truck and back. At this point, I thought, “What the heck. I might as well get in and drive forward the 40-50 feet.” So I did. His side door was still open. I stopped and parked the truck, leaving the engine running.

I got back to him and CT’d. Then worked my way back to the back to open the back door on his side and forward to CT. Then back to see if I could unhook the butt bar or just rattle it. I was able to unhook it all the way and let it drop. He stood like a champ throughout! I came forward to CT. Remember that I always let him target his boat bumper between trials and I always toss in a few extra treats when I leave whether forward or backward. Then I went back to cue the back off. I waited a second as he was still chewing, then I gave the back off cue (tail tug and “pickles!”). He waited a second and backed off calmly. He got a jackpot.

Then I asked him to back up another step. Then I walked around him to his side door and put in more treats. He loaded right up again easy as pie. I went through the whole routine again with putting up the butt bar and closing the back door, in pieces of course.

Then I went through the whole routine in reverse to let him off again. When I went to drop the butt bar, I went really slowly and wasn’t sure I should drop it, but I did. Then a second later, he stepped back one step. I reflexively put my hand on his butt and said “wait”. I had attempted to train a “wait” cue a couple of years ago. Hallelujah! It worked! He not only stopped, he stepped forward again and waited for me to get up front so I could CT him. Wow! 😀

The neat thing (aside from no manure at all) was that once we started the backing out routine the first time after moving the trailer, his feet did not move an inch. He was in a square position, a little stretched out behind, but his feet did not move. He reminded me of Buzz’s traveling position, though not as extreme.

Gold Star 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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