Sunday, February 13, 2011

Learning Something New

Since today was my day off I spent time grooming the mud ball and putting MTG in his mane and tail. His mane still looks absolutely horrible. I also cleaned out his hooves and sprayed them with salt water. When I was cleaning his left rear hoof one of the turkeys, who were strutting around under our feet, flapped his wings and spooked Chrome. My brave little colt spooked in place, but never pulled his hoof away! Smart boy!

After our grooming session I did some clicker training. I wanted to get video of it, but my husband was busy and I didn't feel like setting up the tripod. To be honest being video taped just stresses me out and those sessions don't tend to go as well. Since we worked on some new stuff I'm glad it was off camera, although it would be helpful to be able to go back and look at the footage.

I also want to mention that all of this was done in the driveway, not the pasture, so we were in a totally new environment as far as clicker training goes. He was completely ignoring the turkeys and my husband dropping things and making noise. So first we worked on backing from a rope wiggle. He did great at first, but then he started getting distracted. I got his attention back on me, but he was backing crooked, so I lined him back up and backed him twice, then called it quits with that. When he's focused he actually is backing to the end of the rope now. :)

After that I worked on hindquarter yields. I finally figured out why he's so much better on one side. It's because of the club foot and sore hock. He steps under and across well with his sore leg, but not with the other because that's putting the weight on his sore leg. He still yields his hindquarters, he just puts his hoof down next to the other one (making short steps) instead of crossing in front of it. I'll have to get it on video tonight if I have time so you can see what I'm talking about. I get all dyslexic when I'm trying to explain it.

Anyway after that I started working on lateral bends of the neck. At first I was using the rope to ask his head to come around, but that totally confused him and he was yielding his haunches in whole circles with me following him. I'm hoping he will eventually realize when I'm facing forward that I'm asking for flexion and when I'm facing his haunches I'm asking for yields. I finally dropped the rope and just teased his head around with a treat. We did this a little bit last year (which feels like a millenium ago) and he quickly remembered it. By the time I quit he was cocking his hip and touching his flank for a treat!! A little more of a bend than I wanted, but I'm not complaining!

Eventually I hope to teach them as separate behaviors. Now I just have to think over this lesson and see how I can make it more clear to him what I'm asking. I want him to eventually do the one rein stops like Clinton Anderson does, but I think I'm going to teach it to him the clicker way and then add the rope in simply as a "cue". That's what I'm learning in the Pavlich book is that it's good to teach the behavior with clicker training and then proof it with negative reinforcement (pressure/release), so that it becomes the cue for the behavior. Instead of using the negative reinforcement (pressure/release) to teach the behavior. It sounds good so I'll give it a shot. This is a good one to try it on anyway because I'm so used to teaching it the way Clinton taught it. It'll be interesting to see how it goes doing it this way. I'll keep you updated.

After the lateral flexion I did a few more hindquarter yields so that he could see the difference in my body language. He did them perfectly. I have noticed a mistake I made though. When I was teaching the hindquarter yields I asked him to bring his face to me to make it easier for him, so now he swings his hindquarters away, but brings his face around in front of me at the same time so that he's ready to grab his treat. I'm going to try to make sure I'm giving him his treat with his head pointing forward and his shoulder next to me, even if he has to step away from me to get it. I need to work on shoulder yields so I can get control of his front end lol. Anyway this probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I'm sure my feeble little brain will work it out with a bit more practice hehe!

ETA: After checking again I think I had it backwards. He has trouble crossing the sore leg under . . . but other times he does it perfectly fine, so maybe it's just laziness. I'm not sure. I did a second session with him though, working on hindquarter yields and lateral flexion. On the yields I noticed he's moving his front feet too much and my click is a little slow. Some things to work on. :) I'm glad I got video. I'll try to get it edited soon so you guys can see it. :)


  1. Wow, he is doing great. If you keep up the good work, he will know everything he needs to know to be ridden except for having a rider on his back.

    One thing I have noticed with clicker training is the enthusiasm my horse has for his training sessions. It is so much more fun for me, too.

  2. I think Leslie's approach works really nicely.

    We eventually want the pressure cue, but I think it really helps the horses to learn it first with clicker training and shaping.



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