I took treats out with the intention of doing a quick review of backing from a light pull on his tail, but did so much more. I realized that the times before when I laid across Chrome's back that I hadn’t clicked him even once for it, so I decided to do that today to associate me being on his back with a good thing. So I led him to the pedestal, lined him up and lay my belly across his back. I clicked for him standing still and when he turned his head to get his treat I almost fell off LOL! I forgot how much turning their head bulges out their barrel.
When I got off balance he started backing up and I couldn’t recover my balance so I slid off. We lined up and tried again. Once again I lost my balance, but my husband grabbed my foot to keep me on long enough to click and treat him for standing still. He did really well though. He never got freaked out, just a little off balance. I’m going to stay off his back for a while. I think he’s proven that my weight isn’t going to be a big deal so no sense in stressing his back anymore than necessary at his age.
After that we worked on backing by his tail. It was hilarious at one point I was standing on the pedestal talking to my husband and Chrome turned his butt to me and started backing up before I even asked him for anything! Too cute! He did great with that. He always loves the brand new things.
After that I worked on head lowering, which he did great. I’m adding a vocal cue “down” to it as well, since it’s something I want him to know really well. Then I tried playing yoyo with him. He would come forward, but didn’t want to back up. I think it’s because I’ve been teaching him to back up toward me by his tail. I’ll try again later when we hadn’t just worked on backing by his tail.
So the last thing I worked on was picking up his front hooves. I would ask him to pick it up, click/treat. Ask him to pick it up, scratches. He would pick it up on his own, scratches but no other reward since I didn’t ask for it. He offers his front legs all the time and I don’t want to discourage it since I had so much trouble a little while ago with asking him to give his hooves. I did that on both sides alternating which reward I used. I’ll put it on a variable reinforcement schedule soon because he has to learn that he still needs to do what I ask even when I don’t have a clicker. So this impromptu session went great!
Oh, almost forgot, at one point I had him shoulder yielding toward me. I completely forgot to use my flat palm cue for moving his body toward me though, duh! I asked him to step away to reposition him because we were stuck by a brush pile and after that he wouldn’t yield toward me again. I think he got confused. I’ll do better with my cues next time.
My husband also worked with Faran. He worked on come and then on lowering his head. Faran did fantastic!! My husband was squeezing his crest lightly just in front of his withers for the cue and Faran was dropping his head all the way to the ground. He's so smart. It's so awesome to see the difference in Faran when he catches on to something and actually understands what he's being asked for. I don't think things have ever been explained to him before.
My husband was excited and forgot to feed at arms length so Faran got very muggy and was lowering his head with it turned toward him, so I suggested he switch sides. As soon as my husband went to Faran's left side his attitude completely changed. He was doing beautiful sidepasses away from my husband trying to keep him from getting close to his left side. The only thing I can think of is that's the side most people mount from so this is more residual damage from that stupid trainer his previous owner took him to. I stood in Faran's way to block sideways movement so he started backing up. When I got by his hip he didn't have anywhere to go and stopped. My husband clicked him for that and they went back to head lowering as if nothing had ever happened. I think he needs to spend some time rewarding Faran for being on his left side! It's funny the holes you find when you least expect it. It's going to take a long time to undo the damage done to Faran by supposed trainers, but it will be worth it in the end to gain his trust. :)