Expect Something Different, 11-22-13

I slept late and still felt tired. In fact, I didn’t quite feel awake as I got to the barn and started to feed in automatic mode. When all three horses were in, I remembered that I wanted to feed Atticus in the trailer again just to see if he’d get in after two days of moving the trailer 3-4 feet each time.

I got his feed bucket with his breakfast still in it and tried to get him to follow me out of the barn. Nope. He didn’t want to leave his stall. I tried targeting/shaping with some bits of breakfast as treats. We got halfway out of the barn when he turned around and went back to his stall. I left him in mid turn and put his breakfast in the trailer.

When I got back to the barn, Atty was in a different aisle, looking out the door there that was open, but just standing there. There he was between Ollie and Buzz. I asked him if he wanted to follow the empty bucket over the threshold and down a one-foot drop. He did and he followed me and the empty bucket all the way to the trailer.

He thought about where he was, looking around and checking for grass. Then he got in and I went to the side door to drop in a Stud Muffin. I closed the side door to back to the paddock gate to let myself out of the lane and Atty backed off the trailer. That’s okay. I left him there and went to feed Buzz and Ollie. As I left he got back on.

After feeding the other two, I needed to feed the chickens. On the way there, I stopped by the trailer to drop in a few more Alam cubes. Atty had gotten off again. When I added a few more treats, he got on again. I fed chickens.

When I went back to the feed room, I filled up my treat pouch with treats and went to the trailer. He hadn’t quite finished breakfast and I added a few more Alam cubes. He got back on again. I then went to get my pedestal to put it behind the trailer in the lane so we could play pedestal games.

He had gotten off in my trip and came to investigate the pedestal. As soon as it was in place, he got on it with his front feet and facing the trailer. I CT’d him for that, asked him to step forward so that his hind feet could step up and I CT’d that. Then I asked him forward again so that he could step off in preparation for backing onto the pedestal, which he did very well. He’s really getting the hang of it!

We did that at least one more time all the way through, then I moved the pedestal to the back of the trailer and opened the other back door and moved the divider over so that he’d have more room to back onto the trailer if he chose. I wasn’t going to ask for it, but I was going to set up for it.

He checked out the set up and I thought he might just load himself, but he didn’t. I kissed at him to come to me so that his tail to pointed to the trailer. He did that and I waited for him to offer something. He did offer to back a little and then he turned around to check out the pedestal and the trailer again. Again I thought he might just load himself, but he did not. I kissed to him again for him to turn around and face me; he did.

I waited to see what he’d do. He offered to back by increments and fairly straight, too. The tiny tries are just so cute and so exciting at the same time! Once he got to the pedestal, he decided to back onto the trailer as well.

I asked him to come forward (I just back up). Then I waited and he offered to back onto the pedestal again and he got on it. I asked him forward before he got onto the trailer though. We quit that portion and went into the paddock.

We played a little with the board. I was going to quit here, but the vet had called just as I started to work with Atty at the trailer. The vet would be coming in 45 minutes to do shots. Well, that’s 45 minutes in vet time. 🙂

So, no time like the present to practice receiving shots, right? I refilled my treat pouch and had everyone in stalls. I got a syringe with a needle and cap on and went out to practice needle targeting. Being a bit lazy, I decided to do this over the stall walls. Then I decided I wasn’t lazy after all because that’s just “protective contact” like in a zoo, right? Now to get in a few reps of “100:1” ratio of trials vs. real needle jabs. I wouldn’t get in 100, but 10 or 20 is better than zero, right?

I started with Buzz who is the champ at this. We did maybe ten trials on each side. Then I went to Ollie who was a bit over excited at being able to play at anything CT and we did perhaps 15 on each side. Then on to Atticus who is known to bite with real needle jabs. I’ve used Dermaplast in the past for EVERY SINGLE NEEDLE jab since I bought him six years ago. Maybe this time I wouldn’t have to.

Atty did take several more trials that either of the other two, but that’s okay. Perfect practice makes perfect, right? We did both sides at least 25 times.

The vet finally showed (about 45 minutes after he said he would) and we only needed to do rhino-flu as I managed to miss West Nile mosquito season for the fall.

I love my vet for many reasons and one is that he’s quite open minded. I wanted to show him what I had been doing with shots, so I asked for a syringe intending to just practice. But he filled the syringe with the vaccine and handed it to me. I did Buzz first. Three or so practice ones, CT’ing each one, of course. Then I took the cap off and as I plunged the needle in (that sounds so, so, violent, doesn’t it), I clicked, pulled the needle out, handed it to the vet, and treated with the other hand.

Now my vet told me to feed him as I was plunging the needle in, but I told him that I click then and feed after. But I assured him the classical conditioning works, too. 😀

On to Ollie where we did the same routine. Two down, one to go.

Now we get to Atty and I have the Dermaplast at the ready, but I want to try a few trials first and then see. So, just like the other two, I did three or four trials, took the cap off, and plunged in. Click! Treat! No Dermaplast! I’m actually amazed! I’m not sure that Atty was too happy about it, but he didn’t even attempt to bite or even swipe at me!

Everyone got a small handful of Alam cubes and then I got each of them a Stud Muffin.

What a great day!

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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