More Spring Fun, 3-20-14, Trailering Skills Session #135

IMG_2428 Today I wanted to work on the trailer again but I also wanted to have several toys in the paddock to either start with, or come back to, or both. I took out my pedestal and put it down in the middle somewhere. I found the barrel and brought it back up out of the field where it had rolled. I got my target on a stick and hung it in the tether ring on the the mulberry tree.

I started with CT’ing Atty for ears forward while he was still in his stall, then we walked out to the paddock. He took one look at the pedestal and went straight for it, putting his front feet on. Smart boy! I asked him to come down and we went to the trailer.

Once in the lane for the trailer, he got right on. I went then went through the whole process with him starting with just walking to the back of the trailer. He started to back off, but didn’t get that far. I walked up front and treated him for staying on and then waited for his “mand” of touching the boat bumper three times. (Our routine is that I come back up front, click him for standing, treat, and then wait for him to touch the boat bumper three times, getting clicked and treated each time.) I walked back again and he stayed. Routine. Walked back and hooked up the butt bar. Walked up front and treated.. BB. Closed the back door. Routine. Went forward and turned on the truck engine and waited about ten seconds. Turned the engine off and went to Atty and treated. Routine. Went back and opened the back door. Routine. Walked back and dropped the butt bar. Routine. Went back and asked him off with a tail tug and “pickles!”. He was a bit slow today, but he did back off.

Once he was off, I jackpotted him, and then stepped away to see if he would load again. He did. 🙂 He got treats and then I asked him off again, which he did more promptly than before.

From the trailer, we went into the paddock to play with other toys. He again went for the pedestal and I experimented with my staying back about 20 feet to see what he offered to do. He offered to get on the pedestal with he front feet going forward, for which I reinforced him. I then asked him to come forward off the pedestal, but reinforced for the hind feet being on it. Once he was completely off the pedestal, he offered to back onto it. Very nice! I then asked him to back all the way off and getting the front feet back onto the pedestal and continue to back off.

We then went to the target hanging on the tree and played with that from both sides with my also asking him to turn his head or even take a small step away from the target to get his treat from me. Old work from last summer and he remembered well. He didn’t automatically offer this behavior because I don’t think he really saw the target at first. Once I wiggled it, he knew it was there and the game was on.

From the target, we went to the barrel. I wanted him to repeat his favorite behavior with it – put his nose in and bring it upright from lying down. He wasn’t offering that behavior but wanted to use his front feet instead. When that didn’t pay, he went back to the target on the tree to play that game instead! Smart boy!

We did come back to the barrel, though, to practice some more with it and we did finally get the barrel upright. Then I put it back down on its side so that he could push it with his nose and he did. Then I hand-targetted him away from it so that he could back to it and roll it with his hind feet. Of course, since we had just played with hind feet onto a pedestal, I could see that he was trying to actually put his hind feet ON it instead of just rolling it. This needs more shaping!

At this point I wanted to put him back in the barn to go catch my flock of chickens, but he was having none of it! Okay, I just left him with some treats and went to round of chickens.

Okay, so now that the chickens have been rounded up, I went back to playing with Atty some more. I think that he thinks that it’s high time we played again. It’s been nearly three months! I’m such a wimp when it comes to really cold weather!

This time one of the things I added was asking him to use a pile of snow and ice as a pedestal, which he did happily! 🙂

To get him back into the barn, I had to hand-target him in very, very slowly, inch by inch. He really didn’t want play time to be over!

For Ollie, I removed the pedestal and brought out the mat. I wanted to see what he’d do with the mat since we haven’t played with it for about a year. He went straight for it. But he does like to tap dance on it. Ollie is Mr. Frantic. Standing still is perfectly okay when it’s his idea and when CT is not involved. But once you bring out the clicker, it’s dance time! Body parts are being flung madly in all directions. I didn’t click so much as just fed continuously to keep his mind off of offering different foot placements.  I also “fed for position” in that I fed low and forward to encourage his putting more weight on his front feet.

Then I asked him to come forward with a hand target. He got both hind feet on the mat right away, but it made a sound (the mat is plywood) and he spooked himself! His hind end jumped into the air and his hind feet came back down on the mat again and again made noise. I wish I had that on video! And I don’t remember if I’ve ever asked him to get his hind feet on a mat. Onto a pedestal, yes. Mat, I don’t know.

We also played with the tree target, which I don’t think we’ve every done before either. But he did very well.

We then went to play with the barrel. Ollie would rather paw the barrel or push it with his nose. When I tried to shape him to put his nose down toward the opening of the barrel, he offered to bow. Bowing is his default behavior as it’s one of the first things we played with using CT. He eventually righted the barrel with his nose. In the process of encouraging him to put his nose more inside the barrel, I put a few treats in there. He never got them, though.IMG_2431

However, later when Atty was out with the barrel when playtime was over, he played with that barrel a lot. I’m certain he found the treats in there and he spent some time trying to get them out. 🙂

I also asked Ollie to trying the iceberg as a pedestal and he did. But he had to mess about with his foot placement and he ended up sliding down the front of it! 🙂

Very fun 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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1 Response to More Spring Fun, 3-20-14, Trailering Skills Session #135

  1. meadowmice says:

    Oh how I laughed when I read about Ollie and the mat! 😉 I can just see it happening! I am really enjoying using clicker training. I’m a beginner – just started last month. But WOW has it ever given me a way to communicate with our four donkeys. Love reading your ideas. Thank you!


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