Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clicker With Both Equine

I worked with Chrome outside of the pasture in a halter so that Zeppelin wouldn't get in our way. I also wanted to see if he could do his tricks in a more distracting environment. Considering the distractions and the fact that we worked right before breakfast again he did fabulous.

First I worked on smile. I watched some videos on YouTube and decided I wanted to go ahead and try it without the target. No sense in letting it become a crutch. I used the target twice to make sure he knew what we were working on and then dropped it behind me and held my hand up toward his face. He immediately smiled! I was so proud of him. I did it four or five times and he did very well. He seemed to be holding his lip up longer too I guess because he wasn't distracted by the target. And to think I was worried about getting the behavior without the use of the target stick. :)

Next I worked on backing with a rope wiggle. He did well on it with a small wiggle and only backed crooked once. Then I worked on lateral flexion. He was doing them perfectly without me even having to tickle his side. Silly boy. He enjoys that one I think. He's definitely stiffer on his right side. I guess he's left handed . . . err hoofed.

Next I worked on hindquarter yields. I simply wanted to do it once on each side to make sure he doesn't forget how to do them, but he did it so well I did it a few times on each side. I guess taking a break was a good thing. He didn't cross his hoof under his belly sometimes, but I'm not too worried about that since I think it's do to soreness in the hock. He wanted to look at me, but after I reminded him he kept his neck straight. He did turn to face me though. I'll have to figure out how to fix that. It's not that big of a deal though.

Next we walked around a bit. I only clicked once for following me, but after that I don't really have to reward for it. He's really good at lining himself up and staying in position. I focused on whoa and he didn't do so well. He was blowing through the chest cue to whoa, which I can hardly blame him since we were going toward the road. He probably really wanted to go for a walk. It only took one or two reminders with the lead rope for him to listen to my hand on his chest. I just realized I only worked on his left side though . . . oops.

Then I did some backing while standing next to him. He didn't want to listen, but I got a couple of good ones and moved on. I also stood facing him and asked him to back with the hand cue, not the rope wiggle, and he did it perfectly.

Next I worked on head lowering. It wasn't going well at all. He was acting like a yoyo and also pulling his head out of my reach, so I decided to use the target. As he lowered his head I moved the target slowly out of his reach so he couldn't chew on it and clicked for his head being down. After a few repetitions of that I tried my hand again and he did okay, but not fantastic. I think I'm going to start working on it with him between me and a building so he can't turn his head away from me. If I can get him to stop evading I'll be able to work on duration. After he did it okay I ended the session with him.

I fed them and then worked with Zeppelin. I positioned myself by my tree and waited. He was licking the crumbs out of his bucket and watching me. I eventually got tired of waiting and stood up to go to him which dumped my treats onto the ground. While I was picking up the treats he came up behind me. Silly donkey.

We worked on touching the target. In the first session I was holding the target to his left. Today I worked on both sides. When I first put it on the right side of his face he was very wary. He quickly calmed though and did it perfectly switching sides each time. I of course grew bored with the target so I started making one stroke with my hand down his forehead, clicking while my hand was touching him (the noise near his face didn't bother him at all) and gave a treat as I removed my hand. He did really well. I was so proud of him. Hopefully soon I will be able to touch his whole body with a whip and then my hand. :) That's all for today.


  1. Great work. I've had the yo-yo effect too when working on head lowering, I think Star felt it meant she would earn more treats for more repetitions lol! It takes time to build duration in it, and your using the target is a great way to do that I think having something for them to focus on to start with really helps :)
    (ps I will get that painting sent off to you soon, just been very short of time xx)

  2. Wow! What a wonderful session! I used the face petting method with the clicker to gentle my boyfriend's cat. He was the only person able to touch her. It only took a couple sessions, and she was fine with me petting her. I never had to click her again. Of course, no one else can touch her but us.

    So, once he lets you touch him in a clicker session, you should click for you husband touching him, too. You could give your husband cookies for treats.


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