Friday, May 7, 2010

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

To "throw down the gauntlet" is to issue a challenge. A gauntlet-wearing knight would challenge a fellow knight or enemy to a duel by throwing one of his gauntlets on the ground. The opponent would pick up the gauntlet to accept the challenge.

This evening, as I was preparing to feed, Guinness actually reared up and got his hoof hung for a moment in his wall mounted feeder! This PROVES that his rearing is a dominance tactic. I was amazed that he had the chutzpah to try this, since for the past year or so our routine has been for him to back out of the run-in and wait for me to feed him!!

The cool thing was that I happened to have a carrot stick next to me and I managed to whack the rail just in front of him right as it was happening and drove him out of the run-in. Next I fed Smokey, and G. attempted to run him off of his feed, so I drove Guinness all the way out again.

I grabbed his chow and trotted out to the roundpen (in the field) with him following at liberty, then locked the gate. I dumped his feed into a rubber bowl in the center of the arena, and played "if you do what I want, then I'll let you eat a little bit of dinner." Surprisingly, I think that he actually enjoyed the challenge.

He offered to speed-back until his rump hit the rail (30'), then I allowed him to come in to have a bite, then backed him out again. When he stopped at about 6' away, I moved quickly through phases 2 & 3, then flicked his chest with the string and he zoomed back and waited with both ears pricked forward. After waiting a minute, I drove him in a trotting circle 1 lap around, then brought him in. We repeated this with different variations, until he completed dinner.

Toward the end, my husband released the other horses and I defended G. as he finished his dinner. He showed absolutely no concern as I tossed the string over his back as he ate.

I'm going to aim to do this at every meal for awhile. I'd bet in a week or so, he'll be offering to canter multiple laps in Circling Game.

Boss Mare controls the food. I accept your challenge little horse!


inchwormwv said...

Great Job Clare! I suggest you read about the dog training practice called NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free)for some ideas and reinforcement:

Naturally Gaited said...

Yup. Great concept. This is why I no longer dispense treats just for the sake of giving them! They have to do something for me first. (The started before Guinness joined our herd.) He likes to offer me behaviors such as "parking out" and "smiling" but I try not to reward unless I've cued for the behavior first.

However, I do offer scratches upon demand - something that no other herd member will do. Guinness values this, since I'm proving that I'm his "buddy" but since I don't want him to reciprocate, it is kinda one sided. I'm not sure what impact this has on my status.. ;-)

One great thing - I do see him offering continuous circling in the near future!!