Trailering Skills, Session #96, 7-22-13

Atticus and I only did a short, playful session yesterday. I haven’t worked with him in over two weeks, maybe pushing three, so I didn’t want to set my sights too high. My daughter would be taking the truck and trailer today, so again I didn’t want to ask for too much and then not be able to test how he felt about it today.

Yesterday, I set things up to play with backing onto the pedestal some more but also opened the trailer if he wanted to go in. The backing to the pedestal is difficult for him, as it would be for most horses, because he can’t see behind himself very well and instinct is to avoid those difficult things with the hind feet.

To help him know what’s back there, I always walk him forward onto the pedestal first. Then I inch him off of it so that he can balance himself and be very careful where he puts his feet. This also sets him up so that once his back feet have inched forward off the pedestal, it’s not that far to back onto it.

He will still vote with his feet and get on the trailer all by himself.

The weather was a bit iffy yesterday. It started out cooler and more comfortable than the steam bath it had been, but was threatening to rain. In fact, it did start raining after awhile.

The best part of yesterday’s session was when he chose to get on the trailer while it was raining! It wasn’t raining as hard as it had been when we had to go for the saddle fit, but it was raining hard enough to make noise inside the trailer. He didn’t stay on long, but he didn’t stay OFF long, either.

He got back on and we continued with our routine of trailering skills: He gets on and I CT. I walk to the back and hook up the butt bar. I walk forward and CT. I walk back and close the door. I walk forward and CT. Then I do the reverse one at a time: Door, butt bar, cue to get off. Between each piece, I let him touch the boat bumper without a cue. It’s HIS cue to me that he’s ready for the next step. I CT each touch, however, and we do three. Then I leave a small handful of treats in the hay bag as I walk to the back.

Earlier in the session, when it wasn’t raining, I had streamlined the routine and eliminated the small handful of treats as I walk to the back. When it was raining and he was a bit stressed by it, I lowered my criteria to allow for his uncertainty.

Throughout the session, we went back and forth between the pedestal work and the trailering skills practice. We finished with a nice, neat, backing onto the pedestal. 🙂

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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