Agreed - I'm definitely going to be more focused in the future. I really appreciate the clear application for how I could shape my goals and focus :)
This is a good point. I think, since I'm doing this on my own, we had so much success last year at liberty that I wanted to continue all our training from liberty. However, as is often true with clicker training, a one step back might open the door to the next 2 (or more!) steps forward.
Honestly, I don't have a good answer for this. When I got Snickers, he was already green broke and had a good foundation on him, which I took for granted and didn't really focus on training other than to take him out and get him used to trails and conditioning for endurance. It was one of those "if it's not broke, don't fix it" type of things, and I honestly just wanted to get right into endurance and not focus on training. He's an amazing endurance horse in attitude and ability as well as listening - but we've run into problems recently whenever I'm asking him to focus on what he's doing and do it correctly. This started with trying to get him to accept the bit (we usually go bit-less for endurance) and lift his back, but it's turned into the beginning of a complete makeover. I need to improve my riding technique and he needs to learn to listen when I do, so we're taking lessons together. I have been considering doing more clicker training with him, and will probably do so. However, I'm a little nervous because he has a very different personality than Flash. I was just reading about "Horsenality" profiles, and Snickers definitely fits the right-brained profile and I think he's an introvert but need to research it a little more. Either way, he's very stand-offish and *seems* disinterested, but is actually very aware of his surroundings at all times, emotional, and sensitive. He will readily walk away from food - even his favorite beet pulp - if there is something more concerning to him, which doesn't take much. He doesn't let on much, so even though the minimal clicker training we've done in the past (he wouldn't let anyone bridle him and threw his head around, so I taught him to relax and lower his head and be bridled before I would buy him), he definitely seem as "in" to it as Flash. However, now that I getting to know him a little better, he may be very motivated by clicker training and just doesn't express it. He's "too cool" to show he's excited haha. I guess I'll just have to try the clicker training to find out! He's a very odd horse and I've never met another one like him, but he intrigues me and I have a feeling I'll always be learning more about him. He's a puzzle for me to figure out :)
Flash sounds a LOT like my 2 and a half year old colt - and Snikers sounds JUST like my mini (minus the neurological issues xD). I think you're ignoring own teachings xD CT works for everyone, it's what you focus on that makes the difference. He probably doesn't need to learn to back up or stand still like Flash does - but you could use CT to help break him out of his shell, as well as futher your ground relationship with him. It sounds to me like Flash is your ground, fun horse and Snikers is your mounted work horse. I think you need to put them both at a happy balance between the two. Though personally I'd wait another few months and get a vet clearance before backing Flash again - I'd also probably work on line-driving before mounted work.
My black mini (Sugar Plum) is very mellow and doesn't seem to enjoy people, but she tolerates us well enough, she knows she is no match and allows us to do as we please - but isn't ever happy about it. She's never acted out. She seems alot like your Snikers. Just today working on CT with her - more than the skills she learned (Which were minimal - learned how to take a treat + how to touch a target) what she really
accomplished today was breaking out of her shell. I worked with her a total of 3, 5-10 minute sessions. By the time I walked into her paddock the 3rd time she came right
up to me, she was eager and started to actually try - every skill she actually learned she learned in the 3rd session, the previous two I spent just trying to get her to eat food from my hand and staying by me, she'd rather be away if my focus is on her. When I brought her in I was grooming the pony in the stall across from hers, we let her loose in the aisle at this time of day because she's a terrible stall walker and it helps her be calm to be able to walk the aisle. She stood with her head over the door of the pony I was grooming, one she typically doesn't fraternize with - so I smothered her in attention. This is why I use CT for this pony. I could make
her into doing anything I want, but seeing her break out of her little shell made it all worth it. I think Snikers will be much like her. I think it would be worth it for you to develop a ground relationship with him too. But of course, don't give up your lessons - that's Very valuable. And don't make every time you spend with him work, spend some time just sitting in his paddock, bring a book or a sketch pad - or the tack you make.
Back to Flash - he sounds just like my terrible pony!! My Punkin came to me as a violent 'liability' pony who we couldn't rehome, so I kept him ;) doing CT in his stall I had him targeting, backing up the 18ft his stall would let him back up, chasing and kicking footballs. Then we took it to the aisle of my barn, now he'll fetch the football and get his halter off the hook for me and many other tricks. But when I take his training outside his mind is going a mile a minute. He's looking for grass, he's listening to sounds, he's jumping at trucks going by, he's doing what I'm asking but forgetting half way. THIS sounds like Flash to me. When I tried to work with him at liberty in his paddock it led to me spending a lot of time trying to get him to come back to me and a lot of wasted time. It also taught him that in the barn he was allowed to just ignore me - which he had never
done before. So I started putting him on a lunge line. CT is fun - but it's still a lesson and he needs
to pay attention to me. I noticed a remarkable improvement, the moment he realized he couldn't just walk away or stop and graze anymore he started focusing on me again (suddenly I became the best option again). I think Flash would do best on a line, once the skills are solid and his attention is back on your it's worth taking them off-lead, but starting off-lead is probably prolonging the training, it really doesn't need to take so long.
Don't get me wrong - I think everything you're doing is GREAT - I'm seriously impressed and I'm no expert, I've only been doing CT a short while. I'm just saying how I would do things to speed things up and to prevent some bad habits :P Just from stuff I've learned from my own mistakes xD