Friday, April 30, 2010

Sorry No Video

Normally I try not to post more than once a day, but I did my monthly goals update earlier and now I have to tell you about my clicker session with Chrome today. I wasn't able to get video because . . .

Okay, that was a bit crazy. We had to get our stuff and dogs and take them to the basement because of a tornado. Luckily it hopped over us. So now that the drama is over I'll finish my post.

I didn't get video because of the rain and bad weather, but I was able to show my husband all of Chrome's tricks. He did target, grownups are talking and backing really well. He picked right back up where we left off with the backing. I was able to point to his chest and he backs up. I even got two steps a couple of times. I also did the leading exercise. He places himself right by my shoulder perfectly, but he's still a bit slow to stop. He only pushed past me once. The other times he just stopped about two steps past me.

I tried working on giving kisses, but he's confused so I'm going to drop it for a bit (unless he starts offering again) and probably use targeting later to do that one.

Well that's all for now. I have one of my worst sinus headaches ever as well as a sore, itchy throat and I'm exhausted from sneezing all day. I hate allergies. Mine are always bad, but for about three weeks every spring and every fall they get worst than bad lol. I'll write tomorrow.

Monthly Goals 4-30-2010

My 2010 goals for Chrome are:

1. Use clicker training to desensitize Chrome to as much as possible.
2. Go for more walks on the roads. Use clicker training to make it a positive experience.
3. Teach Chrome some tricks specifically smile.
4. Write in Chrome’s blog more often.
5. Work on hauling to new places.

My break down of those goals for April were:

1. I want to keep using targeting to make sure he knows for absolute sure what the clicker means before we move on.
2. I would like to take Chrome for more walks just because I enjoy it so much, but I’m not going to put any pressure on us. If I feel he’s ready or has excess energy to burn I’ll take him for a short walk.
3. I want to keep working on targeting. I would like to get him to follow it around consistently and just make sure he knows that the click marks the correct behavior.
4. Keep up the good work!!
5. I think Chrome is almost ready to start working with the trailer. I want to use clicker to make it positive again. I don’t know if I want to teach him to follow the target on or if I want to shape him loading on his own. Not sure where he is mentally for that. Unfortunately right now the horse trailer is housing a few roosters that can’t be out with the flock. One of them is sold, but the others we don’t know about yet. If I manage to vacate the current occupants I might work on something with him.

My progress is:

1. Chrome definitely knows what the clicker is now!! We've made far more progress than I expected this month. He is so smart!!
2. I walked him a couple of times but I've spent so much time grooming him, playing with him, training him, cleaning the paddock, etc that I don't think he missed them.
3. Wow we've worked on targeting, grownups are talking, sticking with me, backing, kisses, etc. He's done great!
4. I did decent with writing. I've been keeping track of all of his clicker, so that's good.
5. Have not worked with the trailer yet, but the feathered occupants have finally been moved so it won't be long. :)

My new goals for May are:

1. I want to keep working on what we've been working on and practice gaining stimulus control. I need to add vocal cues as well. I am also dying to give him his first bath!
2. I'm going to continue taking him on sporadic walks so he doesn't forget how to behave while out walking. Depending on how he progresses I might use the clicker on a walk.
3. As for tricks I really want to teach him to give kisses.
4. I need to keep writing, but I also want to get more consistent with Donkey Day.
5. I haven't decided yet if I want to work on this in May. I did forget to mention that during one of our clicker sessions I had him following the target through tight places that he normally just goes around. I'm just going to wait and see what happens here. I really need to because I would like to haul him to the stable where I used to work to show him off to all of my friends.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Clicker Training Backing

Picture taken 3-28-2010.

Today I started off with the 'Grownups are Talking' game. He already has this one down like a pro and I haven't even reinforced it all that much. After a refresher on that I started working on backing. He kept wanting to walk away instead of back up so I put myself directly in front of him and put my hand on his face, then walked toward him. That got a backward step really fast. By the end of the session he was stepping back with me just pointing at his chest!! I was so impressed!! He catches on so quickly!

I didn't work on targeting today because I only got five hours of sleep last night (do not function well on less than eight lol) and was feeling tired and lazy. When backing got boring (and too easy) I started working on giving kisses. I think I should have taught kisses before I taught the grownups game. It was difficult to get him to face me. I kind of lured him up to my face so I could plant a kiss on his nose and clicked for that a couple of times. I didn't do it anymore than that because I realized I hadn't put his vitamin supplement in so I went back to the barn for that, did a couple more backs and then let him finish his supper. I'll try to do a bit more tomorrow when I've had some sleep. My husband and I both have a day off tomorrow so maybe I can get him to film some. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Clicker

Picture taken 4-10-2010.

First I want to mention that I'm having problems with blogger comments. I publish them, but they don't show up. I have no idea why this is happening and I'm sorry if your comment doesn't get posted. I really appreciate all of your comments and hope you continue to leave them. Thanks!

Secondly, everyone was right! Zeppelin is watching what we're doing. When I let him out of Chrome's stall he follows me around like he wants to know where his treats are. :) It was adorable. He also followed me around while I was mucking out the paddock. I know he's not as scared as he acts because he stands right by the wagon while I'm tossing poop into it. Silly donkey. They also backed up to the wagon to poop. Both of them missed however lol.

Anyway I worked with Chrome on following the target some more. I also worked on it at a lower height, but I think my crouching was confusing him (or I went too low, too fast). We'll try that again later. He followed me all over. I even had him laterally flexing to touch the target by his shoulder. :)

At one point I was wandering around aimlessly while he chewed and realized he was glued to my side in what you would consider a perfect heel position when walking a dog. On a whim I clicked and gave him a bit of his feed. After he'd done that a few times, with me clicking him when he was in the right position, I started working on whoa. I'd say whoa, then stop and wait for him to stop, then I would click and treat. If anyone has done this before please tell me if it's okay that I was reinforcing him even though he took a couple of steps past me. By the end of the session he was stopping right next to me, so I think he was really starting to figure it out. I ended the session with a jackpot and gave him scratches in all his favorite spots while he finished his dinner. Chrome is such a good boy!! I was very pleased with how it went, because without even meaning to we worked on flexing, leading and stopping. :) Next step is to work on backing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Clicker & Target Training

Picture taken 1-29-2010.

I had a clicker session with Chrome this evening and it went fantastic!! This was only his fifth ever clicker session (and as my followers know they've been sporadic) and I swear he's the smartest horse I've ever worked with!! I've been reading Alexandra Kurland's The Click That Teaches and picking up a lot of pointers. Things like how to feed the treats, being careful to pause before offering the treat so you don't dilute the power of the clicker, breaking things into small steps, etc. I decided to work today on having Chrome follow the target because he's already doing really well with touching it standing still at all different heights. I'm also still working on pairing the vocal cue, but I'm not sure if he knows it yet. Once I feel he has the hang of following the target I'm going to work on duration.

So I tricked Zeppelin into going in Chrome's stall where I could shut the gate. At first he looked annoyed that he'd been tricked, then he saw the huge bucket of hay all to himself and proceeded to completely ignore us LOL. I started out having Chrome touch the target with me holding it at arm's length. I concentrated on trying to put the target behind my back (after the click of course) before bringing the food bucket from behind my back (this prevents diluting the power of the click). He only seemed momentarily confused, but didn't try to mug me.

Once he had the hang of that I started walking away from him, still holding the target at arm's length (I'm using the tennis ball on the end of a dowel rod for a target). He followed me all over the pasture touching that target. It was so cute seeing him walk as fast as he could with his head stretched out toward the target lol. I was tempted to try getting him to trot, but that would have been adding in multiple criteria at one time and would have confused him.

After we'd done that a few times I noticed I wasn't giving him enough time to chew and he was dropping a lot trying to stuff his mouth full, so I put the target and the bucket behind my back between each touch to allow him to chew. At that point he started mugging me a bit, but I just ignored him until he turned his head away. That's when I realized I was inadvertently teaching him the 'Grownups are Talking' game. I finally put the target away and worked on that by itself. He caught on quick!! He had his head turned completely away from me before I could even get the bucket behind my back again! Then of course the reinforcements were coming so quickly again that he wasn't having time to chew (I was giving him tiny nibbles of his feed for each click, but he kept stuffing it into his mouth instead of chewing and swallowing lol) so I started walking around a bit to give him time to chew. Then I would stop and he would turn his head away and we'd repeat. :)

At the end of the session I sat the bucket on the ground for him to finish it off as his jackpot of sorts and was just holding on to it so he wouldn't dump it. After he grabbed a bite he actually turned his head away again waiting for the click without me even moving the bucket lol. I clicked for him and he turned his head back and finished eating his dinner. It was so cute he had to throw in that extra one lol.

Also I almost forgot to mention. In between each touch he was lifting his nose to my face for a kiss, so it's not going to be hard at all to teach him to give kisses! In fact I'm tempted to work on that one next. If anyone has trained it and knows any tips let me know. :) Sorry I got so wordy today. I was just excited and want to share my success. I'm going to try to have my husband video tape one of our sessions sometime so you all can see how we're doing. For now you'll have to read my long winded descriptions hehe. Later all!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Donkey Day - 4-24-2010

Zeppelin is slowly calming down day by day. He takes treats from me, lets me touch his face a little bit and doesn't flinch when I pass him while carrying hay or pulling the wagon. He still doesn't like being touched though. I haven't done any clicker training with him because I've been so busy (job change). I took these pictures last night just sitting in the barn with them watching the rain. :)

"You can't see me . . ."

Keeping his ear on me.

Look at Chrome eating out of the hay bucket on the other side of the fence. Dork.

I promise I will start working with them. I just need time to get things sorted out and some motivation lol.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clicker Training

I did a short clicker session with Chrome last night and I noticed two things.

Number one. He understands the click. As soon as I click he's looking for his treat. That's what I was waiting on. :)

Number two. He's bored with targeting. I can't blame him. I'm bored too.

Chrome will target high, low, toward his shoulder, toward his chest (he has difficulty with this one because he can't see it) and he follows it around. So now it's time to look in my Step-by-step Clicker Training for your Horse book by Alexandra Kurland to see where we need to move on. :) When I figure that out I'll update again. I am going to try to video tape some of our sessions, but if I don't please don't be mad at me lol.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gotta Love The Furminator!

I am not paid to endorse this product. I'm just sharing my experience. I wish my furminator had not gone missing for so long because it works GREAT on Chrome!! I took pictures as proof. :D

These next two shots are of Chrome's hairy (and curly which I love!) withers . . .

This is me running the Furminator through his fur for the first time. You may have to click to enlarge the image to see how much fur it's picking up.

These show how much fur it picks up after just a couple of strokes.

And here is the result after less than five minutes of brushing.

One with my boot in the picture for comparison (keep in mind I have big feet lol).

And his cute little withers after its all done. :D

Sorry the pictures are small. I accidentally had it on the medium picture size setting when I uploaded them. Oops. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Horse Festival

Last weekend I went to a horse festival about two or three hours away with a couple of friends. My main reason for going is because of a Friesian stallion that would be there. I enjoyed myself immensely and the show was great. The Friesian was gorgeous!! He was pretty green so he didn't do much and we all had to be quiet but I think everyone was speechless from his beauty anyway. :) I will be posting more pictures from the horse festival on my Farmer's Life blog when I have the time to edit them. I have no idea when that will be, but keep an eye out. :) Anyway, here are the pictures.

Can you believe that mane?! When his head is down it is past his knees! And his forelock is past his muzzle. Wow! I love this breed, not only for it's beauty, but also for it's temperament and intelligence. Someday I still hope to have a purebred, but even a purebred could never replace Chrome. I love that horse!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monthly Progress Report - 4-19-10

Date: 4-19-10
Age: 11 months
Height: 13.3 (55in/140cm)
Height Gain: As close as I can guess it was a smidge over half an inch.
Weight: Approx 620lbs (281.2kg)
Weight Gain: If my calculations are right it's only ten pounds which I have a hard time believing. I think I must have measured wrong last time (or this time!). Oh well. I tried twice and it said he's 620.

Progress: I wish weight tapes were more accurate, but I'm not worried about it. I think he's going to make 14 hands by the time he's a yearling so I'm happy lol!. I didn't really work with him much on clicker training like I wanted to, but I'm still reading the first book I got on clicker training. I think it's important to finish it because it goes in depth into the theory and I'm learning things I didn't know about the mechanics of clicker training. Once I finish that one I'll read the step by step guide and follow it.

Chrome did try to bite me the other day but Zep was biting him so I don't think he was really being ugly. He just forgot his manners for a minute. I chased him away, then caught him (easily), haltered him and worked with him for a bit to remind him to respect my space. He hasn't tried anything since.

Goals: My goal for this month is to finish reading my Alexandra Kurland books and start working on clicker training more consistently. I'm just going to have to force myself to get started because I can be lazy sometimes (especially when stressed or just busy) and I'm also a procrastinator lol. That's all I'm going to put down for my goals this month. :)

After I fed, groomed and measured I decided to take some updated pictures because I haven't posted any in almost a month! I can't believe how much gray he's getting in his coat.

If you look closely at the picture above you can see the short summer coat on his lower chest and the longer winter coat everywhere else. He's going to be gorgeous in his summer coat when he loses all of the brown winter fur. I can't wait to see it.

Approaching my husband.

I asked my husband to pull the wagon out into the pasture because it always gets Chrome stirred up. The silly colt can't resist an excuse to be silly. :)

Checking out the wagon (more like using it as an excuse to nibble my husband's hand).

Got an itch. What a stretch!

Next I got the rings out. They've been buried under the hay for a while so he was eager to play with them. :)

Trying to play with the rings and Jolly ball at the same time.

Chrome saw my husband carrying a rooster and had to check it out.

Whoa! What's that?!

And last I got out one of my Safechoice feed bags. We all know how much he loves playing with those. :D

I love these next pictures. I asked my husband to take the feed bag away from Chrome because he was getting hot and I didn't want him to overdo it. Chrome decided to sneak up behind him and take it back. :D

Running away with his prize.

I let him play with it a little longer.

I LOVE this next picture.

And this one.

This next one was blurry so I messed around with it in my photo editor. :)

Well that's all for today folks. Only one month to go before my boy is a year old!!

The End