Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fence Repairs and Clicker Training

Last Sunday, the horses got out. Marri watched Flash go straight through the hot fence (which has not been hot) in his impatience at feeding time.  Poor Marri spent the next hour and a half catching them.  She called me, then caught Flash right afterward, but Snickers proved to be a pain.  He finally came when she calmly walked in a way that kept him from getting away (he was in a little alleyway between fences), and then he touched her hand with his nose.  After that, it was over.

Unfortunately I was coming down with a bad sinus-infection type thing that day.  Marri had to leave, but explained how to fix the fence.  I did so (it ended up being pretty easy), but just couldn't seem to get it hot, so the horses stayed in their pens the rest of the day until I came back out that evening.  Just before I got there, Marri was able to verify the fence was, indeed, hot.  As it turns out, I just wasn't testing it correctly!  I did feel pretty proud of my fence repairing skills :)

So then the horses got put back in and all was well.  However, this brought up the issue of Snickers not allowing people to catch him.  Since our episode last Spring with the lasso, I really haven't had too much trouble catching him (then again, he's also been in a smaller pen and only with Flash).  After some time off, I did have to work him and get him to come in once or twice, but that usually ended pretty quickly.  However, he's still quite stand-off ish.  Oftentimes, he'll walk away from me when I go toward him.  Kristen suggested (from her experience with her horse). to just continue walking toward him.  Funny enough, he stopped less than a minute later when I tried this!  I guess that not giving up or making a big deal out of it made him loose interest in moving away.  Unfortunately, this didn't seem to transfer to letting Marri catch him. Honestly, if we were ever at a ride, I don't know if I'd see that horse again because he would leave me in the dust and not let anyone catch him!  Though, I'm sure he'd stick around camp, but just avoid everyone.  Thus, I've decided I need to address this specifically.

The weather has been getting nicer - both warmer and sunnier and not as hazy with an inversion - so I've been able to work with him a few times.  I decided a "negative" approach probably wouldn't suit him, and that I needed to convince him that I was interesting and rewarding to work with.  In other words, he didn't necessarily need to be trying to avoid work by coming to me, but rather seek reward.  How about clicker training?  I thought it might be worth a shot.  The first day (Monday), I took him into the arena and turned him loose.  He started strutting around and prancing, not paying any attention to me at all.  However, when he finally looked at me, I stepped back.  He was thinking about coming, but I had to coax him a little the first time.  After that, he seemed to figure out what I wanted, and, over time, started coming to me and staying with me more and more. It was kind of funny, though, because he still wanted to prance around some with his tail in the air and snorting his nose.  Silly horse.

Yesterday, I didn't feel like going to the arena and just did the same thing quickly in the pasture.  Of course, Flash was constantly with us, so I managed to time my click for when Snickers came to me but Flash wasn't grabbing for treats.  It was great to keep Snickers' interest, and funny to see poor little Flash trying so hard to do the right thing!  I'm excited for this year with Flash - I'm going to really start training him :)  Anyway, after a bit we stopped.  However, not before Snickers started getting snarky with Flash for getting in on the goods - this was his face every time I moved and they were coming to me!  Snickers was making this face clearly at Flash, flipping his ears forward as soon as he got close to me (and Flash was still a safe distance away haha).  Oh, Snickers, there's enough of me to go around!

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