Springtime Fun, 3-22-14, Trailering Skills Session #137

In some of our springtime fun yesterday, Atticus and I practiced trailering skills, pedestal, tree target, the barrel, saddling, and playing with his “play clothes” on.

In the trailering skills department, we did the same as the day before except that this time I drove the truck forward a few feet.  Then the boy just would not get off!  And when he finally did, he got right back on.  I have to say that I think that having a few months off for cold winter weather has helped things quite a bit.

He also went to the end of the lane to see if he could go out to the fields, but turned around fairly quickly when he learned that was not an option and offered to walk to the trailer.  So now I have forward motion in mind to work on some more and maybe even get a trot.  Now a trot right into the trailer would be fun!

Speaking of weather, yesterday was a gorgeous 65.  Now it’s 45 and dropping and we should be expecting more snow this week.  Sigh.

However, on to more fun things.  We also played again with the pedestal and with the tree target.  I do think that with the tree target I need to up the ante in terms of reinforcers.  Giving more Alam cubes just doesn’t seem to be cutting it.  Targeting the tree target is easy and Alam is just fine as long as he doesn’t have to move his feet.  But asking him to move his whole body and four feet over to the target and back to me for the reinforcer is asking a lot!  It’s more physical work than anything else we do, so maybe I need to break out the Stud Muffins again.  Or maybe I need to work on forward motion instead and get more of that before going back to the tree target.  Hmm.

We also spent some time playing with the barrel to see if he can get the barrel upright more quickly.  In the process of the last couple of days, though, I’ve made a barrel a treat-dispensing toy for him.  I throw a few treats in the bottom of the barrel and he goes diving.  Or he knocks it over and pushes it around to get those treats out.  At least it keeps him occupied while I get more treats into my pouch.

When I came back into the paddock, there the handsome boy was – standing on the pedestal and posing!  🙂

Then we went to the washrack (hand target the whole way) to see what he’d do if I groomed him and attempted tacking up.

I discovered that there are a few places (his back behind the withers) that he doesn’t like being brushed except with the softest of brushes.  Mental note.  It does make sense since he’s had some saddle fit issues in the past.  But he mostly stayed put.  I tried to just do one or two swipes with the brush and then CT.  Sometimes I was slightly late and he’d take a step.  But he stopped at the sound of the click and waited for his treat.

Then for saddling, he stood like a rock.  In the past he’d move all around swinging his hind end away from me and the saddle or walk forward or back up.  At liberty, he was a rock.  Woohoo!  I finished saddling him and we went back to the paddock to play with his toys – pedestal, tree target, and barrel.

While at the barrel, I threw a few treats in and decided to take the saddle off and end the session there.

With his head in the barrel, I tried to loosen one of the billet straps and his head popped up.  I don’t think he was expecting that nor could he see it.  To remedy that, I treated him at the side with one hand while pulling up on the billet strap with the other.  This worked well and he dove into the barrel again.

When he was done with the barrel, it was his turn to go into a stall while Ollie came out.

Ollie came out and played with the toys and did well for him.  He was not nearly so frantic and “dancy” on the mat and pedestal this time.  The more I work with him, the better he gets.  Duh.

Since I was videoing Ollie trying to get his dance moves recorded, I also played with shaping the back up.  A year ago someone else almost shaped him into a rear.  I wanted to see if I could do it again as a demonstration of how to shape the back up incorrectly.  Alas, he wouldn’t go there.  Which, actually, is a good thing!  🙂

We’ll see what the weather brings in the next couple of days.  Then I’m off to Clicker Expo!

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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2 Responses to Springtime Fun, 3-22-14, Trailering Skills Session #137

  1. meadowmice says:

    Hey – what is Clicker Expo? Sounds intriguing!


  2. Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo, http://www.clickerexpo.com, is sort of a convention with faculty presenting various aspects of operant conditioning. There are two every year, one on the west coast and one on the east.


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