Atticus and Hoof Handling, 10-3-13

I had an interesting time today with Atty. He’s had an abscess in his right front foot twice (basically the same abscess that came back). So I have had to mess with the foot a bit and I did again today to make sure that it’s cleaned out and healing well. I also put something called Artimud in the area where the wall has separated from the white line and the white line has extruded.

I chose to work at liberty with him in the wash stall which is also in the paddock and the hay box is also in the paddock. First I have to get his attention out of the hay box (which has been a fun exercise in itself) and then he follows me through targeting to the wash stall. Then we practice the off-side turn so that he turns around and faces out. I sometimes shape him through this and sometimes I walk with him through the turn around part.

It got interesting when I had to lift his foot. For one thing, he wanted to leave, but clicking as he took a step caused him to stop for the treat, then I feed for position and ask him to back up. Okay, so we go through this a few times and I shape his letting me pick up his foot. I cleaned it out with a hoof pick.

But now I want to use my hoof knife (which I had to go look for!). And, apparently, he decided that the hoof knife was different enough from the hoof pick, that we had to start over from the beginning of hoof handling. Hm. Interesting, but we did.

Then I wanted to use my mechanic’s pick (like a dental pick) and clean out the separation and hole better. That again was different enough for Atty that we practiced hoof handling from the beginning. Again.

Then I wanted to pack the separation with the Artimud and again we had to practice from the beginning.

It’s interesting to me that each item was apparently different enough to Atty that we had to start over each time. Or maybe it was because of recent history with the abscess and he just didn’t want to. Either way, when we work at liberty and give them a voice and a choice, we need to be prepared to listen to their opinion! As much as it’s annoying and inconvenient and frustrating!

And Peggy reminded me that Ken Ramirez’s crew train their animals to expect something new or different each time. In that way, they are not having reteach each behavior again and again to get generalization. The generalization is built in because they’re taught to expect something different each time.

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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