Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Click and Trail

Our First trail ride at the new farm!
Sunday the BM and I went on a short trail ride down the road. Bodhi was tentative though well behaved on the way out. He was doing a lot of stumbling which was a clue to how little he was paying attention to his feet but I could tell he was trying to stay calm so I mostly stayed out of his way. On the way back however he became quite anxious and even began to jig! I could not believe it! Bodhi, Mr. lazy was a jigger. I corrected the behavior with a halt every time he started to prance though he did it on and off pretty much the whole way home. I would have done more complicated busy work like serpentines and circles but I was already slowing poor Satin and BM to a crawl! I am anxious to go out again to see it the jig is a new habit or if it was just the jitters for his first trail ride in a while. I hope that my calm but consistent response to his little dance routine will soon nick this cute but annoying behavior in the butt.!

We also did some clicker work. He is out in the largest pasture on the farm so I brought my clicker, treat pouch, and a bridle with me to get him. I put on his bridle in the pasture and managed to climb on board. Since we have never ridden in this pasture before I knew he would be more forward than his usual ring self so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to work on our walk and halt cues. I am hoping that this tune up will help us on our next trail ride! "Clicking" for relaxed walk after trot, and then only clicking for an immediate response from trot to walk got me a wonderful transition and a intently listening horse in about 10 minutes. I then rode him up to the barn exchanged a bridle for a halter and lead rope and went in to the jump ring for some additional clicker fun. I have decided to teach him to pick things up and hand them to me (So essentially to fetch.) He will pick up his jolly ball and fling it for treats. I picked a small orange cone as our target for this exercise. Using targeting with the lunge whip I had him biting the cone within 5 minutes. It was then only a matter of minutes before Bodhi offered to lift the cone all the way up to my hand level. I grabbed the cone and clicked. He offered the behavior a few more times until he had his perfectly timed extinction burst. Note to self; always pick training objects that over zealous little haflingers can not destroy(why did I have to teach him soccer!) Once I got him back on track and picking it up, I decided to do some free lunging work while I had the clicker out. We were in the pasture with jumps so it is much larger than our normal ring. Once I asked him to move forward in a circle around me he kept going instead and jumped over a small fence! Whoops not what I was after. As I was contemplating what to do next I lost his attention completely and he trotted off to go see the horses over the fence. I went to get a lounge line :). On the lunge he went back to work and I clicked for good stops and turns. I took the line off again to see where we were now on our stop and turn cues. Much better! Now he was free lunging in the big pasture stopping and turning. Good boy! We went over a few of the small fences for fun and called it a day. I love clicker training, and Bodhi does too. I really need to make a point in incorporating it into more of our work together. When the BM showed up I proudly showed her what Bodhi and I had been working on with the cone. He picked up and dutifully handed it to me and I clicked and smiled. I then turned away to talk to the BM for a bit. I had dropped Bodhi's lead (unattached) on the ground and Bodhi reached down picked up and put it in my hand! This horse is such a quick study it is almost a bit creepy! I cannot wait to see if Bodhi's trail behavior will improve with our clicker training. Not only does clicker work create motivation to listen, and a help keep the animal focused in new situations, I think it builds confidence as well. It is great for any horse that is having confidence or attention issues.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all! He seems to be a very quick learner, which makes it even more fun.