Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yesterday, Chuck helped me start building a simple round-pen and today I finished it. Of course, I needed to inaugurate it! I chose our stallion, *Beau, as it had been almost two years since I had last worked with him, other than during basic leading and foot-trimming (please read my full blog to learn why). I have been following a clicker page on Facebook, called “Clicker Training Horses” with Peggy Hogan as the leader. While reading through I learned about teaching a horse to stand on objects or “station”. As *Beau is already trained for driving and used to word commands, I thought today I would introduce him to this new word “station”. I brought down everything I would need: a large square of plywood, a traffic cone, treats….what’s CT without treats right? Then I went to get *Beau. He and *Red were way at the other end of their pasture when I started toward their gate. As I approached the solar charger to turn it off, I gave a whistle. *Beau looked up and I yelled, “Come Beau!” He immediately stopped eating and headed toward me. “Good boy!” I shouted.

Once he was underway, *Red decided he needed to come too, which is typical. They both arrived at the gate, and I put the rope halter on *Beau. As I always do, I clicked and treated him, and then offered some treats to *Red, thanking him for staying behind. This is the routine I have always used, and even though it has been two years, they remember it. Consistency is always my goal. *Beau and I went through the gate and after stopping to turn the power back on, away we went to the round pen.

Because it was new to him, I walked *Beau around both ways, allowing him to see the fencing with each eye. I incorporated some Tellington-Jones wand work, as he knows that, and we walked and whoa-ed several times. Once that was done, I went into the middle and asked him to circle me at a walk. Again, we worked on walk and whoa. *Beau is very sensitive to my energy, and we both need time to learn to properly communicate again, so we had a couple of bobbles in our work together; however, once it felt right I asked for and got walk-trot-walk transitions in both directions. All of this was done on my 12 foot line and all was done with a loop in it. That’s my boy!

After that, I gave him a bit of relax time, he nibbled on the grass in there (like he hadn’t been doing that all morning ), and asked for and got face scratches. This gave me time to bring out the plywood and lay it down. I picked up his lead and guided him toward the board. As he approached, I said ‘station’, and he stepped on it with both front hooves. I immediately clicked and treated. I backed him up, relaxed, then brought my energy up once again and asked him forward. Right before he stepped onto the board, I said ‘station’ again. He stepped, I C/T’d. We did this several times, and then I backed him off, and tied the lead up so he could move without tripping on it. I let him go to relax a bit, and went and got a traffic cone.

He knows the cone, he also knows ‘target’. The moment I got his attention and said ‘target’ he looked at the cone, and headed right for it to touch it with his nose. C/T!! We then spent time bouncing between rests, ‘target’ and ‘station’. After half a dozen times, and ending with a ‘station’, I told him what a fabulous guy he was, scratched his face for him, and untied the lead. We sauntered out of the round-pen and around to the truck where I grabbed a couple of large treats. Back we went to the pasture, turned off the power, and there was *Red waiting for us. In we went, I dropped the lead to hook up the gate and *Beau stood there politely waiting for me. I then took off the halter, tossed it out of the fence, stripped my gloves, tossed them out, and turned to the two boys, who had been standing there waiting and watching. I pulled the ‘cookies’ from my bag and asked them both for a back-up, gave them each their treat, a rub and a “What great boys you are!”

I had a fantastic time!

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