Trailering Skills, Session #108, 10-16-13, and Paddock Games

Today, Atticus and I spent time on several things, some old, some new. We started with trailering skills. He willingly followed me out of the barn and through the gate into the lane where the trailer is. The other boys stayed in the barn today. The field gates were closed, as he soon found out. He began to graze on what he could find in the lane.

Then I dropped a Stud Muffin into the hay bag, which caught his attention. I kissed to him and called him to see if he would come up to the trailer to find out what was going on. He did and he got right on.

I then spent one session of ten trials on just walking back and touching his hock. He backed off once out of ten trials. I decided to use my “stand” cue as well today and it went like this: He’s on the trailer, he touches the boat bumper three times (each of which are CT’d), I drop a few treats into the hay bag, gently close the side door, and walk to the back of the trailer, where I touch a hock and say “stand”, then walk up front, open the side door, click and treat, and the process starts over with three touches of the boat bumper. At the end of the session, I asked him to back off with the “pickles!” verbal cue and a tail tug. There is a pause between the two.

The next two sessions of ten trials each were spent rattling the butt bar, during which he back up or off two times.

I was going to stop here, but he got back on, so we kept working, but I was running out of Alam as treats.

The next session was spent closing the butt bar and opening it again immediately. I think it was here that I switched to using pieces of Stud Muffin. The consequence of that was that now he wouldn’t get off the trailer. I tried three times, but he didn’t want to get off!

We continued with a session of the butt bar up and closing the back door for a second and opening it again to go up and CT. He did back into the butt bar a couple of times and at the end, he did back off the trailer.

I went to get more Alam as treats and put up the butt bar so he couldn’t get into the trailer and hooked the back door open to discourage him from grazing alongside the truck and trailer. While I was gone, Atty managed to squeeze by the door and graze next to the trailer anyway. When I got back, he backed himself out, between the trailer door and the paddock fence, eager to play some more! What a smart boy! 

We did another session with the back door closing, using Alam as treats. When I asked him to back off, he was actually already in motion.

Then I waited to see if he would get on again and he did. Then with a Stud Muffin in hand, I asked him to back off again. He waited for the cue this time and he got a Stud Muffin as a reward.

We then went into the paddock and played with a Jolly Ball. I got a new one since the dog has chewed the handles off the other two. He actually made some progress with this over the other times we’ve tried it. He held on for a second or two and tossed his head.

A friend found and gave me a Fisher-Price basketball hoop that’s only about three feet high. Atty was very interested in checking this out and pushing it over with his nose. Then I work with him on picking it back up with his nose! 

Then it was time to bring out the mattress and I think it’s his new, all-time favorite pedestal! He loves getting on it and he LOVES backing onto it! I think I’ll recommend that all hind-end awareness work start with a mattress!

I challenged his balance and core stability by picking out his hooves while he stood on the mattress. It was no surprise that his left hind is the most difficult to do. It is even on solid flat ground. He bends to the right, so that he means he weights his left side. Take the left hind away and he has more difficult standing up.

I’d like to teach him to stand on the balance cushions I have. Maybe next time.

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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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