Today at the trailer: Because yesterday was so good, I thought I’d start where I’d left off – hook up butt bar and close and latch back door for a second, then open everything again. Well, I was wrong about that. Atticus got on willingly several times, but also got off several times at lower levels of criteria – just my walking back, rattling the butt bar, hooking the butt bar. That was as far as we could go today. The experience left me wondering what I did wrong. Did I raise the criteria too fast or too high or both yesterday?
The only thing different, to start out, was that the other horses were in their stalls today and yesterday they were out in the paddock next to where we were working. Why would his behavior deteriorate when the boys were in their stalls rather than being in the paddock? I thought their being in the paddock was a distraction. But maybe I’m wrong about that, too. Maybe they were more of a comfort and their being in their stalls worried him. He’s a smart boy. Has he connected their being in their stalls with actually going somewhere in the trailer? That’s what I usually do: Put them in their stalls while I load him. Then I let them out before we leave.
I think that not only do I have to train the behaviors with them in the stalls as well as in the paddock, I also have to actually move him when they’re in the paddock to mix things up and try to break that connection between “boys in stalls means going somewhere.”
Tomorrow, I will work with Atticus with the boys out and with the boys in and see what happens.