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Clicker Training: Challenge Accepted

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        06-27-2013, 07:00 PM
      #161
    Showing
    When I mentioned the mugging, there are CT naysayers who will read this, not about your horse.
         
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        06-27-2013, 07:53 PM
      #162
    Started
    Thank you saddlebag, I'll try to be more assertive.
    This video today was her best day yet, I don't mind a little tension or some huffing and puffing, but generally her body is so tense she can hardly move. When she does move she's frantic and wide eyed and any sound will leave her explosive, even the pony blowing his nose. She will bolt backwards or leap forwards, which ever way will not hit me. She gets so tense and can't settle down, she dances in place ready to explode. So this isn't just being a little anxious.
    Also when I lead her forward she will often freeze and not budge, I will dislodge her by yielding her shoulder but often that leads to bolting backwards or just exploding in general.
    Following her target today was the closest we got to calm, I just need tk get her to stay focused on me and not everything else. Which I don't know how to do, anything physical results in explosions or more tension.
         
        06-27-2013, 08:08 PM
      #163
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
    I use alfalfa cubes and break them up into small wafers, or a small handful (tbsp.) of senior pellets.
    I can't use alfalfa cubes :( But alternating between timothy hay cubes broken into wafers and alternated with my home-made low-sugar treats is wonderful!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
    JillyBean, Snickers is ignoring you. When leading him and he turns his head away, start walking in the opposite direction. Don't worry about the yank he'll feel, just keep going and don't look at him. Walk a dozen strides then turn back again. After three or four times he'll start paying more attention to you and will want to watch your shoulders so avoid getting yanked. Where you look tells him where you are going.

    Yes, I did have some troubles with Snickers ignoring me, but I actually sold him back in April. I'm not sure if I posted it on here, though? I guess I must have. Flash, the palomino quarter horse gelding that I'm working with, is a much better horse for me.

    Speaking of which, I have a great update that I"m so excited to tell you all about! But I will have to finish reading before I post...
    PunksTank likes this.
         
        06-27-2013, 08:10 PM
      #164
    Started
    Oh and also, I have taken the method of firmly marching her butt in and out several times. This would get her out and back in, but never made the fear go away. She still freezes at both doors and requires work to get through it. She has gone through this aisle hundreds of times she was scared at first and we worked through it, months have gone by and now she's terrified of the aisle again. But this time nothing is working her through it, its like each morning she forgets getting used to it yesterday.
         
        06-27-2013, 09:03 PM
      #165
    Yearling
    I have updates! And an important insight...

    So, Flash has had a few weeks off due to lameness. During this time, I was making lots of videos to share on HF so others could help me evaluate his lameness. In letting others evaluate him, though, something I didn't realize I was doing came up. Many people commented on how "still" his hind end was, like he was having back pain. I guessed (and I think at least partially correctly) that this might actually have to do with the clicker training. Before he went lame, Flash and I had been working on keeping everything SLOW, but not necessarily collected. I didn't want him taking off on me at a trot when I finally climbed up there, especially since I'm breaking him bareback and in a halter. However, I had accidentally reinforced the complete disengagement of his hind end. He wasn't reaching or moving naturally - not even his tail. It was almost tucked, like he was intimidated or parylized. (Though I did take pride when someone mentioned they just may not be used to seeing such a young horse so "contained".) Of course, non-clicker people won't understand how I might have "trained" my horse to be so still in his hind-end - but he immediately started tracking up and engaging better as soon as I focused on it yesterday. He was actually moving like a horse! Just beware - for better or worse, you may not realize all the things your horse is learning with CT!

    Which brings me to today's session. He was behaving SO well, listening to my cues to walk, trot, lope, stop (we're still working on downward transitions), and back up. He also needs to learn better manners for the farrier, so I picked out all his feet and then did some leg stretches with him - both to loosen him up and to get him used to letting us do with his feet whatever we will and for how long we want to. With how great the day was going, I decided to ride, which we haven't done in 3 weeks. Now, remember, he's still a young teenager at the fresh age of three and he's been on more-or-less stall rest for the last three weeks without me even thinking about climbing on. Yet, he was a total sweetheart. He didn't miss a single cue and was very responsive to all of my leg cues, picking up right where we left off. We only did walking (and we threw a few serpentines in there), but I couldn't have been happier with him! I just stuck my hands on my hips and didn't even touch the reins! I still can't get over how I finally have a horse that FREEZES when I ask him to - and not even with my voice, but with subtle body movements. Such a good boy!

    So, I decided we'd finally try backing. I had plenty of treats that I wanted to use up today (I'm going to make a new batch), so we went for it. I gave him the same verbal cue as I do on the ground, and he started walking forward. I held him back (in the halter), and he couldn't figure out what to do, but he's improving because he'd usually hop when he got frustrated but today he just kept trying. I was holding him back pretty stiffly with the halter and pulling on him, repeating "back up", and sooner than later he took a tiny step back in the middle of moving all over the place. CLICK! He froze - he knew he'd done something but didn't know what yet. He got his treat, and then we tried it again. I said "back up", and held him back, but in slighatly less time, he took a BIG step back - CLICK! Well, he got it that time and before I could even ask him, he started backing at good speed and kept going halfway across the arena (which I didn't click for because I didn't ask him to and he obviously got what I wanted). So, we immediately went to walking, stopping, and backing up on cue. I still need to give him a slight tap on the reins so he knows I'm asking him to go backward instead of forward, but he backs faster than my horse that I won the state 4-H reining competition ever did! All those times I've asked him for speed when backing on the ground definitely paid off!

    Oh, and did I mention Flash learned how to back under saddle (well, bareback), and fairly quickly but without any pressure, all in the matter of 5 minutes?
         
        06-27-2013, 09:04 PM
      #166
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PunksTank    
    Oh and also, I have taken the method of firmly marching her butt in and out several times. This would get her out and back in, but never made the fear go away. She still freezes at both doors and requires work to get through it. She has gone through this aisle hundreds of times she was scared at first and we worked through it, months have gone by and now she's terrified of the aisle again. But this time nothing is working her through it, its like each morning she forgets getting used to it yesterday.
    This might just be crazy enough to work.... can you turn her loose in the aisle and just give her time in it? Feed her in it? Treat it like her stall for a little bit?
         
        06-27-2013, 10:34 PM
      #167
    Started
    Jillybean that's why I'm on this thread! That might be crazy enough to work!! Just before she had this terrible relapse I had started teaching her to stand on a floor mat, so I wouldnt have to tie her, so I had her loose in the wide part of the aisle. She was wonderful! Thank you!!
    I'll have to rope off my tack room I want her to see in but not go in and try to find a way to rope off the hay so she doesnt just chow down. My only concern is if she tries to turn around she might panick herself if she hits a wall... but I'll just have to see.
         
        06-27-2013, 10:35 PM
      #168
    Started
    Wow flash sounds like he's doing amazingly!! Congrats, that's huge. And your so right, we have to be careful what were unintentiknally teaching, which is why I like to film most of my training, for personal review. Way to go and I'm so glad he's feeling better
         
        06-27-2013, 10:54 PM
      #169
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PunksTank    
    Jillybean that's why I'm on this thread! That might be crazy enough to work!! Just before she had this terrible relapse I had started teaching her to stand on a floor mat, so I wouldnt have to tie her, so I had her loose in the wide part of the aisle. She was wonderful! Thank you!!
    I'll have to rope off my tack room I want her to see in but not go in and try to find a way to rope off the hay so she doesnt just chow down. My only concern is if she tries to turn around she might panick herself if she hits a wall... but I'll just have to see.
    Hmmm that makes me think.... What if you try a little trick I learned working with kids - instead of addressing the issue head-on, what if you ask her to focus on something else? For instance, when I've had a 4-year-old come off a horse during a lesson, I ask her to tell me how many fingers I'm holding up and insist she's wrong. They spend so much time trying to convince me that I'm wrong and count it over and over again until they completely forget how they just fell off a horse. It's pretty darn funny haha ;)

    You mention you were teaching her to stand on a mat. What if you resumed that - make her focus on the mat instead of the isle. Put the mat right outside her stall and ask her to stand on it. Then move it a little further into the stall, and then a little more. She can't reach out with those feet as much as her nose - she has to move her whole body to get those feet on a matt, and the focus is down on the floor rather than all the other things in the isle.

    Get creative - what else can you ask her to do that requires her to be in the aisle? Can you back her through the isle? Can you have her "fetch" something from the aisle? Maybe just let her hang out in the isle and play "mystery target" that click and treat for when she touches them, getting her to enjoy investigating stuff? Haha, now you've got the wheels turning....
         
        06-27-2013, 10:59 PM
      #170
    Yearling
    This might also be something you can do in any area she's uncomfortable with: lunge her in circles and slowly move closer and closer to what they're afraid of. You can't really do that in an aisle, but it seems like that might help her other places. My BO is a Parelli fanatic and explained this "circle game" to me, and while I don't necessarily subscribe to PP, this does make sense. She had a horse that wouldn't go in water, so she got off and lunged the horse near the water. Once the horse was focused on lunging instead of the water, she moved closer and closer to the water as the horse went around her, so eventually the edge of the circle was just touching the water, and then was all the way in the water - and when the horse had all four feet a good way into the water, she stopped her and let her rest. The task for the horse becomes lunging rather than overcoming the fear of water, but in the end it's done both.
         

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