Monday, January 31, 2011

Chrome Clicker Training Video

Okay I made this video for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to show his horrid treat taking manners. I tried to say ouch every time he snatched, but I don't think you can hear me say it every single time. You can still see how frequently he's doing it (I even felt teeth brush my hand for the first time). I've gotten several suggestions on resolving the behavior. One suggestion was to reach toward his face with nothing in my hand to teach him that just because my hand is approaching his face doesn't mean that I always have a treat. Another suggestion was to take away the treat if he snatches (I'll do this in it's own little session - it's about to get cold again anyway). When he takes it nicely he can have it. I think I'm going to use both of these. Let me know if you think of anything else.

The second reason was to show our progress. He's doing really good with backing and head lowering. The head lowering is sloppy, but I haven't increased the criteria yet. Also I wanted to mention that he will do it with or without my hand on his poll (I want him to know both cues) and my hand is just barely touching him (I'm not pushing down at all). With the backing I'm also barely touching his chest.

I worked on whoa a couple of times, but my timing is off with the cue, click and treat. Normally my treat delivery is a LOT smoother, but the jacket I normally wear was in the wash and this one has tiny pockets, so I was having problems with it lol. I need to work on whoa some more.

The yielding of the haunches is a new thing. I've worked on it ONE other time! I honestly was not expecting him to remember it at all. He did so well and I was barely touching him. I love when I first switched sides he tried to go the way he's used to going, but quickly figured it out. I was just reading about that in my Clicker Training Colt Starting the Natural Horse book by Leslie Pavlich. :) It was cool seeing something she mentioned happening. :) It's a good book. Her style of writing takes a bit to get used too, because she's not normally a writer and originally wrote the book as her own personal training manual (it can get a little repetitive, but I just skim through that stuff), but once you get used to it the book is fantastic! I think it will help with Zep a lot because it talks about working with colts who have never been touched.

Anyway I think those were the only things I wanted to mention. My favorite parts of the video are where Chrome chases Zep off because I gave him one of his treats and the part where I almost ran over Zep. That scared me because I had no idea he was there! It's funny watching him follow me around and I don't ever remember being aware he was there. I think that's part of what is helping him get used to me. I'm going to post a Zeppelin specific video on my Farmer blog tomorrow. It is SOOOO cute so you have to check it out. Anyway, enjoy the video and let me know what I can do to improve our training sessions. Thanks in advance guys!!


  1. He sure is looking good! How is he so sleek looking in the middle of winter? Do you keep him blanketed?
    Zep is soooo cute too.

  2. I'm impressed. You are working so hard at both dog and horse training that you'll be making a living off these skills you have in no time. I'd hire you to work with my horses and dogs if you lived closer. In the meantime, I ordered some clickers and a clicker training book myself.

    I kind of wonder if Chrome's biting could be related to your energy level. I understand that you have to offer him the treat immediately following the click, but I'm wondering if you slowed down the process of bringing your hand to his mouth, he might take the treat in a more relaxed, less hurried manner. I don't know. You could try it.

  3. I think he's looking great!

    I did notice him snatching toward you a few times, but I don't think his treat taking looked that bad. (It's hard though, on the video, to see if or when he's using his teeth.)

    Three observations--

    1) Do you have a place to separate out Zep during your training sessions? This actually might help with his treat taking, as it would help him focus more on you. Also, I find sometimes they do more grabbing/snatching for treats if another horse (or donkey) is nearby and they're worrying/thinking about the other animal.

    2) For the head lowering, try having him lift his head to get the treat, rather than leaning down to his level. That way, you're always giving it at a consistent height and so that you also reset him so he can put his head down again.

    If they have trouble getting their head back up to the right height to find the treat, I like to make them take a step forward or back.

    3) Good job giving treats out away from your body with an outstreched hand. You might want to play around some with which hand you use.

    I think it can feel more fluid (for horse and human) to give the treat with the outside hand. So, around 3:14, try using your right hand instead. I pivot / take a step toward the horse w/ my outside foot and give the treat with my outside hand. Learned this technique from Alexandra Kurland and I think it works really nicely.

    His backing from pressure on the chest looks really nice and soft. I like that he does it every single time. He totally gets what you're asking. The backing from pointing your finger looked really great too.

    I loved zep letting you rub his face and ears around 3:20! He's definitely making progress, isn't he?!

    Also, I can't believe that was only his second time working on hind quarter yields. It looked great! He definitely is a smart little guy!



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