For real, Christy!!
I've tried just talking to my boss about but she starts doing that half-hearted "it's fine" thing..from what I can surmise, the "issue" seems to realllly be that even though I'm doing the actions she wants, I'm not being a "cookie-cutter" human. For instance, using a crop as my "carrot stick" vs the actual giant stick. The horses don't care, I'm using it "correctly", the horses respond how they're supposed to, the lady who trained me in these methods even actually used a "mini-carrot-stick" while training me in these methods...which was literally an orange crop [but the Parelli's sent it to her! *collective 'ooooooh'*], but this is a crop that wasn't sent from the Parellis and it's black. Obviously it can't work. >.<
It's just little stuff like that.
I love this job but this is driving me up a wall.
Next week I'll try it her way though. I just find the 'real' stick to be much too long and too heavy for real precision.
I feel like she wants me to handle these horses...but not handle them well. She probably doesn't mean it like that but that's the impression I get. For me, that's probably the worst thing in the world. Horses are my area of expertise and here's someone who seems to be telling me to half-*bleep* something I love to do and am actually possibly mildly skilled in......
Maybe I need to find a polite and respectful way to share that^ with her. I don't know. Half the time she acts like she's really open to hearing what I have to say but the other half of the time she comes across as really unwilling to hear what I say, then hears whatever I say however she wants to hear it [like during my interview, I told her that I didn't have much of a groundwork background, which is true in the sense that I don't do a lot of groundwork myself and I've never been 'taught' by anyone about groundwork. I have read a ton about groundwork and the ideas behind it...but that wouldn't have been presenting myself accurately, had I presented myself as skilled at groundwork via book-learning.
However, now, whenever I have any ideas about groundwork, or things to try on the ground, or the body language of the horses, she says "but you don't have experience with groundwork..." and dismisses my idea/thoughts. Since when is body language 'groundwork'...?]. Anyway, I'm just afraid of saying anything that'll add to her apparent impression of my incompetency.
Everybody else who I've worked with there is in my corner and I'm always hearing things like "the horses really go better for you than the other handlers..." or "____[handler] had a rough day yesterday and ____[horse] is doing the same thing to you, but it's not translating back this time"...that sort of thing.
Anyway, who knows. It'll be ok though, I'm sure. I adore this job with all my heart and I'm sure it'll be a stepping stone to something greater one day. Trying hard not to worry about it too much!
Only other though: Animal trainer "squee"!!
I've been working with Atti on teaching him to "shake hands" and so far we were still in the "luring" stage where I had to cue him, then pick up his leg, and praise him.
[oh, Caroline, by the way, your advice about using a lower hand signal was PERFECT. I've kept "back up" as it was, but shifted "bye-bye" to waving from about hip-level (his eye level) and the confusion between cues is 85% gone! He stills waves sometimes after he's done backing up, but that's more to do with the order I used to drill the tricks in, I think...]
BUT GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TODAY!!!?
I cued him to shake hands and kept my hand out for a few seconds to give him the option of trying it himself [when you train like that, it's REALLY hard for them the first few times you don't "help"] and, after looking at my hand and sniffing it thoroughly, he put his leg on my hand ALL BY HIMSELF like I wanted!!
I only asked him to shake hands once more with the "hard" leg [he's very "right handed" so I'm trying to make "shake hands" be either leg - left leg is HARD for him] and I had to lure him, but still! I got one correct trick! It seems like as soon as he does it on his own once, then he flies to perfecting the trick. So I'm not worried.
And, on a similar note, we started a new trick today...totally unintentionally!
I was putting out fresh bedding in Lacey's stall and he was hanging out with me, as per his usual. I usually pile it all in the center of the stall, then spread it, and usually he likes to stand on the pile and sniff the bedding.
Today he actually pawed at the bedding and I caught him right at the second he did it with a "GOOD BOY!" He seriously LIT UP like a Christmas tree [like as soon as I said those words, he made direct eye contact with me and started doing it more emphatically!!], then started pawing and head butting the pile. And he actually spread it around the stall for me, surprisingly thoroughly!
So now that one is called "Can you help?" He LOVES it. It still needs a little work but he thought it was fun AND he was being praised for having fun=the most internally rewarding trick evvvvver!
They say the first trick is the hardest and after that things start coming fast. Boy, are "they" right!! Haha