Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Evening in the Roundpen

This evening, I planned to play with Guinness at liberty in the roundpen.

First, I put the three nags in my backyard to mow for about an hour. Then I dished out dinner, and went to bring them back in. After they finished, I let Smokey into the "sacrifice lot" and then let G out into the field and locked the gate. This kept the other guys away, and G's belly was full, which left his mind free to focus on me.

I've had some time over the past few days to review Alexandra Kurland's clicker training book again. Lots of ideas jumped out at me, and I decided to play with a few this evening:
  • using my fist as the target for him to bump his nose on
  • teaching him to "freeze" when I hold my hand up like a policeman saying "stop"
  • using "ok" as a release word
  • having him arch his neck and hold his lips *away* from me to get his treat
  • retrieving a rope from the ground
He caught on to all of these ideas really quickly (most weren't totally new to him). Nothing like a Cheerio for motivation!

I also "dosed him" with some molasses in a dewormer syringe. He was thrilled. Soon he will be mugging me for syringes to put into his mouth!

We alternated intense clicker-training moments with circling at liberty. Guinness did some amazing backing (fast, straight, and about 30' away) with very intense focus on me. However, he was a bit skeptical about returning back to me (targeting my fist & treating helped to overcome it). I also consciously increased our dwell time in proportion to how much effort he put into the task. There was a good bit of licking & chewing.

His sends were very exuberant, but there were many changes of direction and gait. I believe that he needs more consistent practice time.. (The newest Savvy Club DVD about Circling Game is certainly timely.)

We also took a minute to refine lining up at the mounting block at liberty. He was somewhat out of position, so I placed the stick over his neck with the string dangling on the off-side, and he immediately yielded his FH toward me to come closer!!

Guinness had a great time - motivated and relaxed. I will try to plan for more of this sort of session with him. :-)

PS - Click here for a free guide to getting started with clicker training. Works great in conjunction with Parelli Natural Horsemanship. It is very helpful for both LBI (motivation) and RBI (gets them thinking) horsenalities.


inchwormwv said...

I love your motivation and thinking things through. I have some clinic advice for you - don't forget to have fun :-D

Naturally Gaited said...

I'll try to remember! If it goes as it usually does, "after hours" will be the most fun time. :-) I'm really looking forward to getting away. I sure need a head break.