Friday, February 11, 2011

Smart Chrome!

I fell back on old bad habits, but Chrome was awesome!! I wanted to work on something new because I get bored, but not something too hard, so I decided to work on backing from a wiggle of the lead rope (all backing so far has been at liberty). One of the things that Alexandra Kurland says is that the more ways you can train a behavior the better it gets. So he knows how to back at liberty with me pointing at his chest, standing on his left or right (facing forward) with my hand on his chest and from backward pressure on the lead rope. The next step was to teach him to back to the end of his lead rope with me facing him, but not moving my feet.

I put the halter on him and stood in front of him. I started gently wiggling the rope. He of course had no clue what it was so I slooooowly increased the intensity. As soon as he shifted backward I clicked and treated. It took one more time and then he was backing perfectly off of a gentle wiggle. I was holding the rope at the very end with a long loop between us and the wiggle wasn't even reaching his halter. He's so smart. This is where I fell back on old habits. I wanted to see if he could back all the way to the end of the lead rope so I started wiggling. He backed the first few steps perfectly, but when I didn't follow him he got confused. Instead of being patient and showing him what I wanted I just started wiggling the rope harder. He eventually did back up and I clicked him for it. I feel bad for being impatient! It's so hard to break old habits. I will do better next time. When I realized what I was doing I had him back a couple more times (just two steps) and clicked him so we could end that on a good note.

Next I worked on him lowering his head from downward pressure on the rope. He had no trouble with that at all. I also did a few head lowers with my hand on his poll. He was perfect of course. Then I worked on halts. When I walked off he immediately went to my left side (his favorite side) so I worked on halts from that side. He does his halts perfectly now. My hand doesn't even get all of the way to his chest before he stops. :D

After a couple of times of that I went around to his left side. I had to use the lead rope (which at this point was looped over his neck) to remind him he could walk on my right side. I clicked him a couple of times for walking on my right side, then tried it without touching the lead. He did it all by himself so I worked on whoa. He did it perfectly on that side too! After that I worked on his backing with me standing beside him and putting my hand on his chest. Perfect! On both sides. He totally has that one down. :)

At that point I was freezing and tired so I called it quits. :) I'll do another session like this one tomorrow and then Sunday I think I'm going to video tape him again. I want to do a 'how to' video of starting clicker training with a horse. I've never done a how to video so I hope it turns out okay. :D Anyway if you made it all the way down here thanks for reading! I'm so proud of my boy. He was so focused today. I wonder if it had something to do with wearing the halter . . . . .

1 comment:

  1. You are already doing how-to videos. You just show by example. I'm glad that Chrome caught on right away. It seems that once you remove the fear and uncertainty of negative reinforcement, the horses seem to know exactly what to do.


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