Thursday, August 23, 2012

semi at liberty

After working with Shyloh on the mat clicker training the other day, I just knew that there had to be a better way. While she did stand on the mat, I had to prod her, and tap her legs, and basically make her get up there. So I did some research. . .and I found this website. Aha! I just knew that there was an easier way for Shy to learn the mat!

When I got to the barn, I got Shy ready for our clicker training session. I even used a handful of grain - a prime treat - to reward her behaviors. I kept her lead line attached and called it semi at liberty because another horse was working in the arena and I wanted to have something to redirect Shy with if she lost interest or got distracted. 

Holy what a difference Batman! I clicked Shy for stepping closer and closer to my new mat, a piece of wood I found at the barn. Being the curious horse that she is, this was an easy task for her. Click and treat. Then when she put a hoof on, click and treat. Then went she put both on, click and treat treat treat! No whip, no pulling, nothing. It was all on Shy! She was doing it because she wanted to do it. Awesome!
My apologies for the video. . .heads cut off, sunlight gleaming in. . .I could have chosen a much better spot to practice! And all of Shy's smiles got cut off.

When she started pawing at the mat, I would walk her away and start over. It was so much fun to watch her work through what was wanted of her! Of course, she went through her repertoire of tricks, checking to see if each one was the desired behavior to get her the precious grain. It was amazing when she finally got it! I stopped our session and gave her a break.

Then a while later, I went back to it, giving Shy even more freedom. I sat at the mounting block and clicked when she chose to step on the board all on her own! Yay pony!! But then Beth got the hay cart out and Shy was highly distracted and kept trying to walk out of the arena. So I had her stand on the mat, clicked and treated, then put her in her stall. I am so excited about this new work we are doing! And so glad that Shy is figuring it all out. 

In off-ness news, I think the news is good. I put Shy in the round pen with just her halter on and had Beth watch her. Shy walked/trotted/cantered/bucked! Ha! Beth did not believe that she ever bucked! At a slow trot, Shy was slightly off, but Beth also noticed that she seemed to twist herself a little to compensate for something. And with her canter to the right, she would often switch up her back leads. But when Shy had a nice forward trot both ways, she was fine. Then Beth had me tack her up with the surcingle and side reins. Immediately, she was off. But not off off, if that makes sense, more like a guarded off. We are back to our initial thinking that she is protecting any would-be pain by stepping short because she is using muscles she is not used to using. When she is without tack, she is able to compensate by using other muscles. 

So, the new plan is to round pen forward trots and walks with the side reins and not use transitions. Let Shy know and feel that forward movement is not painful and work the muscles that she needs to do those movements, while still keeping a close eye on her for and more short tracking up. If she does well with that, then slowly move on to transition work. 

I feel good with this plan, as Shy has no heat or swelling in any legs, hooves,  hips, or back. The chiropractor comes out Monday and I will double check the plan with him and get his opinion on her status. Whew!


  1. I really want to start doing some clicker training, I bought a clicker but I have lost it now! It looks really fun, I must have a look for it!

    1. I encourage you to do it! It is fun and I really enjoy watching Shy work out for herself what behavior is wanted.

  2. Love the video and what fun! I hope Shy will be fine after the Monday visit:) Or, that the PLAN works out:)

    1. Thanks! I am glad I have a great barn owner, a vet who is always available, and a good chiro!

  3. Just found your blog. Very cool that you are doing clicker training with your horse, it's so awesome. :)

    On a bad internet connection right now, so can't watch the video, but I'll try and come back and watch it later.
    From your report, though, sounds like you two did great.

    And I'm glad you found Katie's website (equine clicker training). So much good info there!


  4. Good job!!! What you're doing now is called free shaping behaviors and you're teaching her to seek behaviors on her own. That's so awesome! :D

    I hope the workout plan helps.


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