Monday, January 31, 2011

Chrome Clicker Training Video

Okay I made this video for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to show his horrid treat taking manners. I tried to say ouch every time he snatched, but I don't think you can hear me say it every single time. You can still see how frequently he's doing it (I even felt teeth brush my hand for the first time). I've gotten several suggestions on resolving the behavior. One suggestion was to reach toward his face with nothing in my hand to teach him that just because my hand is approaching his face doesn't mean that I always have a treat. Another suggestion was to take away the treat if he snatches (I'll do this in it's own little session - it's about to get cold again anyway). When he takes it nicely he can have it. I think I'm going to use both of these. Let me know if you think of anything else.

The second reason was to show our progress. He's doing really good with backing and head lowering. The head lowering is sloppy, but I haven't increased the criteria yet. Also I wanted to mention that he will do it with or without my hand on his poll (I want him to know both cues) and my hand is just barely touching him (I'm not pushing down at all). With the backing I'm also barely touching his chest.

I worked on whoa a couple of times, but my timing is off with the cue, click and treat. Normally my treat delivery is a LOT smoother, but the jacket I normally wear was in the wash and this one has tiny pockets, so I was having problems with it lol. I need to work on whoa some more.

The yielding of the haunches is a new thing. I've worked on it ONE other time! I honestly was not expecting him to remember it at all. He did so well and I was barely touching him. I love when I first switched sides he tried to go the way he's used to going, but quickly figured it out. I was just reading about that in my Clicker Training Colt Starting the Natural Horse book by Leslie Pavlich. :) It was cool seeing something she mentioned happening. :) It's a good book. Her style of writing takes a bit to get used too, because she's not normally a writer and originally wrote the book as her own personal training manual (it can get a little repetitive, but I just skim through that stuff), but once you get used to it the book is fantastic! I think it will help with Zep a lot because it talks about working with colts who have never been touched.

Anyway I think those were the only things I wanted to mention. My favorite parts of the video are where Chrome chases Zep off because I gave him one of his treats and the part where I almost ran over Zep. That scared me because I had no idea he was there! It's funny watching him follow me around and I don't ever remember being aware he was there. I think that's part of what is helping him get used to me. I'm going to post a Zeppelin specific video on my Farmer blog tomorrow. It is SOOOO cute so you have to check it out. Anyway, enjoy the video and let me know what I can do to improve our training sessions. Thanks in advance guys!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Day Off & A Question

I had full intention to work with Chrome today, but because the weather was so beautiful we were doing some much needed remodeling on the chicken coop and it got too late. :( I was even going to video tape the session today. If it isn't raining tomorrow I will tape some then.

Also while we were gathering tools for the remodel we left the pasture gate pulled to but not latched. I didn't think anything of it because the horses were eating. A few minutes later Zeppelin started running back and forth in the lease land and braying. Turns out Chrome had let himself out of the pasture and wandered off down the road!!! It scared me so bad. As soon as he saw me he walked right up to me and let me put the halter on him. I'm glad I've walked him on the roads so much so he knew not to get run over by a vehicle or to wander off into the neighbors' yards. Whew! From now on I'm always latching the gate even if I'm only walking across the yard and back.

ETA: I forgot to mention that I'm now feeding Chrome in a big barrel instead of a bucket. I'm hoping that it will slow him down and make him learn to use his lips better (so that he will take treat gently), but I'm not sure, because he still bites down into the feed with his teeth. We shall see. If anything it slows him down more and that's always a good thing. My question is, should I raise it off the ground at all? He's used to eating about a foot off the ground. Here are some pictures. Let me know!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day Off

We took the day off because I didn't get around to doing anything with him until right before dinner and he didn't want to pay attention. It probably also had something to do with the fact that I was too close to the feed shed. He was too busy running Zeppelin off to focus on me. Oh well. Everyone can use a day off. To read about why I was so busy check out my main blog. It's exciting! :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Taking the clicker on the road . . .

. . . and it didn't go so great. I mean it wasn't exactly bad or anything, but not great. We're having two problems. One, he's getting grabby with the treats again. It's like he doesn't know how to just lip them up out of my palm. He has to open his whole gaping mouth and try to inhale my whole hand. What to do? What to do? Two, he gets too excited and has no focus (probably because he's not even two years old).

This was his first time with the clicker while walking on the roads. It went okay, but I really don't think he's quite ready for it. He was completely distracted and unfocused. It was as bad as last night when he was spooked and couldn't pay attention.

I went out onto the lease land to get him and while we were walking back to the house we worked on following at my shoulder and stopping with my hand on his chest as a cue. He does the stops well when I'm on his right side, but not so well on his left. We need to practice more on that.

Before taking him out of the pasture I worked on head lowering again, which he did perfectly. We haven't built any duration in yet, but he's going almost all the way to the ground.

Then we went out onto the road. I clicked him for walking through the mud puddle in my drive way and for walking by my side on the road. He gets excited and wants to walk ahead of me (which is my fault because I've let him for so long so that I could take pictures) so we worked on stops some more. Once again he did well on my left, not so well on my right. We just started working on them though so I'm not worried about that.

I noticed on the road that he wasn't really listening to the click (which is how I know he wasn't paying attention), but instead would stop when he saw my hand with the treat, then he would inhale my hand and the treat. Somehow I managed not to get bit again. I've got to teach him to take treats politely but I don't know how! He's not mugging, he's just opening his mouth too wide. I'm wondering if feeding him his regular meals in a large flat bucket would help because then he wouldn't be able to bite down into it and would have to use his lips more. Any suggestions?

I made it halfway down the hill by my house when the UPS guy stopped so I turned and trotted back to the house. Then we went the other way because that's the way we've been going and I was hoping he would be calmer. Unfortunately Zep was following us along the fence in the lease land and that wasn't helping with Chrome's focus. I should have kept going down the main road instead of the dead end road but it was getting dark.

I worked on stopping a bit more and I also clicked him any time he put his head down while walking. He figured that one out fast!! Eventually I decided to go back because I was getting low on treats and it was getting too dark to see. When I got back to the pasture I worked on head down again, but I only clicked when he angled his head away from me (because he has a tendency to put it down real fast and then swing it back up toward me for the treat - I'm trying to only feed it to him with his head away from me though).

After that I called it a day because it was dark and I had a long day at work. To hear about how Zeppelin did tonight check out my main blog for details. :) Sorry I didn't get any pictures.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Attention

I met my husband and a friend after work at a burned down warehouse to salvage some free wood (we have permission). It was almost dark when I finally got home so I just planned to do a really short session. Chrome was really spooked about something out on the lease land. He didn't even want to come up into the paddock until I went out to him. He was galloping and trotting around, totally spooked. I couldn't figure out what it was even though I walked all around the thicket in the direction he was looking. I have no idea what it was.

He was having trouble concentrating so I just did a quick review of head lowering and backing, from in front and the side. He was snatching at the treats and just not settling down at all. I started to work on some hindquarter yields, but after two tries I knew that just wasn't going to happen tonight. So I fed him and I'll try again tomorrow when he's calmer and more focused.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Clicker

I did a really quick session with Chrome after work because my coworker was late. I worked on head down from both sides with and without my hand on his poll. I also worked on backing with me standing beside him, facing forward. And I worked on his whoa, using my hand on his chest as a cue. Other than accidentally taking my finger for a treat he did fantastic!!!

I didn't work on much because it was getting dark and he was doing so well I didn't really know what else to work on. I need to get the target out to refresh that. I also need to work on adding vocal cues to everything. Tomorrow since he's doing so well on the head lowering I'll probably put a halter on him so he learns it to halter pressure. Then I'll work on getting his head all the way to the ground . . . then eventually add duration. I'm so happy with how quickly he
s progressing. :) I love my colt!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clicker Training

I did Clicker with Chrome this evening after work. I went armed with only the clicker and a pocketful of treats. He did so well! He's started slobbering when he's eating the treats which is kind of gross, but he's taking them well. He still drops them sometimes and lunges at my hand but he isn't biting or anything.

First I worked on having him look away while I was standing on his left side, because we've been doing that only on his right side lately. He was confused at first and was curling his cute little neck around to see if I had anything. Once he figured it out he was great.

Then I decided to work on head lowering with my hand on his poll because I was just shaping it yesterday. Once I get him doing it well for my hand I'll put the halter on and do it that way too. The one thing I've learned from my books is that the more different ways you teach a behavior the more reliable it will me. It's almost like proofing for dogs.

Anyway he did awesome!!! He was going so fast he couldn't even finish his treat before he had earned his next one. I got him almost to the ground again. About six inches. I'll work on getting the last bit later. It was cold so I didn't really want to stand around anymore lol.

Then I worked on whoa. I was walking and would say whoa just before stopping, but he doesn't remember the word so he was stopping about two or three steps past me. I was clicking him if he stopped with me by his barrel (although I really want to be at his shoulder), but not if I was by his haunches, especially if they were turned toward me. In hindsight I realize he needs a cue, so next time I'll touch his chest as the cue (and add the vocal cue later). :) That's one thing I love about clicker training. You can hardly mess up. :)

Then I worked on backing. He did one step at a time and was fairly good at it. Zep was distracting him a bit though. That could be a problem when we start working on more complicated things. It was distracting me too!!! Those cute little donkey eyes begging for a treat . . . melt my heart. Then I stood by Chrome's left side, facing forward, and put my hand on his chest to have him back alongside me. He did great the first couple of times, but then he started paying too much attention to Zep so I called it quits there. I did his head lowering a couple more times to end on a good note. :)

While I was talking to my husband, standing next to Chrome, I looked back and Zep was standing like right on my heels!!! I was so proud of him. My husband took the rest of my treats and fed them to Zeppelin, but only if he let him touch his face first. :) Good donkey. So all in all a fantastic session!! I can't wait to work on it more tomorrow. Especially on the whoa, although I think I need to work on backing a little more first. He's really rusty on that for some reason. I would have expected him to remember it since he does it so well at dinner time. We will see how it goes. Maybe I can get a little more organized and stop being all over the place.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Finally! Clicker Training!

I went out to take Chrome for a walk and was going to use one of the gates on the lease land instead of walking all the way back to the house, but I completely forgot we put a padlock on it and I didn't have the keys with me. Feeling lazy I decided not to walk back to the house so I worked with him out in the pasture. I clicked him a few times for walking at my shoulder then decided to work on "Grownups are Talking" (I hope you don't mind me linking to your video Mary) and head lowering, so I wrapped the lead around his neck (that way I didn't have to carry it and it wasn't dragging the ground).

He did grownups perfectly, then I started withholding the click and he started lowering his head. I was so excited! He did great! I got him to about six inches from the ground. :) Eventually I got bored and decided to move on so I worked on getting him to trot.

I started walking and clicked him for being at my shoulder. Then I started trotting. I got ahead of him, then he trotted, I clicked, stopped, he caught up and I gave him the treat. It was so cute how he trotted all the way to me and skidded to a stop with his head tucked to get his treat. :) I wish I had it on video.

He quickly caught on to this game (and LOVED it) and started trotting in place waiting for me to trot. We did that for a bit, but he was going too fast so I worked on halts. He didn't do very well with those at all! I need to get those down really well before I work on trotting again because he gets too excited. I'm still proud of him though considering it's our first session in months.

After I ran out of treats I was running around with him just letting him get some exercise. He would gallop past me then turn and sort of hop around in place (no where near me). It was so cute. When I got too far he finally got bored, turned and charged at Zep. They fought (played) a bit then Zep ran away. Poor guy. I can't tell if Chrome is starting to bully him a bit. As long as Chrome will leave him alone when he trots away I'll leave them alone. Chrome isn't a mean horse so I don't think it should be a problem. I'll just keep an eye on them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Walk

I took Chrome for a walk, the full two miles this time. He was very alert and excited at the beginning because it was so cold, a little windy and I guess because it had been so long. He was crowding into me when walking on my right. We had a bit of a disagreement over that, but nothing major. He just met my elbow a couple of times lol. My husband tried to go with me so he could take some pictures, but his back was hurting too bad and we set a fast pace (I love a horse who walks out with energy).

Chrome was being a bit pushy around the neighbor's horses, but he was still listening. We trotted a little after we had passed them because I wanted to get warmer. When I was tired he came right back down to an energetic and obedient walk. He was pretty "looky" through the whole walk, but not exactly spooky.

When we got to my neighbor's house (a mile down the road) he was interested in the cattle but not scared. He did spook a little at a sign hanging from a gate by the gravel road, but not really big or anything and it's only because I picked it up so it would bang against the metal gate. I did it was few more times until he didn't react. When we finally headed back he was yawning. He wanted to graze (I wouldn't let him) and I think that's what it was about. He quit pretty quick.

When we got about a third of the way back he started to lag a bit. It was also starting to rain and I don't know if it was that or because he was tired. It was really annoying me, but I didn't force the issue. When I got my neighbor's with the horses (about two thirds of the way back) I called my husband and asked him to bring me my raincoat (rain was getting heavier) and to take my camera so it wouldn't get wet. Chrome was impatient while I switched coats. Then he was a brat about not wanting to go because of the other horses. We had a slight disagreement (I swung the rope at his haunches to get him to walk on, but he would stop again when I caught up with him), but he did eventually start walking next to me when he realized I wasn't going to give up and probably because we got far enough past the other horses that he lost interest.

By the time we got back to the house he was walking calmly at my shoulder again. I was so proud of him so I went to get some treats (yeah I know I should have taken them with me). As soon as he realized I had treats he started mugging me so I ignored him. He actually looked away!!!! He also lowered his head some. It was awesome considering we hadn't done any clicker training since last summer. :D I was so proud that he actually remembered his lessons.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chrome's Monthly Progress Report

** The picture is really bad. It was too dark to not use flash, but flash looks horrible. He is really butt high right now (more than it appears in this picture because his left rear foot is forward) so I'm betting he's starting another growth spurt. He's been looking so gangly lately.

Date: 1-19-11
Age: 20 months
Height: 14.3¾hh
Height Gain: Only a quarter of an inch this time. So much for him making 15hh this month lol. Oh well, he'll get there. There's no hurry.
Weight: The weight tape still said 810lbs. Hmm.
Weight Gain: I'm not convinced the weight tape is accurate, but it said he didn't gain any weight at all this month. It did finally get really cold this month so I guess it could be that, since he's using more energy to stay warm. I'm not too worried about it. He looks great and that's what matters. :)

Progress: Ugh, I didn't really get anything productive done this month. I did work on some desensitizing and went walking, but that's about it. It was cold this month and I've been busy so I'm not too worried about it.

Goals: I still want to work on softening exercises, specifically yielding. I want to do more walking. I want to start clicker training again, but that will depend on how cold it is. Operating a clicker is difficult when its cold! :) That's all for this month.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Walk

I took Chrome for a walk as soon as I got home from work. We went on our two mile route although I cut it a little short (didn't feel like walking up the big hill lol). I haven't been walking in a while so I'm out of shape. He did fantastic. He only spooked once at a stump, but it was more just googly eyes and he was perfectly willing to walk right to it.

He wanted to see the horses so he hit the end of his rope a few times and trotted a little bit. As soon as I said whoa or easy he went back into a calm walk. He had a very eager, fast walk the whole time except for a tiny bit as we passed the horses for the first time he wanted to lag behind. He was interested in the cattle, but not spooky. He did fantastic with vehicles. He barely even looked at them. He only stopped five or six times to looks at things (Zep, horses, cattle, trash can). I give my boy an A++. Sorry I didn't take my camera. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Umbrella Work

I tried working with Chrome on backing away from his hay but he didn't generalize it at ALL! When he's in his stall and I'm feeding him he will back all the way to the fence, but when we're in the open side of the barn (Zep's stall) in front of the hay he just didn't get it at all. It's like he completely forgot how to back on. To be fair we really didn't work on backing all that much I don't think. I really need to work on backing some more with the clicker so he's working for a reward instead of being kept away from something he wants (the hay). He's still doing great in his stall for dinner though. He backs all the way to the fence and has even started to pause.

I also worked with him with the umbrella (but no clicker or treats). I wasn't as patient or thorough as I should have been but it was freezing cold and snowing. I guess what I learned from the whole thing is that clicker training sure makes desensitizing so much easier and a lot more fun for Chrome. I messed with him until I could touch him all over with the umbrella closed, swing it around his head closed, swing it in front of him open, hold it over his head open and touch his back with it open. I think with clicker we could have been a lot more thorough and he would have been a lot more relaxed, but for a quick session I think he did really good. You can see pictures and read more about it on my main blog here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Training Updates

I know I said I was condensing down to one blog, but I realized that when I start working with Chrome and Zeppelin daily I'd be posting nothing but their training progress on my main blog and that's just not going to work. So what I'm going to do is keep posting about them on my main blog along with everything else, but also post about their training sessions here. :) So for you horse fanatics, donkey fanatics and clicker training fanatics you can come here and read about our progress with clicker training. Enjoy!