Diamond’s Journey, 5-25 and 26-2017


I’m already forgetting everything Diamond and I did together  on the 24th, the 25th, and the 26th.  But I have to some video from the 25th to remind me.  We worked on several things, including halter shaping, ears up, and working with multiples.  Unfortunately, none of the video shows anything worth publishing here.

That means working with Atticus while also having Diamond nearby.  Atticus does not like Diamond if I am nearby, especially if I am training her and not him.  Resource guard much?  And she’s a pistol who says, “I have hind hooves and I know how to use them!”  She turns her butt to him as soon as he gets aggressive.

I got Diamond a yearling-sized halter since the one she came with was far too big and I’m not handy with rope halters.  I had gotten both of them off her and noticed that she didn’t like my hands near her head and she didn’t like flapping or loose bits moving around her head either.

We were in a stall together and we practiced shaping her nose to touch the halter; it didn’t matter where on the halter.  When she fell a little stressed, perhaps, she circled around me.  I put pellets in her pan and circled around her so that I could be on her left side.  We did this probably four or five times.

We also practiced a round robin of sorts with ears up.  It’s something I’ve been working on with Atty for quite awhile now and thought it would be good to practice that and have Diamond be reinforced as well.  This is part of working with multiples.  Diamond seemed to get ears up pretty well and Ollie always has his ears up!

Then Diamond and I went outside the barn to work multiples with Atty.  This time Atty was not so nice.  He had been so cooperative, relatively speaking, when we were all inside.  Now Diamond and I were outside his stall and he was definitely not happy!  I clicked him for ears up and reinforced that while I just fed Diamond for being there.  I was feeding with both hands!  But I should move her away from him to get him “out of the kitchen” sooner.

This will be a longer process than just one day.

I also worked with Diamond a little bit with her feet and reinforcing her for letting me touch her.


Because we have already built a reinforcement history of working in the stall and working in the wash rack, Diamond likes being in those places and will offer to go there, including going past Atty to her stall even if it’s not open.  She can get past him if I’m not around.

But she needs to go back to her area when we done training.  The better idea is to train in her area so that she wants to be there.

On Friday, the 26th, we did that.  We practiced with the new, flat halter.  The shaping went well with her offering to put her nose into the nose part.  But that seems to also come with a bit of flinging the nose up and to the right, away from me.  My timing had to be to drop the halter before she had a chance to fling!  It’s getting better.

Part of learning to put on the halter is the part where the crown piece flips over the neck, so we practiced that as well so that she can get used to flapping things around her.  And being touched and stroked.

Backing off from having the halter moving around and being touched on this side (her left) is also being touched on the opposite side of her neck without the halter strap.

I also switched to holding the halter in a different way such that my right hand and arm reach over her neck behind her ears.  This also needs to be practiced and trained without the halter and is part of touching her on her right side while I’m on her left.

There’s always one more piece that needs to be shaped prior to the one I just started!  In the words of Gilda Radner, “It’s always something!”

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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