Today we practiced with spraying water near Diamond, shaping lifting a foot, and grooming.
Diamond is a star but that means that I have to be on my toes and up my game. She is a fast mover, a fast thinker, a fast learner and she wants her reinforcers to be coming at her fast and furious! No delays for her, thank you very much.
We started with foot lifting because not only will the trimmer be back in less than five weeks, but the vet will be here to take blood and x-rays in less than two. I am concerned with how she’s moving. She seems very tender-footed when she moves. Yes, she’s on gravel (the only place I have available for her) but her feet were not that recently done before I picked her up. Maybe her soles are just thin in general or very sensitive, but I’d like to have x-rays to make sure there isn’t something else going on. And we’ll draw blood to check for insulin resistance just in case.
When we started with her feet today, what we already had in place were:
* Going into the wash stall and turning around,
* Targeting to either a hand-held target or my hand,
* Moving forward to touch the target or to get the food, and
* Moving backwards a little to get the food.
Because those things were there already, I could access them to shape the foot lift. In the beginning of the video clip you’ll see me targeting her forward and back and feeding for position to help as well. I start clicking, using a tongue click in the beginning, to isolate the movement of the right front. Because she has a tendency to snatch her feet up and I want to slow that down, I try to click as early as possible, even clicking for her shifting her weight to the left. Notice how quickly she figures out it’s about her right front foot.
We did two fairly short sessions on feet. I only worked with the right front, but I did find that she either doesn’t like me to change my position or she just doesn’t want me near her shoulder. If I moved closed to her shoulder, her foot lift became almost a pawing action directed at me! Nothing’s perfect.
Because I wasn’t certain where Diamond is concerning grooming and being touched, we practiced that before moving on to spraying. I have noticed in the past that she doesn’t like movement around her head, either hands or halters or halter straps. I have spent a little bit of time touching and stroking her with clicker training, but not a lot. Today, she seemed to be perfectly happy to stand still and get fed while being groomed.
Once we get comfortable with being sprayed, we can work on detangling the mane.
Then we changed to working on being sprayed. I had a spray bottle with just water in it, so we started with that. I did not click for anything here; I just fed and sprayed. Here’s a clip of the spray work. Near the end, I can spray her legs and chest and she’s seems happy to just stand there and get fed!
Now one of the problems with working with Diamond in the paddock is that she doesn’t want to go back into her alleyway. I’ve been able to get away with using a bucket of grain to lure her back to her area, but that is now no longer useful. Targeting by itself is not the full answer. What I did the other day was to use a plywood mat and the pedestal and use those as magnets for her to move from the paddock to the lane. I started with the mat near the gate and moved it a foot at a time until she was through the gate and would then get on the pedestal. Then I could close the gate.
Today, I used the target stick in a zigzag fashion until she was close enough to the pedestal to offer getting on that. Then I could close the gate. Once inside her area, we did a little practice with the pedestal and the plywood mat. We’ll try to spend more time in there training as time goes on. I need to do something about the flies though, which is why we’re working on spraying.
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