Friday, March 2, 2012

the toboggan that wasn't

It only took three days of attempts, a lot of treats, and even more patience, but I think Shyloh finally realizes that the toboggan is NOT a mountain lion ready to attack. 

Today I got to the barn ready to conquer the toboggan/mountain lion. I took  our driving training a step back and did not put Shy in her harness. Sometimes I just need to simplify things for Shy in order for her to really get it.
Shy starts toward the evil predator. . .
She stops to rethink her decision. . .
Shy decided to keep moving forward. . .
And touch!
Amazingly, much to Shy's astonishment, the toboggan did not morph into the feared mountain lion. I played the touch game and did a ton of clicking and treating. Before I knew it, Shy was touching all over the toboggan! She was walking on it, playing with it, stepping over it, and sniffing it from end to end. Success!
Touching the middle
Stepping on the mountain lion
Pawing the toboggan
Grabbing the padding, so scary at first (mountain lions babies could be underneath!)
Making sure there is just toboggan under the padding
Playing with the toboggan some more
Now that Shy had come to the conclusion that the toboggan was indeed just a toboggan, it was time to make it move. And when it moves in the arena sand, it makes a noise! That is scary and elicited this response:
Whoa. . .not so sure about the movement
The good thing is that she does not bolt when she is scared, she just starts and stands in place. If she is really scared, she will either slowly back away or turn around and walk away. To get Shyloh used to the sound of the toboggan moving and to get her not to move away or back up while it is moving closer to her, I did the only logical think that makes sense. . . at least when working with Shy.

Hear the terrifying sound? The next step is to get the toboggan behind her! These carrot pieces on the toboggan was the only way I was able to get her close to the moving sled and to make it not mountain lion scary. Before I thought of the carrots, every time I moved the toboggan near her, she moved off in the opposite direction. Success!

I know some people are really opposed to using food when working with their horse, but so far it has worked wonders for Shyloh. She is not pushy or in my space and as long as she remains respectful, I will continue to use food. I am also able to wean the food out pretty quickly once she gets something, so using food is not something that is constantly necessary to get her to do something that is asked of her.

I think a few more sessions like this and with the harness on and we will be ready to pull it!


  1. Camryn here:
    So who's gonna wear the harness? I think next time yu get you Mom to pull the sleigh again. Then you step on and have her give you a ride!!! BoooYa!

    1. At this rate, it appears that I will be wearing the harness! Haha!

  2. I love how you are breaking everything down, step by step, and you aren't rushing things at all.

    1. Not rushing is our thing. . .it can be a little frustrating, but we don't have any time limits.

  3. Well done, very well explained too! I don't think I could use food much when training Flurry, he is one of those who would mug someone for a piece of carrot!

  4. Go Shy!

    On the whole food thing: I don't have a problem with it. I wouldn't use it with some horses (the dominant mouthy kind in particular) but I think for some horses it works wonderfully. If it works for you guys then who cares? I'm glad she's making progress =)

  5. Awesome!!! You go Shy! What a smart brave girl.

    You know my feelings on food obviously lol. When used with clicker training and following the rules it actually teaches horses to be more polite around food instead of less so. :) Keep up the awesome work.


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