Buzz and His Ear, 1-23-13

Buzz injured his left ear last year by skinning the back of it off. I worked on having him target his ear to my hand. In this session, I started with a dry sponge and that went so well that I decided to put calendula ointment on his ear if I could. 🙂

What I had established in previous days was waiting for him to give me a kind of signal that he was ready for another attempt or trail. That is, he would bring his head down and tip his nose to me. You can see that I wait for this offering before I try to do anything with his ear.

I also previously established his targeting his ear to my hand.

I will attach all the videos related to the process in case you’re interested in seeing all of them.

This first one is near the end of the process (day five):

This next one is day one of the process:

Then session two:

Then session three:

Day four:

Day six:

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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4 Responses to Buzz and His Ear, 1-23-13

  1. meadowmice says:

    THANK YOU for posting these! I am working with my donkey who is a rescue of sorts … he will not let anyone work on his hooves. I’ve been learning about clicker training and we’ve progressed to where he will hesitantly let me hold his front hoof. I realize watching your clips that I should just focus on his feet. I’ve been working on targeting (a pylon and then a baton), working on having him allow me to hold his knees (hopefully so I can work up to bug spray in the summer), and having him allow me to walk along his back stroking his coat (so I can move about him in close quarters) AND THEN finishing our sessions with working on holding his hooves. I focus on the previous skills as ‘back up’ comfort tasks when he seems to be getting nervous about letting me touch / hold his hooves. We work for about fifteen minutes each morning. Do you have any tips on how to shape the behaviour needed for maintenance of hooves?


  2. Again, I recommend that you join the Clicker Training Horses group on Facebook. You’ll get a ton of help there.

    Briefly, and maybe I can go into more detail later, but work at liberty, assuming you can both be safe. This gives him the opportunity to leave if he feels it’s too much. Start where it’s easy for both of you and keep the rate of reinforcement (RoR) high – as high as possible with a low value treat and not when he’s hungry.

    Stroke his neck or shoulder depending on which is more comfortable for him. CT. Gradually, and I mean millimeter by millimeter, go a bit lower and bit a lower. Work five minutes at a time with something fun to do between. Teach a trick or play a game. Stay safe at all times. Go back to where you were and even back up a tiny bit. Work in 10- to 20-treat sessions if necessary. Target between sessions or when he seems to get stuck. Move in between sessions. Movement is relaxing for equines.

    Do as many sessions a day as you can. If that’s one, it’s one. If you can do five short sessions, great. If you can do several five-minute sessions interspersed with something easy/fun, then great. Then your sessions can last longer overall, but the actual training for hoof handling is only five minutes at a time.

    Pay attention to his body language and facial expressions, ears, etc. Try to determine the first possible indication that he’s getting stressed. Try to stop before that. Develop and end of session ritual with a handful of treats when you leave.

    Does this help?


  3. Lisa Rossman says:

    Just lovely! I love how you breathed and he relaxed and I love how you waited for him to indicate he was ready. Beautiful!


  4. Thanks, Lisa! 😀


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