Sunday, May 9, 2010

More Clicker

Picture taken 3-16-2010.

I didn't feel like luring Zeppelin into Chrome's stall so I just put Chrome in it and fed Zep outside. He was much quicker to walk up to me and ate his feed without backing away so often. I think he only left me twice this time as opposed to six or seven times. I don't think it'll take long to build his confidence. I've decided when he's completely relaxed eating from the bucket with me still (I've been talking and moving my head but that's it) then I'll start slowly moving around a bit. A shift of my weight, a movement of my finger or elbow, things like that, until I can actually move my hands on and off the bucket. Eventually this should lead to petting him while he eats.

When Zep finished eating I worked with Chrome in his stall. It was weird working with him in the confined space but he's fine. I worked on backing first, which went well. I kept having to move to reposition him which I'm worried he may view as me giving my space to him (he's really testing his boundaries right now). I'll pay close attention to this and to what I'm doing with my body. At one point while I was waiting on him to chew and deciding what I wanted to do next (I know I need to start having a plan before I start so I don't send mixed up messages to him, but I'm not feeling motivated lately) and he raised his muzzle up to give me kisses. Without thinking I clicked because I really want to teach him to give kisses.

I'm not sure if teaching him kisses is a good idea right now though. I don't know that I'm 100% comfortable with him around my face (he's not acting like he wants to bite, but he does get impatient sometimes and hasn't learned self control yet). His teenage hormones are kicking in and he's being a butt lately, so I don't know. After I clicked that one time he started offering it constantly. The problem is we haven't learned stimulus control and I'm beginning to feel completely out of control of our lessons. I know it's good for him to experiment and offer behaviors, but I don't think I like his attitude sometimes. I don't know how to explain the vibe I'm getting. I'm not scared of him and I don't feel in any danger at all. Part of me wonders if it isn't just my old style of training and my unconscious desire to exert my dominance kicking in. I think I'm kind of a control freak. I'm just going to pay attention and be careful with what I'm doing. Eventually I have to figure out what's going on, but I must be patient. I might try to get my husband to video one of our sessions on his day off so you guys can watch it and see if you can see what's going on.

Also if anyone has any tips on teaching him patience and self control please don't hesitate to chime in. :)

I tried working on him touching the Jolly ball because I would eventually like to teach him to pick it up, but he kept offering kisses and Grownups are Talking (turning his head away). I eventually gave up because he was completely ignoring the ball. I ended the lesson with more backing because he's good at it, I couldn't work on leading in the stall and I was getting tired, bored and frustrated. I let him finish his breakfast and then put his halter on so I could lead him to the other paddock where he could graze.

The last few times I've let him graze he's been a total butt about leaving the grass. One day when my husband went to bring him in Chrome actually threatened him (ugly faces and half reared) then turned and galloped away, popping his butt but not kicking out. This upset me really bad because I wasn't there to discipline him, so he got away with the bad behavior. I haven't let him graze since then because I had to get over my anger and think of a solution. I decided I'm going to halter him and lead him to the paddock, even though the gate is attached to his current paddock and technically I could just open it and let him in. Then when I got to get him I'll take hold of his halter, clip a lead on and give him a treat for letting me catch him (going to use sugar because it's high value).

Then I'll lead him out. If he balks or gets ugly I'll either make him back up or I'll make him trot around me. Something to move his feet and get his attention (and hopefully respect) back on me. Then when I successfully get him back to his paddock I'll give him another sugar cube as his reward. This is a combination of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement (or would this be considered positive punishment since it's happening after the behavior??). I'll do some reading (to refresh my memory on the different reinforcements) and see if I can find a better way of doing it.

Oh and sorry for the extremely long wordy posts lately. :)


  1. I think the self control really starts to come with lots of training, and also the stimulus control aspect. I've gone through that phase of feeling out of control, and I'm just glad I got Alex Kurlands stuff, for every exercise you teach, you must also teach the opposite to keep the pendulum in balance. Once you get cues in, then it's important to start only reinforcing the cued efforts so they begin to understand. :)

  2. When my Mingo was his age, the only place we had to turn him out was the public show ring. He would run, play and then eat the grass around the edge of it.

    Since I had to immediately take him out if someone wanted to use it, I trained him to come when I called him. Quite simply, he always, always got a good treat when I clipped the lead on his halter. It didn't take long for him to come running.

    When he got older, he trotted, but until he was sick, he never let me down--and I never let him down, either. I always gave him a treat.

    You could practice with catch and release a number of times. You could click when you attach the lead. Only give him the treat when you actually call him, so that way it will be on a cue--and he won't pester you for the treat if you just happen to be in there with him.


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