So color me furious.
Its been a while since I've been doing any real clicker training, just been using it for the usual daily routine, no new skills. So basically I've just been doing it with my mare, she's learning to lunge because the vet says she has got
to loose some weight. She's doing exceptionally well and no longer uses a lunge line - I'm torn with a few things - but I'll get to that later...
So not much was happening on the CT front and I needed to go away for a few days (my brother got married!
) - my pony sitter is wonderful, my best friend since middle school. She loves my horses (especially the pony) and does CT with the little one when she has time. She's always been perfect, but she had a rough weekend while I was away.
She knows the routine with my mare, when something "scary" is happening (like the landscapers making funny noises outside) she'll freeze up at her stall door. I usually work her through these situations by getting her focused on the target and going outside. My pony sitter is used to this situation even though it doesn't happen often.
Apparently something was lost in communication this week. Apparently my pony sitter was upset about something and forgot that you actually do
need to give the food after you click. Apparently she did a LOT of target work with Tank, clicking but without giving any reward after.
Needless to say when I got home I had trouble getting my mare out of her stall (I had brought the fans out and they were pretty terrifying). When I got out the target she didn't care, she did eventually touch it for me, for which I clicked + treated, but when the target was in a less comfortable place (closer to the fans) she just didn't want to take the gamble. After much work I got her outside. I started our lunging work again and she moved out when asked and switched up to a trot, but whenever I clicked she wouldn't stop for the treat - she just kind of ignored me...
SO I'm frustrated But I'm taking this as an opportunity to get serious and get her training on track.
I've started again completely from the beginning, this time I'm using an actual clicker (not a smooch noise). She was the first horse I worked with and I was new and unsure when I started her - so I'm discovering a few gaps in our previous training (or maybe they were things I let slip), but I'm curious some ideas on how to work through these little issues.
I'm working on just the first step of standing calmly and looking away - I'm finding she's not very calm at all - she's actually very worked up, desperate for the click. She fidgets a lot - faces away in both directions back and forth, she'll back up and step forward, touch me then pull away, toss her head. I click and treat when she turns her head away but I just can't seem to achieve "calm".
Also, I do have to keep lunging her, but I'm a little torn about the way I'm doing it - I can't think of another way to do it though. I started by lunging her like normal and C+T when she responds correctly. I started with a line and a lunge whip and asked her to move out, C+T when she moved out and walked, I repeated this until she understood walk and to stop at the click. She's figuring it out to wait for which direction I want her to go and has progressed to trotting. She still has trouble with downward transitions, but she picks up her trot well. She's been doing great but I still feel like I've been relying on a lot of Pressure+release and the C+T is just a cherry on the cake, not so much what she's working for. Except now she's doing so well I just need to use the lunge whip, she'll lunge around me without a line (even in her big paddock!) - I prefer this because the circles are easier to make bigger and I like to change things up and make her move down straight lines up and down the area and continue the circle without having to use a line to make her listen. She's doing fantastic
with that, but again I still feel like I'm using more Pressure/Release than I'd like using the whip as actual pressure (not just for more clear communication).
Thanks in advance I'm looking forward to some advice I'm feeling pretty torn right now. Having trouble sticking with things.