Stable Games, 9-11-13

Atty and I played with “head up”, targeting the saddle pad, apple bobbing, and targeting the tree target.

We started with putting the head-up exercise on cue. I dropped a treat in his feed pan to begin. Then, when he lifts his head, I say, “up”, click, and drop another treat in his pan. I’m at a lower stage with the other two – I’m just tossing treats into the pan when their heads come up.

We then practiced targeting his belly/barrel to the saddle pad that I held up. He first went to the hay box and I came over with the saddle pad. I held it next to him and let it touch him, CT, and bring the pad down. I did ten trials and then held it very close to him and waited to see if he would move into it in some way. First he backed up, and I relaxed my arm with the pad, targeted him forward, waited four seconds, and tried again. I was on his right and he did do some very subtle touches of the pad with his barrel.

Then he walked away and approached the hay box on a different side and I then went to his left side and repeated the plan: ten touches with CT and then just held it close to him to see if he would offer a touch. Some were very subtle and maybe only a slight shift of weight forward or backward. Those I CT’d. Sometimes the treats were carrots coins.

Then he walked into the barn and left me at the hay box. I didn’t want to chase after him right way, so I took my time. In the barn he was the tiny aisle between Ollie and Buzz so I approached his left side as that was facing me. He backed up and changed direction. In the middle aisle, I worked with his right side. He left after a few and went into the hay and tool area to check out a bucket and feeder. I approached his left side again as that would not block him in and he could back out of there if he wanted to. He did back out after a few trials.

We then went to the muck tub with a fair about of water in it (at least 8 inches deep and maybe more). I dropped an apple in. Atty immediately came to the bucket and checked out the apple but also started drinking. He lowered the amount of water in the muck tub by at least two inches, maybe three! Did I mention that it’s VERY hot today? I don’t know if this will be his new approach or that he was just thirsty. He was able to get a bite of the apple and then the whole rest of the apple. At six inches deep, he can work with that to get at the apple – either just bites or the whole thing. He was able to keep the whole apple in his mouth while he ate it. he didn’t lose any part of it today.

At the target on the tree, we again practiced cleaning up the cueing process so that there were no ghost behaviors and I asked for a little more effort – he needed to take a step to get to the treat and then take a step back to be able to touch the target. For this extra effort, I gave two treats and sometimes a carrot coin.

After two sessions of ten trials each on each side of him, it became clear to me that he just wasn’t that into it. Probably because of the heat and humidity, so I left it at that and put a handful of treats, including carrot coins, in the hay box and quit for the day.

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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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