Trailering Skills (#159) and Paddock Games, 5-27-14

This will just be a summary of what we’ve done in the past eight sessions and a correction of my training plan.

In my last post, I said that I was planning of driving Atticus 50 feet for the next five (or maybe ten) sessions and then add the halter and lead back into the equation.  But then it hit me.  I’ve told other people to build duration a different way, to bounce around the time clock rather than continually increasing time inexorably.  For example, build seconds in a series like this:  1 second, 1 second, 2 seconds, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2 …

If I give that advice, I should take it.  That is, not only I should not jump directly to 50 feet and do that ten times in a row, I should bounce around the tape measure.  Now my plan looks more like this:  0 feet, 0 feet, 10 feet, 0 feet, 10 feet, 0 feet, 0, 10, 0, 20, 0, 10, 20, 0,  10, 0, 20, 10, 0, 30, 0, 0, 10, …

In any case, things in general are going well.  However, there seems to be a training loop of Atty backing off the trailer a time or three before letting me hook up the butt bar.  Up until now I was taking that as an indication of some emotional discomfort with the whole process.  But I’ve now decided that it is probably really a superstitious chain of events.

Until today, when he’d back up or off, I’d wait at the back of the trailer, then go up front and wait for him to get back on and essentially start over.  Then I shifted to shaping the standing still on the trailer again by going through our routine of touching the boat bumper three times (CTing each one) and then dropping a few treats in the hay bag each time I stepped away from him toward the back of the trailer, gradually increasing the distance.

Today, however, I skipped the boat bumper touches AND I tried building duration by bouncing around the tape measure as described above.  This seemed to work better in cleaning up the superstitious training loop.  We’ll see if that holds true tomorrow.

Something I need to mention (and haven’t in awhile) is that there is no nervous “dunging” in the process.  He rarely, if ever now, drops manure either outside or inside the trailer.  He just gets on.

Then, once he’s on, he quite often stands in a hip-shot manner.  To me, that’s an indication of relaxation while on the trailer.

The last couple of days, he hasn’t even grazed much in the lane and just gets on the trailer almost right away.  Today he got on and I hadn’t even pre-loaded the hay bag yet!

I did drive him about ten feet today and we’ll either have a day off tomorrow because the trimmer is coming or it will be a zero-travel day.

Fun in the Paddock

We’ve added a new game to the list of paddock games and that’s playing with a kiddie pool.  I got a 120-inch pool (made by Intex) for about $25 from the local Target store (also available on Amazon).  We inflated it and added a few inches of water.

With our fairly extensive and crazy training and reinforcement history, Atticus took to this like, well, a duck to water.  To him it was just another interesting thing to interact with and get mom to pay for.

In the beginning, however, Alam cubes weren’t quite enough to get him to step over the side and get wet.  I had to break out the Stud Muffins.  But once I got him started with Stud Muffins, he would accept the Alam cubes readily.

Today was our third day playing in the pool and Atty wanted to start there.  I wanted to start with cleaning his feet in the wash stall, but Atty wanted to play with his new toy.  I followed him to the pool and waited to see what he would offer me.  He readily offered to get into the pool and I happily paid him for it.  He will back up on cue in the pool (and has since the first time in it).  He will walk straight into and out of the pool.  He will back into and out of the pool.

Tomorrow, I’m going to only inflate the bottom layer of the wall to make it easier for him to step over it.

This video is from the first day: 

Ollie was not so blase’ about this pool business.  We don’t have the same training and reinforcement history as Atty and I have.  And Ollie is much more nervous about things like this.  Here is Ollie’s first attempt: 

And, just for fun, here is Atty’s “blooper”: 


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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