Friday, March 30, 2012

Update on Snickers situation:


Today was drizzley, so we stuck to the indoor arena, where, unfortunately, I can't turn him loose. However, it was quite productive! I pulled out all the stops with treats for rewards, coming with a bucket of grain, peppermint AND apple biscuits, and 5 lbs of carrots! Since he seems to get bored with treats after a while, I figured I'd mix it up and surprise him by pulling out different treats throughout our lesson, but I didn't use the grain at all because I don't think he really likes it all that much.

Other than personality, I think a major reason for my colt being so bonded with me is because I never caught him intending to really WORK him because I can't ride him anyway. Istead, we began immediately working on clicker training and have used that since, and I now have a super-eager treat earner. So why not start over there with Snickers? We did clicker training to get him to touch my hand - offer my hand, wait for him to come touch it, click, and treat! He caught on very quickly (of course, it helps when you start off with a treat hidden in that hand lol). We broke it up into short, quick sessions to avoid him getting bored, with brushing in between. We went from holding onto the lead rope, to letting the lead rope drag, and then letting the lunge line drag (so I could walk farther away and let him come to me), and it went very well. Then we braved the outdoors (it was only lightly raining off and on) and did it with him turned loose in the round pen, continuing to make progress. 

Finally, I turned him loose in the arena to chill, then went and got my colt and turned him out with Snickers as well to just have some buddy time. After about a half hour, I went back in armed with the halter, clicker, and more treats. Of course, Flash (my colt) came right up to me looking for treats, but Snickers was still stand-off ish. I did try to approach him, but he moved away and so I immediately went back to Flash. Snickers walked around for a few minutes, never going more than 20-30 feet way and acting like he wasn't interested, but sure enough, he eventually came and stood looking right at me about 5 feet away. I approached him, let him touch my hand, clicked, treated, and then went right back to Flash. And guess who followed me a moment or two later! This time I clicked, treated, then went around to his neck and petted him, and walked away. Flash followed me, and Snickers came behind him. When I stopped, he came all the way up and touched my hand for a treat, for which I clicked and treated of course, then moved around to his neck, petted him, then slipped the rope around his neck and haltered him, treated him again, then took the halter off. We did this routine 2-3 more times all the way back to my stuff in the arena, except now Flash was the one lagging behind Snickers! It was great having Snickers follow me without any regard to the fact that he was leaving Flash behind :) he got some extra treats - especially his favorite carrots - and we called it a day  

I'm not sure if he really gets or cares about the clicker (though he does when he puts up a fight for bridling, since that's what I initially introduced the clicker to him for), but he's definitely interested in me and coming to me! As for enjoying the down time, I know someone mentioned he may be a horse that just likes to move. In his case, the reason I didn't feel like he enjoyed the down time is because he was so concernd about where his buddies were, constantly moving around to see them and whinnying. He's been calmer about everything it seems since our back-to-back round penning and roping incidents, but I think he's at least starting to relax when I'm brushing him as we start bonding more (though he starts whinnying ans stressing out as soon as I'm out of sight like he always has, but there's less whinnying and movement when I'm there now at least)

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