Trailering Skills, Session #124, 12-3-13

Today, I set things up just like yesterday and the session ran essentially the same as yesterday, which I do consider to be a good thing!

He got on the trailer, but when I went to back to do something, anything, touch a hock, maybe?, he backed off. He moseyed around and looked for good things to eat, but there isn’t anything. He came back and got on again. I met him up front and CT’d him for loading again (but no Stud Muffin THIS time!).

We did our routine and I went back and rattled the butt bar. He stayed on and I went up front to do our routine. Then we went through the chain of behaviors – butt bar hooked, routine, back door closed, routine, turn engine on, routine, turn the engine off, routine, open the back door, routine, unhook the butt bar, routine, cue the back off. He didn’t want to get off right away. I think it took three cues. But really, I’m okay with that.

I closed the trailer and we went down to the pedestal and played with that a bit, including backing onto the pedestal. He’s getting so good at that – really staying straight and not swinging his haunches from side to side.

We walked toward the trailer again and I CT’d for steps that he’d give me moving toward the trailer and away from me so that he’s leading me.

He got on and we did the whole chain of behaviors again. However, when I should have turn the engine off, I went the other way – to the back of the trailer and opened the back door. Then I returned to the to the routine and I turned the engine off. Routine. Went back to drop the butt bar and he stepped back, but not into the butt bar.

I waited and then went up front and did our routine but I also gave him an SM in the hopes that that would reward him for staying put and not getting stressed out and pressing into the butt bar. I don’t know that that actually helps, but I did it anyway.

Then I went back again to drop the butt bar and he stayed there. I went up front and did our routine. Then to the back to ask him off. He stays there! I think I had to cue him three times (again!) to back off. When he finally offered to back off on his own, I added the cue as he shifted his weight.

I closed up the trailer and we went to play with the Jolly Ball – bite the handle. Then we went back to the paddock and did a little bit with the board there – walk forward to the board and put hind feet on it and back the back feet onto it. Just once each. That’s enough.

Then I left him a jackpot in the hay box to end that part of the session and I was out of treats. But I filled up again so that I could come back and clean out his feet. He’d really rather play a different game, I think, but I did get his feet clean.

I don’t know if I’ll have time to play with him tomorrow, but we’ll see. My goal is to do ten reps of this particular chain of behaviors and then move the truck and trailer back down near the paddock gate. The rig has been up by the barn for these last few sessions.

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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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