Joy did so well today. Possibly the best since I've gotten her. She was in a really good mood today and did everything I asked without hesitation. We trotted in hand (a flip of the whip was needed to get her going - but she did trot next to me), walked through and up a creek a few feet, came right to me after I turned her out for a few mins, etc.
One thing I have been really working on the past few days is desensitization to blankets/towels/tarps. She HATED them on her back. I assume because she can't see them well. So for the past few days I had been frustratingly trying to just desensitize with persistence. She got ****ed. I got ****ed. I wanted to move on. But, while I feel taking a step back and taking a break is not necessarily wrong, especially with a baby, I didn't just want to skip it and move on to more fun/easy stuff. So I decided to switch it up a bit.
I bought a few clickers a couple weeks ago and decided to utilize them. I would start waving the towel around and putting it on her back. Every time she let me do so and didn't flinch/move away, I clicked the clicker and she got a treat. It did not take long for her to associate that standing still while I threw the towel around meant a treat/positive reinforcement.
She also picked up on the fact that the clicker means a treat almost instantly. So I would praise her, say things in a sing-songy way like "this is not going to hurt you, lalala!" whilst throwing the towel around and clicking the clicker when she stood still. We looked absolutely ridiculous I'm sure but what went from a frustrating workout turned out to be a fun exercise for both of us. She still does not love the towel yet but she is much, much more accepting of it being thrown around her now.
She's actually not very food motivated and treat training is not my favorite way to work with a horse. But it worked SO well for her in this instance. I wanted to take something she previously hated and make it fun for her. And it seemed to work. But I do like clicker training because she knows not to "ask" for a treat unless she hears the clicker go off. And she actually starting spitting the treats out after awhile so I think she got sick of them, but she does seem to respond well to the clicker and praise in general. So eventually I will probably wean her from treating altogether and just use clicker/praise. But who knows... she's teaching me new ways to work with her everyday!