So I had a wonderful CT day yesterday! All the kids were at the rescue working with their favorite ponies! It was really sweet. I got some videos too :)
This is Coco and her favorite girl, this pony came to our rescue completely feral. She had lived the first 16 years of her life loose in a pasture, bred a few times but never touched. It took 6 men 4 hours to herd her into a trailer to get her to our rescue. When we got her we had to leave a short rope hanging from her halter and we would back up to her slowly and not make eye contact and catch her. She lead only because she was too terrified to do otherwise. Touching her was out of the question. That's when this little volunteer decided to make her her own. She sat outside her stall for weeks, touching her nose and just enjoying her company, inside her paddock too. And soon the little pony started following her. That's when they started Clicker Training, helping Coco overcome her fears and having SO much fun together! They're working on their unmounted agility, but we didn't have the jumps out yesterday because its been so rainy.
I even started working on a new project myself :) We have a 3 year old colt at our rescue, we got him at 6 months as a seriously aggressive stud colt. After he had a little operation he settled down a great deal. Then, due to inter-human politics his training came to a stand still. Unfortunately he was left generally unhandled aside from being turned out and brought in. Now I've sorted out most of the politics and his training can resume, unfortunately he's had 2 years of ingraining some seriously terrible habits.
I had some questions with his work though, this is a video of our first real CT session. He figured out immediately that turning away earned him his treat, but I found myself backing out of his space a lot, he really pushes me into corners (his stall is much smaller than mine at home so I feel tight anyway). Can/should I push him back out of my space when he starts getting invasive? He is still turning his head away, but is way too close to me. He also turns his ears back, I've never seen this before? They're not pinned but I don't really understand why he's doing that? Usually horses have their eyes and ears on me while training. He's a very pushy, rude, nippy colt with no respect at this point. Is there anything outside of the norm that I could work on with CT to help reinforce his manners?
And lastly, this is Pretty in Pink and her favorite person, these two have been buddies for a long time but Pink has an awful lot of issues to work through. Pink came to us from a summer camp program, she was never actually used as a camp horse, she kicked her hind foot through a wall in the night and got hung up for several hours before anyone found her. She wasn't going to be sound before camp season was over so they opted to put her down. So we offered to take her, a few months of rest and good food and she was almost good as new. But we learned a bit more about her. It turns out she was a Spanish dancing horse (I won't get into the cruelty involved in this, you can look it up - it's not the same as just the gaited horse shows). But she suffers from some terrible anxiety attacks, this is the best we can decipher from how she acts. She'll kind of go numb, her eyes will soften like she's asleep, her leg muscles will start twitching and she'll sort of jog in place, sometimes bouncing just her hind legs, and then she'll let out one violent kick straight back or lunge out and bite the wall. She only does this alone in her stall or paddock, she's always alert and kind with humans, but wants nothing to do with other horses. It's almost like they don't understand her, they all avoid her and she avoids them. She's lost most of her teeth through this, so we don't know how old she is, we've seriously reinforced her stall to prevent injury when she has her episodes.
The young girl working with her has been working on keeping her calm and quiet, Pink was raised to believe if she's in hand or under saddle she needs to be doing her trot/gait/dance the entire time. She doesn't understand she can just walk and stop calmly. So this is why we've started CT, we want to show her that people can be wonderful and that she doesn't need to be worked up all the time.
This session with Pink was the best yet, she was calm the entire time - usually she gets frantic turning her head and touching and turning again and again - but she's very settled this time. I'm so proud of how far she's come. I think it'll be time soon to move her on to targetting and teaching her to stand still out in her paddock. :)
And finally, my phone was dead at this point, but when I got home I decided to do some targeting loose in the aisle with Tank. She did exceptionally well! I'm SO proud of her, she was still nervous in the narrow aisle but in the wide aisle she settled right down and ventured all around. This morning when leading her out she made it through the wide part of the aisle very easily but still pretty tense in the narrow part.
I also discovered something - 4 weeks ago I ran out of Brewer's Yeast and decided not to get more. I wonder if this was the change that triggered her spookiness? Does anyone know if that could be it? I'm going to be ordering her another calming supplement soon and hopefully that will help too.
Sorry for my massively long post I just thought I'd share some fun CT stuff