Monday, February 28, 2011

First Time Wearing a Surcingle!

I bought a surcingle today and was very excited to try it out. I went to get Chrome out on the lease land. He walked right up to me and let me halter him, then we started walking toward the house. He was impatient and excited so he walked really fast and then tried to cut me off. His face actually bumped my nose, so I used my elbow to bump him in the neck. That got his attention and he stayed out of my space.

When we got to the house I decided to tie him to a tree for a while to teach him some patience. At first he was pulling back to test the rope, but never hard enough to damage anything or spook himself. It was funny watching him actually because you could tell he wasn't scared, he was just testing the rope to see if he could get loose. He always stepped forward off the pressure in a second though.

I took some pictures while he tried to tangle himself in the trees (there is a line of pine and cedar in front of my house by the road). Eventually he gave up and chilled out. Then I spent some time grooming him and cleaning his hooves (oops I forgot to work on picking up hooves with clicker). After grooming I got the surcingle out.

Getting tangled in the trees lol.

I let him target it a few times, then rubbed it on his shoulder, then along his back and haunches. I clicked for any signs of relaxation and obviously for standing still with slack in the rope. Then I pulled the surcingle up under his belly, clicked, dropped it and treated. Then I buckled it on the last hole. I slowly moved it up the holes until I got it as small as it would go. Unfortunately I could still stick my hand between his belly and the surcingle, but he'll grow into it.

Asking him to back out of my space (to put slack in the rope).

A treat for targeting the surcingle.
Sorry I look like a hoodlum in the muck boots and toboggan hat. ;)

Touching him with the surcingle for the first time.

Once I had it snug I untied him and led him around. I clicked him for walking in it. His head came up for a second, but he quickly relaxed. We walked up and down the road and I even had him trot several times (which I clicked for since he hasn't officially learned to trot in hand). He didn't seem uncomfortable, spooked or resistant. I was so proud of him!

It was getting late so the pictures were blurry.
This is right after I asked him to smile and was giving him a treat for it. :)

After that I took the surcingle off and worked on head down. This time I let the rope hang on the ground and put my foot on it, sliding it under my foot to control the slack. He quickly realized he had to put his head down and keep it down. I don't understand why he dislikes head lowering so much. Maybe it's because he can be a little high strung or maybe it's his high head/neck set. He does it easily, he just doesn't seem to like it. I don't know but we will keep working on it.

Then I got out his orange cone (which I screwed to a piece of board to make it stand up better). I set it down and let him touch it a few times. He was chewing on it and even picked it up once. I started holding the clicker by his head because he was ignoring it by my side. He FINALLY started paying attention and would turn to me as soon as I clicked.

Then I moved the cone and walked away. He walked to the cone, touched it, I clicked and he walked to me. Then he went back to the cone! By the end I was standing about ten feet from the cone, pointing, saying touch, he'd walk to it, touch it, I would click and he would come to me for his treat! Too cool. Did I mention all of this was done in the driveway again?

For the cone work I'd tied his rope around his neck so it wouldn't drag and we could have some distance between us. I carried the cone to my car and put it up. He followed me. Then I grabbed my new feed scoop (I broke my old one) out of the car and held it up to him. He took it in his mouth and I asked him to follow me. He followed me all the way back to the pasture. He carried it about six or eight yards before he dropped it. I don't think it will be a problem to teach him to carry things. I was so proud of him for following me all the way into the pasture without me ever touching him. Such a good boy!

And wait, it gets even better. I fed them and waited for Zep to finish. He saw my husband and walked to him for a visit. Then I got the target out and he followed me around, touching it for clicks. I did some with me facing him and some with him behind me. He's still leery about walking up behind me. Then I pet his face for clicks. I inched my way up his face and ears. I only got about an inch up each ear, but we will get there.

Then I told him all done and put up his target. He followed me all the way to the feed shed so I clicked. Then I started walking to the pasture gate, fully expecting him to stay with Chrome. He followed me, without a target, at a TROT and stayed within about four feet of me! It was so cool! He followed me all over, trotting a couple of times. It was so cute! I love that he's finally wanting to follow me and be near me. He never follows me all of the way to the gate, but he did today. :)

Below is a video of my putting the surcingle on Chrome for the first time ever. :) It's about seven minutes long and shows me trotting him in hand too. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Break Today

I didn't do any clicker today. I left early this morning to go on a short road trip. Well it was an eight hour round trip on only five hours of sleep. I had fun though. I'll get back to work tomorrow. I'm off from my "real" job so I plan on spending all day with Chrome. :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Short Clicker Session

A cute baby Chrome picture from 2009.

I just did a short session (for a lot of reasons e.g. cold, headache, time, etc) with Chrome. I'll work with Zeppelin tomorrow when I hopefully feel better. I asked Chrome to smile three times and he did really well. Then I started working on "leave it" even though he took the treats nicely for smile (I need to start doing leave it first). He tried to grab at my hand with his teeth so I got after him. I didn't hit him, but I did chase him away.

He circled the barn and came right back to me. That time when I held my hand out he started offering head down all by himself so I clicked and treated. I'm hoping that by working on leave it that I will have a cue for stopping the biting (once I add a cue lol) and that he will be forced to start listening for the click. To make this work I have to be sure not to ever feed him treats of any kind without a click. I'm hoping gelding him will help a little with the mouthiness, but I know this will help.

After that I worked on his lateral flexion because it was something easy and quick and I just wanted to go in and lay down with an ice pack on my head. He did really well. I've also discovered that Zeppelin has learned to open Chrome's stall and chase him away from his food, so now I have to actually lock the stall gate instead of pushing it to. Now Chrome can't let himself out of his stall when he's done and I have to set a timer and go let him out. Thank goodness it's warming up fast around here lol.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Clicker & Desensitization - Good Job!

My husband asking for the smile.

I started out working on smile a little bit. He does it perfectly already. I'm totally shocked with how quickly he learned it. :)

Then I worked on targeting his orange cone. He did fantastic with that, but was trying to take the treats with his teeth again instead of his lips, so I tried something new. I worked on "leave it" like you would with a dog. Basically I held the treat in a closed fist and offered my hand to him. He would lip and nibble at my fist. If he tried to use teeth I did bop him for it. Then when he moved his mouth away from my hand about two inches I clicked and opened my fist so he could have the treat. Obviously it isn't cured in one session, but I do think this is going to help. He was taking it with his lips after the click so maybe this will teach him to pay attention to what he's doing with his mouth. :)

Taking the treat with his teeth . . . naughty!

Taking the treat nicely. Good boy!

After that I worked on targeting the plastic bag. He was doing his gorgeous arched neck again, but targeting it easily, so I touched it to his body. He didn't much like it, but he didn't move. Within a minute or two he was standing quietly letting me touch him all over the back, sides, haunches and shoulders. When I had it on his back he even did his lateral flex trying to touch it. It was too cute.

Then I put it between his legs. He was fine until it touched his rear legs then he struck out, crow hopped and lunged away from it. Oops. The second time he just picked up his foot so I went ahead and clicked. The third time he stood there. I held it between his legs, not touching for a few clicks, then I touched the backs of his front legs for a few clicks then I finally touched the fronts of his rear legs for a few clicks. Last I touched the back of his rear legs with it. He was totally fine by this time.

Next I put it on his neck and head. It was too funny when I put it on his head he automatically did his head lowering. :D It was cute. And I realized with the extra length the whip gives me he can't pull his head away (we were doing all of this at liberty with no halter or lead). I ended the session on a really good head lower where he kept it down for a second instead of popping back up. Good boy.

Then I worked with Zeppelin. He followed the target around and I worked on having him take the treat higher up instead of me leaning all the way to the ground. I'm so thankful he takes treats gently lol. Then I worked on petting his head again. He was fine on the forehead but didn't really want me touching the sides of his face. I really think it was because I was wearing gloves so I'll leave it alone until it warms back up and I can use my bare hands. My reaction time will be a bit quicker then too. :) Well that's all with the boys today.

We were feeding sweet tart candies and he loved them. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clicker & Desensitization

I was looking through my Pavlich book and decided to write down the worksheets to see what we've worked on and what we haven't. I quickly realized the things I'd skipped. Yikes!

We have target, not mugging, hindquarter yields, touching the whole body, haltering, backing, and cleaning the feet out, but we've missed desensitizing with bags, flags, tarps, etc., walking to me from light pressure on the lead rope (basically a recall), touching scary objects and straddling the legs for trimming. And to think I was ready to move on to forequarter yields, etc. It's no wonder he gets impatient with the farrier since I've never worked on straddling the leg. So I definitely want to work on those things before I move on.

Since I didn't have a lot of time before work I decided to work on touching scary objects (Alexandra Kurland's Goblins Game), smile and also a new target object (small orange cone). I first did smile a few times with me in the pasture with him and he did them well. He was still trying to walk too close to me though. The smile is really nice though. It's not a lazy effort lol.

Chrome was being really pushy and ugly about the treats so when he grabbed with teeth I bopped him in the teeth/lips with my hand. It startled him, but he didn't leave me. After that he stopped snatching. I think it's just a patience thing and considering he's a two year old, not to mention he hasn't been gelded left and I've been letting him get away with it, it's not really a surprise. It's something we can work on.

After that I got out my regular target (tennis ball on a dowel rod) and did a few touches to make sure he was thinking target. Then I got out the small orange cone. I had him touch it while it was in my hand first. He did that easily and was trying to bite it so I put it on the ground. Again he was trying to bite it and pick it up so after a couple of clicks I stopped clicking for biting it. He lost interest when he didn't get a click so I hung it on a fence post. That time he was touching it without biting. I did it a few times and then put it away.

Next I pulled out a whip with a plastic grocery bag tied to the end of it. He was nervous! He was arching his neck, spooking in place and doing his scared snort. It took him about half a minute to touch it with his neck all stretched out as far away as he could get from it. It was totally cute. I clicked him a few times for barely touching it and then waited a second until he touched it hard enough for it to crinkle. He started a little at the noise but didn't move. Within two minutes of following and touching it he was relaxing and touching it easily. :) I was proud of him for facing his fear. I'll probably do another session of following and touching it and then I'll move on to touching his body with it.

I also worked with Zeppelin on target again. I was having him follow me around again and I discovered something interesting. He does not like to approach me from behind (probably because Chrome has been backing into him to claim space by the feed shed)! He isn't too fond of approaching from the side either. He likes to walk up to me directly from the front. Also when I'm leaning down to give him the treat he doesn't act scared at all anymore.

I worked on having him follow the target and to approach from behind. In the end I had him following behind me slightly to my right, touching the target when I stopped and then I would twist my body around to give his treat.

After doing that for as long as I could take it (a bit boring lol) I put the target up and approached him. I stopped at about ten feet away and stood still waiting. He watched me for a minute or two (that can feel like forever!) and then walked up to me and stopped about a foot or two away (about where the target would be). I clicked and gave him a treat. Then I tried petting his forehead and I don't think he saw it coming because he spooked in place. I was so proud of him for not running away though. I squatted down on my heels like I normally do and worked on petting his forehead, click, treat. He was letting me scratch his forehead and poll instead of just running my hand down his face. When I finished I told him 'all done' and put my stuff away. While I was standing by the chicken coop talking to my husband about the chickens Zep just stood there watching me the whole time (a fence separated us). :D

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More Clicker & Continuous Shooting on my Camera

I did a short clicker session with Zeppelin. This time I stayed standing up and had him walk to touch the target. He sniffed my hand and the length of the stick, but you could tell he knew he was supposed to touch the ball and was just exploring. He followed me around the pasture happily. I didn't do it long because I was developing a headache.

I played with Chrome out in the pasture before breakfast and hopefully got some awesome pictures lol. I've finally discovered the continuous shooting function on my camera (after having it for two years lol) and it's so great for those movement shots. On the normal auto setting I could get maybe one shot per trot and it was never the right stride. With this function can get about fifteen per trot and they are great. The quality obviously isn't the best, but still very cool.

We had fun playing at liberty together. He was trying his hardest to stay right next to me. He'd get irritated when I'd change direction, sneaking away and would shake his head at me. He also arched his neck and trotted in place next to me. It was so cute! We played in the pond a bit too and he actually offered the smile on his own without a cue. :) When we walked back up to the barn I asked him for the smile once and he did it. I got pictures of it too. :D

A little while later we were outside petting Chrome and talking. I was standing beside him with my arms over his back just petting him. Then on a whim I asked my husband for a leg up. He boosted me across Chrome's back on my stomach. I lay across his back for about a minute. While up there I was rubbing him on the other side. He thought I was tickling him asking for a lateral flex, so he wrapped his head around, touched his side and then started looking for his treat. He was so cute.

He didn't seem bothered by my weight at all! He didn't act concerned in the least. He never tried to move, he wasn't tense or anything. I was so afraid when I laid across his back for the first time that I would break him lol, but he felt big, solid and steady. Even at fifteen hands he feels a good size (although I can't be totally sure because I didn't sit up), so even if he doesn't make it to sixteen hands I won't be upset. :) I can't wait to sit on him for the first time, but I won't be doing that until he's three. So I'm proud of my boys. :)

Anyway here are some more pictures.

I had the camera a little tilted, but it was cute how he was shaking his head hehe.

I think this is the best one for stepping under himself,
but I hope he develops more reach when we get the hock
soreness taken care of.

He really has some nice knee action when he's showing off. :)

Another showing his knee action and arched neck. I love this shot.

And some really cute 'almost' smile pictures lol.

He actually did smile when I asked him, but with the continuous shooting I got some really cute half smiles hehe. He hasn't refused to do it or acted confused at all.

And here are some galloping sequence pictures.

And chasing the donkey lol.

Then he had to play with the goat. :D

And back to the donkey.

Well, that's all for today. :D

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clicker With Both Equine

I worked with Chrome outside of the pasture in a halter so that Zeppelin wouldn't get in our way. I also wanted to see if he could do his tricks in a more distracting environment. Considering the distractions and the fact that we worked right before breakfast again he did fabulous.

First I worked on smile. I watched some videos on YouTube and decided I wanted to go ahead and try it without the target. No sense in letting it become a crutch. I used the target twice to make sure he knew what we were working on and then dropped it behind me and held my hand up toward his face. He immediately smiled! I was so proud of him. I did it four or five times and he did very well. He seemed to be holding his lip up longer too I guess because he wasn't distracted by the target. And to think I was worried about getting the behavior without the use of the target stick. :)

Next I worked on backing with a rope wiggle. He did well on it with a small wiggle and only backed crooked once. Then I worked on lateral flexion. He was doing them perfectly without me even having to tickle his side. Silly boy. He enjoys that one I think. He's definitely stiffer on his right side. I guess he's left handed . . . err hoofed.

Next I worked on hindquarter yields. I simply wanted to do it once on each side to make sure he doesn't forget how to do them, but he did it so well I did it a few times on each side. I guess taking a break was a good thing. He didn't cross his hoof under his belly sometimes, but I'm not too worried about that since I think it's do to soreness in the hock. He wanted to look at me, but after I reminded him he kept his neck straight. He did turn to face me though. I'll have to figure out how to fix that. It's not that big of a deal though.

Next we walked around a bit. I only clicked once for following me, but after that I don't really have to reward for it. He's really good at lining himself up and staying in position. I focused on whoa and he didn't do so well. He was blowing through the chest cue to whoa, which I can hardly blame him since we were going toward the road. He probably really wanted to go for a walk. It only took one or two reminders with the lead rope for him to listen to my hand on his chest. I just realized I only worked on his left side though . . . oops.

Then I did some backing while standing next to him. He didn't want to listen, but I got a couple of good ones and moved on. I also stood facing him and asked him to back with the hand cue, not the rope wiggle, and he did it perfectly.

Next I worked on head lowering. It wasn't going well at all. He was acting like a yoyo and also pulling his head out of my reach, so I decided to use the target. As he lowered his head I moved the target slowly out of his reach so he couldn't chew on it and clicked for his head being down. After a few repetitions of that I tried my hand again and he did okay, but not fantastic. I think I'm going to start working on it with him between me and a building so he can't turn his head away from me. If I can get him to stop evading I'll be able to work on duration. After he did it okay I ended the session with him.

I fed them and then worked with Zeppelin. I positioned myself by my tree and waited. He was licking the crumbs out of his bucket and watching me. I eventually got tired of waiting and stood up to go to him which dumped my treats onto the ground. While I was picking up the treats he came up behind me. Silly donkey.

We worked on touching the target. In the first session I was holding the target to his left. Today I worked on both sides. When I first put it on the right side of his face he was very wary. He quickly calmed though and did it perfectly switching sides each time. I of course grew bored with the target so I started making one stroke with my hand down his forehead, clicking while my hand was touching him (the noise near his face didn't bother him at all) and gave a treat as I removed my hand. He did really well. I was so proud of him. Hopefully soon I will be able to touch his whole body with a whip and then my hand. :) That's all for today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Zeppelin's First Clicker Training Session! With Video!

I had my first clicker training session with Led Zeppelin this morning! He did so great. He's still nervous and sometimes shies away if I move too quickly, but he gets more and more comfortable around us everyday. I have a video to show you because it's easier than explaining it, but in case you can't watch videos I do have a couple of pictures. We worked on target because target is the best way to "charge" the clicker with our equine friends. He very quickly figured out that the target turns me into a vending machine. You can see in the video how quickly he figures that out. Now I'll just wait for him to recognize the clicker. It took Chrome quite a few sessions before his ears started pricking at the sound of the click, so it might take a few days with the donkey. I have to say though I think Zep might possibly be smarter than Chrome . . . is that a bad mommy thing to say? :D

Propping up against the tree puts me closer to his level and so less threatening.

*Click* He quickly learned how to earn his treats. :)

And now for you clicker training fanatics that have high speed internet here is the incredibly long, boring video hehe. At the end Zep checks out the camera man (my husband). It's cute, so try to hang in there lol.

And since this is Chrome's blog I will mention that we had a quick clicker session before supper, working on smile. He did pretty well considering he had his mind on supper and was a bit distracted. I still have no idea how to go about fading the target . . . At one point I accidentally let him bump the target and he immediately started looking for his treat even though I didn't click, so I don't know if he knows it's the lip I'm looking for yet . . . I'll keep plugging away. Maybe it's time to look for a YouTube video on teaching smile with a target stick. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Lady

I think I mentioned that today I was going to see my little Appaloosa mare that I had for twelve years when I was a kid. I haven't seen her in years and I've been missing her a lot, so I called up her owner last week and asked to visit. Of course he didn't mind. :) I was blown away by how much older she looks. Then again she is twenty one years old lol. She's kind of stuck in my mind like she was in our younger days. She's also not alpha mare anymore, which was very strange because she was always the bossy, stubborn, snotty mare when I was a kid, but I loved her so much (still do). When I went to see her today I actually started crying as I hugged her warm neck. I just can't believe how small she is (fourteen hands seems so small now lol) or how old or how gray. I enjoyed my visit a lot. Unfortunately I didn't get to ride because of other reasons, but he invited me back anytime to go riding. This is the same guy that married me to my husband. :) A great family friend.

Anyway here is a picture of Lady seven years ago . . .

She does have a tail lol, it was just behind her.

And here is a picture of her today . . .

Sorry not the greatest picture, but it's the only one of her with her head up. :)

The next two pictures show how gray her face has gotten.

And a couple of her grazing.

And below are some pictures from 2004.

I've missed my pretty Lady. It was so nice to get to see her again. I had been feeling guilty for giving her up (even though at the time I had no choice) and was feeling like I had "replaced" her with Chrome, but I feel better now. She's happy with her herd and his grand kids are learning how to ride on her. She even taught a bunch of Japanese foreign exchange students how to ride! It was the one thing they wanted to try before they went home so I'm happy she gave them the opportunity to ride. :) I'm proud of my girl.

And because this is Chrome's blog and I love him to pieces, here is a picture from yesterday. :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chrome's Monthly Progress Report

Date: 2-19-11
Age: 21 months
Height: 15hh ¼in (60.25inches)
Height Gain: He grew half an inch.
Weight: Approximately 830lbs.
Weight Gain: Approximately 20lbs.

Progress: Yay, he made fifteen hands! I did a bunch of clicker training. I did work on hindquarter yields like I wanted to. I also worked on head lowering and lateral flexion, which I think would be considered softening. I'd say this month was a success. We didn't do much walking, but we had lots of fun with the clicker training and growing apparently. :)

Goals: I want to continue working on clicker training. I won't put anything specific because there's no telling what I will decide I want to work on. I would like to get some more walking done and maybe a bath. I guess that's all for this month since I don't know what the weather will be like.

And for fun here is a video we took this morning of Chrome working on smile. :)